Talking about sex has long been regarded as a sort of “taboo” in India. Children are thus left with no alternative but to learn about it, more often than not, in an unhealthy way. As the celebrated authority Kinsley puts it: “When parents sit on the information that they should pass on to the child, the poor child starts wondering what is so secretive about it. His curiosity and interest are further increased. He begins either to think there is something shameful about his own body or he goes out to find the answers from friends…. The eventual result in either case is usually bad.”
That is why sex education is very essential. You must educate him about the biological facts tactfully.
To begin with the child should be able to see that his parents share “love” and care for each other’s happiness. There is no virtue in hiding physical caressing and your bodies from the child. I am not suggesting that you should exhibit with pride you “love-making” or your stark naked bodies before the child. The point I wish to make is a little different. If the child moves in while you are kissing or caressing or dressing, or undressing, or bathing, it will be unwise to shout at him. If you do that, the child will get the impression that something bad is being hidden from him. This may be the beginning of varied sexual problems that may make his life miserable when he grows up as an adult.
As teaching parents you are expected to have full understanding of these facts. Your relaxed attitude toward sex will enable you to answer your child’s countless questions.
At about two to four years of age he may like to know why he is so different from his sister. Why does he have “something” that she does not and vice versa? Do not beat about the bush. Give him frank answers.
Where did he come from? Many parents and grandparents find it awfully difficult to talk about the process of reproduction. They try to put off the child by answering that “you were found in the store”, “God sent you in a sack” or “we brought you from the temple”. That is a sheer wrong way of dealing with his sensible question. Be frank and tell the child that he grew in mummy’s tummy for nine months. There is nothing wrong in telling him something about how it all started in the tummy and that it was the result of strong love between the parents. You may tell the child that, when he grows up into an adult, he will get married to a cute girl. The two of them will be able to have a child or two the “same way as we had”. While telling the child all this, be relaxed. Tenseness and sentimentalism will merely spoil all your talking, leaving little positive impact on the child.
Remember not to be panicky if you find the child fiddling and playing with his genitalia. That is perfectly normal. Resentment will only aggravate the things, setting a vicious circle which you will find very tough to break. Allow him to grow out of it on his own.
As the child approaches puberty, tell him he may have seminal discharge some night and that it is a normal biological phenomenon which need not worry him. The girls should likewise be told that a vaginal blood discharge is round the corner and that it will continue as a monthly feature for many years to come.
Your objective is to teach the child the facts he wants to know and the facts he needs to know so that he emerges from adolescence believing that sex and love go hand in hand. This, as Kinsley says, will equip them better to meet the stresses and strains of life when they are adults. Finally, now that HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B are emerging as a big challenge, it has become all the more important to educate the teenagers about responsible sex with special emphasis on use of condoms in case of unavoidable circumstances.
Safeguarding from sexual abuse and exploitation
Such is the hike in sexual abuse of young children and adolescents (yes, both girls and boys) by not only the dubious characters but also the close relatives (uncles, cousins), in recent years, that you need to be very vigilant. Never ever leave the child alone with some person in your absence.
Safeguarding from infectious diseases
Special vaccines needed at adolescence are –
1 Rubella: It is particularly needed for young girls. It enhances protection against rubella, a disease known to cause damage in the form of congenital defects in the growing baby when it occurs during early part of pregnancy.
2. Chickenpox vaccine: Chickenpox during adolescence is likely to be quite serious. It is advisable to give this vaccine to the adolescent in case he has not suffered from natural infection earlier
- Tetanus toxoid: Booster dose
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis A vaccines if not already given.