Answering their children’s questions about sex is a responsibility that many parents loathe. Otherwise confident parents often feel tongue-tied and awkward when it comes to talking about puberty and where babies come from. But the subject should not be avoided. Parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex if they answer children’s questions in an age-appropriate way.
Is it okay to use nicknames for private parts? By the time a child is three years old, parents may choose to use the correct words. “They may sound medical, but there is no reason why the proper label shouldn’t be used when the child is capable of saying it. These words — penis, vagina — should be stated matter-of-factly, with no implied silliness,” says Anne Karemera, a retired psychologist. That way, the child learns to use them in a direct manner, without embarrassment.
Wilbroad Birungi, police detective Kira Road police Station, says he always discourages his children from sexual acts and utilises any chance to tell them about sex.
“ I find it hard to just bump onto my child and start telling them about sex, so I wait for opportunities such as when we are watching TV or when they ask me about anything concerning sex,” Birungi says, adding that, “ I use that chance to tell them everything. But I think some teachers spoil our children, a primary two child comes home telling you about condoms why should such a child be taught about condoms.”
She is not yet a parent but her work involves child matters and aising parents. Mercy Munduru, aocacy officer at FIDA, believes every parent should freely talk to their children about sex and first make the children your friends so that a child can feel free to tell you all their problems in case they are harassed. “Tell children that no one should ever undress them unless it is you the mother or anyone you trust. Tell them the dangers if at all anyone undresses them and if anyone does it to them, tell them to report immediately to you or teacher.” She aises parents to try and ask the children if they know about sex and teach them basing on the knowledge they have before someone misleads them. “Tell them who to talk to in case they have any challenge about sex and make yourself approachable,” Munduru explains.
While others try to befriend their children and talk, for Vincent Ngondwe, deputy head teacher at Lohana Academy, it is not the case. He is not free with his daughters. “I leave sex education to their mother. I teach the boys to treat all girls as their sisters and protect them. This has really worked because my boys defend all girls.” It does not stop at that but he tells them about consequences of engaging in sex with girls such as acquired diseases and pregnancies.
Sex education should not be limited to the females because they are not the only ones affected by lack of this knowledge.
“At times we don’t mind about boys and only focus on the girls but boys are harassed as well by maids and other people,” says Apio Deborah, teacher, Haggai Nursery school. As a teacher, she deals with children and gets their views. “Some children say they see their parents doing mummydaddy things. So, some parents should not think all children are young not to understand everything.
Jane Kakyo, mother of four, says parents tend to be shy to tell their children about sex. “Don’t feel shy to tell your children about sex but freely kiss in front of the children. When my children were still young, I called a spade a spade and never kept anything from them. I told them what would happen if they had sex,” says Kakyo. “In their puberty, I got tough and that is why they all call me sweet mother.”
Faith Chege, Counselling psychologist and teacher Lohana Academy.
I have written a book Growing up. I am a mother who openly tells my children every thing about sex because even if I don’t tell them someone else will do it and may end up misleading them.
These days, puberty starts as early as nine years. We cannot wait for a child to be a teenager.
I make my children comfortable with their bodies especially girls by telling them how their body is like as early as eight years old. I also try as much as possible to create friendship with my children so that they can tell me whatever problem they have.
I engage my girl in sex talk all the time, says Zubeddah Kunihira, a business woman. Kunihira reminds her of bad touches and warns her daughter against associating with boys in a bad way. She has done her best to befriend the child and this makes her free. “Whenever we are watching TV and there are scenes of people kissing, I do not switch off TV but I explain to her everything.”