Our children and their sexual health

Our children and their sexual health

IMG_7575Webinar 3.10.18

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

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03.04.18

I pray for your purpose as a mother. That you will embrace it and find fulfilment. I pray that you find mentors, friends who come along your journey and bring a deeper meaning to all that you do.

1 Timothy 4:15-16 Living Bible (TLB)

15 Put these abilities to work; throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone may notice your improvement and progress. 16 Keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others.do.

30days praying for my mommy friends ♥️🙏🏽

Black Panther

Black Panther

I loved Wakanda. For me, the central message was the power and authority that mama’s have.

“Tell him who you are!” ♥️

These are the words of Ramonda, Queen mother of Wakanda to her son Tchalla, during a battle to defend his throne.

In moments of fear, uncertainty and frustration, as a mother what do you tell your children? Is your voice that of assurance and definition?.

Moments of fear, frustration are ‘perfect’ moments to look your child square in the eye and remind them of who they are! The world may see so many things in our children but no one knows them like mama does. The world can tell our children so many things too. However, we can speak into the greatness that is right inside of them and defend their destiny.

I believe as mothers especially mothers of faith, we are our own children’s prophets. What are you speaking into your children’s lives? My favourite affirmations are: ‘all my children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace’, ‘You are for signs and wonders’.

Time and again I remind my children of their strengths and address their frustrations and anxieties with a calming voice of prayer, hug, note or even a letter. I like to pray for them in my quiet devotional time. I also enjoy praying with them, lifting them up before the father of all flesh. It’s powerful and they appreciate it.

 

One other thing am finding helpful with parenting teens season are notes or even letters. I like to express myself on paper, letting my children know that I notice the worries on their faces some days, the pressure and stress of friendships as well as exams. I journal some prayers too.

 

The greatest armour I am using more these days is intentional hug. Yes, hug. I guess it’s difficult for anyone to say no to a hug. While I am hugging either my 17year son or 13year old daughter, depending on the mood and context, I speak quietly or loudly into their spirit. I believe we all want to reminded of who we are. We all want to be encouraged time again. The power of touch, disarming and healing.

I remind them of their destiny and call of God upon their lives. You are a mighty man of valour, a Gedion of your generation. You are a mighty woman of God, called to your generation. A women of impact and authority, your light will never dim. I like to call forth those destinies in prayer.

What are your thoughts, would love to her from you?

#voiceofhope

#wakandawednesday

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

This has come sooner that I had anticipated. Mixed emotions I do say! Part of me would love to have you remain my baby forever and the other gets really excited about the woman you are becoming.

You are a beautiful flower to watch, blossoming in your thinking and understanding of your world and those around you. You challenge us as parents to be more and better. You encourage us to be better citizens and deepen our love in the things that set us on fire.

You are amazing Bubu. I am not only saying so because I am your mom, those who take time to know you, will attest to that.

I pray that you never lose your passion, strength and conviction for the things you love and believe in. That element of your personality, is a gift from God to you and the world, share it as often as you can.

As you continue to tower over us, I want you to know that there is no limit to what you set your mind to accomplish.

Enjoy being a teenager, it’s a unique era. I will try not to be anxious, not sure I have any anxiety left. Laugh more, it will keep your heart lighter and the sparkle in your eyes brighter. Take lots and lots of photos; selfies, food, travels, friends, and all, you will treasure them all.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you will learn from them. Remember you can never drink too much water.

Above all, always know that He has you inscribed in the palms of His hands.

Happy birthday sweetie.

Enjoy the cake.

Love you always and forever

Mom x 🎉🎉🎂💕

Loving your children

Loving your children

A dear cousin sent me this amazing youtube clip and I had to share. Initially, I was going to copy and paste on social media, praying that it blesses someone like it did to me.

There, in that process of doing that ,I begun to reflect in action. The message touched me, as a mom who struggles many a times to get it right with my children.

The teaching of David Wilkerson sounded sincere, as a grandad wanting to impart some wisdom to the younger generation. Indeed, he did just that for me, hopefully for you too. I have sat many a times with colleagues and friends pouring our hearts out about the state of our society and children, the challenges we face and constraints that are seemingly in place to fail our children.

If anything, like any mom, I want them to do well. The responsibility and requirements to parent seem colossal compared to when I was growing up. This clip doesn’t address that, however it explains on what I can do as mom, in this challenging environment. I now have to learn what I didn’t see or experience growing up and that has been and remains my biggest challenge.

David Wilkerson shares is an undiluted truth on the responsibility of parents for our children and what’s happening in our society. We can do something and more with all the challenges we face. His message is, who is watching what’s coming into your home? What are we allowing our children to bring into our homes? We have the authority, responsibility and accountability of what comes in.

I have been there and still do, where I have felt it’s me against the world, my children’s friends, media, different cultures, values, school etc. It is incredibly exhaustingly on all levels, I get it and know it too well. The world and its powers would want us to do just that, give in and give up. Our children are too precious to do that.

Parents in diaspora, we now know how time poor we are and the scarcity of social networks to support us in our journey. For us, first generation migrants, parenting abroad is a new phenomenon with all its complexities. Those we relate to better, the ones we jumped ship with and swapped our identities for a better life, seem new and bewildered with the challenges we face. Where do we go from here?

