Growing up in Zimbabwe, sex was a taboo and not talked about. The expectation was that one should stay pure and be a virgin till married. Talking to a few moms, highlights that abstinence was never the case. Yes, most women got married to the men that they were sexually active with but they were engaging in the act way before marriage. It was felt that if someone had talked openly about sex, possibly things could have been done differently. The fact that it was done behind parents’ back, made it a sinful act and that transcended into marriage thereby making marital sex complex in some instances.
This then poses the question’ how best can we prepare our own children to have good sexual health?’
According to the World Health Organisation, sexual health is defined as:
“…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” (WHO, 2006a)
“Sexual health encompasses more than the act of having sex”
The implications of poor sexual health are recognised as early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections as well as sexual abuse. What makes sexual health even more complex is ease of accessibility. The online world poses ,many challenges for parents and pornography is rampant (NSPCC).
With that definition we realised that the topic is very broad and needed to be streamlined. We then focussed on how do you talk to your child/ren about sexual health?
We agreed that there is the need to be honest, transparent, graceful and open-minded. We acknowledged that our upbringing, values and beliefs can be a challenge in embracing our children’s experiences especially where sex before marriage is concerned.
One of the strategies used in talking about this complex topic is using current affairs. If there is a program on television, use it as a conversation tool to explore the child’s understanding of sexual health. It is our responsibility as parents to talk to our children about this matter.
As parents we should aspire for our children to remain pure until they get married. A good question was asked about’ what do I do if my children admits to being sexually active, how do I handle such a matter when s/he is living in my house and not married.
What would Jesus do?
That was the question of the evening for us all to consider as parents/ mothers of faith. Dealing with this disclosure requires being composed and not being shocked as well as offering reassurance. We agreed that extending love, compassion is key to keeping the line of communication open. Acknowledging that there is a good and trusting relationship is a bonus and credit to the mother-child relationship. Whilst we may worry about STI’s, pregnancy, sexual abuse, using that window of trust can be a good opportunity to empower the young person with this risky behaviour. If a mother feels that they can’t breach the topic with the child, it was suggested that finding another person that the young person can talk to is important.
Our children want o hear our own personal experiences. Schools and other institutions may well be teaching our children different things to our value system We admitted that whilst it may be uncomfortable, we should be willing to be honest and vulnerable with our children without jeopardising our relationship and position as parent. Talking to our children about soul ties, early pregnancies, STI’s and the joy of waiting for the right person is key.
A lot of the challenges with face as parents are to do with fear of being judged and shame. We encouraged one another, that our children belong to us and not for the society or community. Prayer remains a foundation and strategy of choice in raising our children. We continue to pray for them and ourselves as we partner with the Lord in bringing them up.
We remain hopeful x