Raising Children with a Healthy Understanding of Sexuality
We all got perfectly used to the fact that today, in our hypersexualized society, the “intimations” from being intimate became open to the public. The sex messages are readily found on corner billboards and in sitting area magazines, to say nothing about the TV, movies, and the Internet. Nowadays, the kids are simply assailed with the sexuality in the media. And, as in the modern world the role of the media in a child’s life is overstated, there are certainly a lot of misrepresentations and wrong assumptions about sex that have to be corrected. And the way to correct them is to give a healthy sexual education to the modern children.
With all these said, personally I consider that it is a must for sex education to start at home. Children are surrounded by too much confusion and this confusion should be cleared out as soon as possible, before the mistakes are made. I think, and my opinion is supported by the modern researches, that the parents should take up onto themselves to explain and clarify for their children what the sex and sexuality are all about. On the other hand, talking to the children about sex is certainly not an easy job. It is very uncomfortable and most parents cannot find a way to start this conversation, to say nothing, find what to say. But this cannot be a good enough reason for them to put this duty off (American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children and adolescents need input and guidance from parents to help them make healthy and appropriate decisions regarding their sexual behavior since they can be confused and overstimulated by what they see and hear”. Moreover the information that they see or hear may be wrong and even harmful. Some parents may wrongly consider that to feed and dress is the child is the most important and vital tasks expected from them. However, this is not quite true. Talking to the children about love, intimacy, and sexuality is also an essential part of parenting.
As, the “sex topic” is considered to be not a very pleasant one a lot of parents tend to put off this conversation, comforting themselves by saying that the “big talk” will be raised in the nearest future. Conversely, raising sexually healthy and adequate children is not about giving a single “big talk” when they reach a certain age. It is a core duty of parents to raise the question of sexuality all through the life of a child, providing him/her with different and more detailed information as he/she gets older and develops physically and emotionally. Actually, the job of the parents as sexual educators begins when the child is very young (Haffner). As surprising as it is, by touching the baby, by playing with it, talking to it, even the way you decorate its room and dress it you teach it about intimacy that is the first step to learn about sexuality (Haffner).
The right time to talk to children about sex is during their young ages. At the age of three or four the children are at their most curious stages. They learn more about the body and it is very important to introduce the sexuality to the child by explaining him/her the right names of the body parts, as well as the differences between boys and girls. A great advantage of this age is that the children are usually very vocal about things they are unfamiliar with and do not hesitate to ask questions. A very important thing at this stage is to create an open environment in the family and show the child that his questions are welcomed and the parents are ready to answer them in full (Pike). What should be remembered is that talking to children about sex at such an early age can actually diminish the discomfort and ache that comes with teaching the subject later on.
When the child reaches the age between five and eight she/he becomes able to understand more complex issues about health, relationships, disease, and sexuality. At this point the children are ready to learn more about the life around them. They become interested in such issues as the birth, families, relationship and death. Today by the age of eight an average child has probably already heard of the sexually transmitted diseases at least such as AIDS from TV or school. As a result, the child may have questions or fears about sex and sexuality in general (Stark). According to Patty Stark, at this point it is very important that parents give their children some concrete examples from their own life. For example, a mother can describe her personal experience of being a mother. She can explain her child they way she got pregnant and gave birth, as well as why men cannot become pregnant, etc (Stark).
It is vitally important that the questions of sexuality and sex are raised before the puberty age. Because even though the puberty process may seem rather easy, for a child it is complicated and crucial indeed. So the parents should prepare their child for this stage of his/her life and not let him/her simply go with a flow (Koblinsky). If the children are aware of the changes that are about to happen they will be ready to meet them once they actually happen. Yet, if the child is uninformed of the upcoming changes he/she may be shocked when they come, lose self-confidence and become introverted and shy.
What should be remembered is that both parents should participate in teaching their child about sexuality. Yet, what can be observed that in many families the mother is the one taking up the task to talk to her kids about sexuality. In some homes the mother talks to the daughters, while the father talks to his sons. This approach may seem to be a common sense, however, it is a must for children to hear the opinions of both genders. Such an approach teaches the children that men and women can talk about sexuality together. Learning this skill is vital for the child’s future when he/she will be building the relationships of his/her own (Koblinsky).
Some people believe that talking to children about sex encourages early sexual activity. Nevertheless, a good sex education is vital for young people to make knowledgeable choices when the time comes. It is obvious that children need to know about sex - both anatomically and emotionally - and that they need accurate information once they are developed enough to understand it. Some people also believe that when talking about sex one should focus on the harmful consequences of the sexual activity. This is especially true when talking to teenagers. Nevertheless, the parents should remember that a child, without a shadow of doubt, deserves to know that his sexuality is not at all evil. Moreover, showing sexual feelings in a responsible and conversant manner can be a critical and satisfying part of an adult relationship (Basso).
Today parents are not alone anymore in dealing with the questions of sexuality because these days sexual education became a part of curricula of many schools. Nonetheless, it is still the parents’ responsibility and duty to start the sexual education at home and not wait till the child will be offered such a course at school (SIECUS). Yes, giving a child a healthy sexual education is not easy. Furthermore, it takes some courage, some effort, and some work. But the truth is, that giving children honest, and straightforward sexual information will enrich their minds and develop their souls. As well as it will boost children’s confidence and self-esteem. It is clear that the effort is worth the candle.