Sex education has become synonymous with “reproduction science”. Most of the time parents seek “sex education” when a child asks “where does the baby come from? How did papa put baby in your tummy? Why people kiss? What are sanitary pads?” And so on.
Let us look at the sex education beyond this.
When a child is born, child is exposed to different vocabulary – mummy, papa, milk, biscuit, water and whatever is required. When it comes to body we give vocabulary of hands, fingers, mouth, ear but this is not complete. We leave out organs like vagina, penis, anus and breast, we replace these with “that”, “peepee” and so on. Child grows up with the same vocabulary in mind and when its time to know about how papa put baby in mummy’s tummy, we all are at a loss “does that put sperm in that and that and becomes baby?”
So, let us begin with vocabulary. Now the question arises “society does not approve this vocabulary, it will be embarrassing if my child uses words such as “penis” or “vagina” in public. So till the society becomes open enough to accept this vocabulary let us keep it secret like we keep many home secrets (do not tell Grandpa that I smoke) or share the secret of different culture (mummy wears jeans only in Bangalore not in Indore, home town). We could inform the child “many homes do not approve such vocabulary, so use it when you need to explain or know something, rest of the time do not use”.
Now, that your child knows vocabulary, let us talk about the functions of various body parts, Nose helps in breathing clean air while Vagina helps in extracting waste from body in the form of urine or Anus in the form of stool (potty). Per se, the body parts are not dirty neither their function are dirty, what comes out of that contains bacteria, so playing with potty or urine is unhygienic.
Now let us look at the reaction to the actions for body education, which is part of sex education. When a child puts his/her hands inside their underwear, common reactions are “cheee........dirty.........remove the hand now!!................embarrassing..........some problem.............sexually aroused child” and so on. Let us replace the reactions with understanding. Let us create understanding about “private and public actions”. Putting hands in your panty or digging your nose are not public actions and are done in appropriate places like toilet or your room.
Now that you have crossed the barrier of your own apprehensions, you are ready to share many more secrets of “sexeducation beyond physical act”.
Its time to talk about
what are wet dreams?
what does puberty mean – how feelings and physical changes are associated with change of hormones?
what is kissing - may be different variety of kisses – mummy kiss, friend kiss, love kiss and so?
What are monthly periods (consider sharing with ALL genders) – how it is beyond stomach pain and sanitary pads. Emotions, mood swings, nutrition, rest, meditation, body changes (internal and external both), acceptance, change in perspective and outlooks and so on?
what are drugs and their implications. What does being “cool” mean? Why smoking or why not? And so on
What is rape? What is physical abuse? What is good touch, bad touch and sexual touch?
What is homosexuality and what is the science behind this?
What are genes and genetics?
Share how pregnancy is beyond just a physical act – the baby, the responsibility of new life, the efforts in raising a child and so on.
And while you talk about all this
Share your views
Listen to child's view
Statutory warning - Keep away from your definition of wrong and right – listen to what child thinks?
Share your experiences, your limitations and your family views. If possible keep threats, bribe and imposition away from this conversation.
Enjoy the topic, look for opportunities for more exposure, more discussion and more understanding. Use the current events, movies and your own experience to learn from.
Now, that the topic of “sex” is beyond “physical act” in your home, relish the openness of it and enjoy the relationship with your child.
By Aditi Ratnesh Mathur