Almost every household uses a code name for body parts which are covered. Body parts and sex education are not seen together. Once we break our own barriers around sex education we can enrich child with this important knowledge.
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 the baby in your tummy? Why do people kiss? What are sanitary pads?” And so on.
Let us look at sex education beyond this.
When a child is born, the child is exposed to different vocabulary – mummy, papa, milk, biscuit, water, and whatever is required. When it comes to the body we give vocabulary of hands, fingers, mouth, ears but this is not complete. We leave out organs like vagina, penis, anus, and breast, we replace these with “that”, “peepee”, “susu” and so on. The child grows up with the same vocabulary in mind and when it’s time to know about how papa put the baby in mummy’s tummy, we all are at a loss “does that mean put sperm in that and that and becomes baby?”
Let’s explore various aspects of sex education
Body parts (specially which are covered) vocabulary
So, let us begin with vocabulary building. Now the question arises “society does not approve of this vocabulary, it will be embarrassing if my child uses words such as “penis” or “vagina” in public. So till 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 cultures (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”.
Function of these covered body parts
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 the 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 is dirty, what comes out of that contains bacteria, so playing with potty or urine is unhygienic.
Public and Private actions with body parts
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 an understanding about “private and public actions”. Putting your hands in your pant or digging your nose are not public actions and are done inappropriate places like the toilet or your room.
Now that you have crossed the barrier of your own apprehensions, you are ready to share many more secrets of “sex education beyond physical act”.
It’s time to talk about. Depending on your child’s age and level of understanding you can pick any of the following questions or create your own questions.
- what are wet dreams?
- What does puberty mean – how feelings and physical changes are associated with the change of hormones?
- What is kissing – may be a 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 a 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, listen to what the child thinks? Share your experiences, your limitations, and your family views. If possible keep threats, bribes, and impositions 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