We work very hard and all hours at trying to make ends meet, ofcourse we have to pay the bills. Maybe, once the bills are paid and we have sent a little for the folks back home, maybe, we can just sit at home and listen to our children. Maybe, we can forgo a huge Christmas celebration and all the designer prezzies and just enjoy each other’s company while we watch the door. Maybe we can pay more attention to who our children are watching and listening to.<br

f our children’s friends no longer come to knock on the door asking for our children to come out and play. How easy it was then, to approve or disapprove! It is no longer so, for those of us with teenagers and older children. Their friends are online, keeping them wide awake at night right in the four corners of our homes.<br

spoken to friends who have managed to nail art of contouring their faces in a bid to enhance what God has given them. Their verdict is, it takes time but practice makes perfect. Getting it right with and for our children, I believe takes time and it’s worth it. When all is said and done, they grow quickly too.<br

se that believe in the power of prayer, Gods says I have a heart for a praying parent. Your prayers are not in vain. We can have righteous anger for the lives and future of our children. Pray with conviction and without ceasing for the matters affecting them.<br

also come to this understanding: may have less control of what happens out there but I have accountability of what comes through the doors of our home and that includes via inthranet.<br

e a responsibility to model the life I expect of my children. have to be at home to guard my house, no one else will. With that, I have to<br<br
y children, be alert and not sleep on the job. ace guards take their responsibilities seriously. They know the value of what they are guarding. This dude here 👇🏾 didn’t move or smile at all despite all our antics. It’s because he was on duty and guarding what has been entrusted to him. So are we as parents.
‭‭ ‭144:12‬ ‭GNB‬‬
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🙏🏽❤

Summer-saults

Summer-saults

The saga continues

So far summer has been bliss. The planning has taken the pressure of me in amazing ways. Prayer and lots of it has gone into this planning. The idea is to have an enjoyable and memorable summer. For us as parents, the reality of our children growing too fast and time sipping through our fingers has become such poignant truth.

We are keen to make the memories of today meaningful both now and for generations to come. That takes time and being intentional. Intentional of our family time, activities we do or don't do together and how we spend time with other people. Being away from each is great, as the distance makes the heart grow fonder.

An incident that happened during the half term taught me to be more organise when it comes to the children's time and their friends.

What exactly happened was that I was sitting on the train, on my way to work when at exactly 8am, a text message came inviting my daughter for a shopping trip with a friend the following day. Of course, it was school half term and I had forgotten to fill this one day of the half term week with activities and appointments. The predicament was that I had said no to a couple of invitations before, to this particular dear friend. It was a matter of timing and other family commitments.
 

I was well spent financially, and I would have needed to organise the pick up, drop off etc. Not what I expected on that day. My daughter thinks the world of this particular dear friend. Yes, they have recently started high school together and they 'clicked'.

I had filled the 5 out of 7days in a week with things to do. We had friends over for bank holiday Monday. Both adults and children, enjoyed the company, conversations and cuisine. We then visited another dear friend, 50miles each way and had a truly magical time on that Tuesday. Forget the food bill befitting the 21st century 2 teen instagram postings. Come Wednesday, both children had play dates and a sleepover whilst I ran around chauffeuring them. I also busied myself with lastminute preparations for the new job the following day some miles away from home. Hubby was off  the next day and took our cherubs for bowling and eat out. Girl done good, I told myself.

Until that morning and this text message, I had been absorbed in my own little world. I had done what most mothers do for their children. Since primary school days, I know how critical play dates are. My thinking was that at her  age my daughter can now sort her play dates. Since this was never mentioned at the agreed 'three days before' I assumed we were all fair and square.

At this stage, I decided not to feel bad about it. I was on my second day in a new job, away from home. I was trying my best to make sense of my new world. My plate was full. In actual fact,  in my mind I had planned for a mother- daughter time at my mother church on the morrow. Great opportunity to see my wonderful mother Bishop/ mentor/ teacher and inteccessor and of course my delightful cousin sister and her two beautiful girls. My daughter does not think attending church events is really spending quality time with me. I totally get it.

Personally, I feel it's a good opportunity to catch up with each other as well as other fellow like minded and inspiring sisters. A woman needs to be surrounded by like minded women, to inspire and challenge, so I tell her. We have managed to make the arrangement work with a lot of persuasion and bargaining. We alternate the dates, She comes with me to my events and next time we do something that she loves, usually fancy eat outs.

Anyway, back to the text message. At 5:35 pm, I was back on the train on my way home. It dawned on me that I had not responded to the message. I had made this poor woman and her daughter wait 😟. Thats a no no. It does not help with the repertoire malarkey. Why does a mother have to go through all this?! You can imagine my emotional turmoil. At this stage I emotionally spent, having spent a solid 8hours trying to prove why I got the job and my worthiness. And now this. How do I say no to this invite and this late? I hate explaining myself in text messages for that matter. Is it not enough that I am trying to be a positive role model to my children,  organised,  working hard, making a difference and being balanced? I hate coming short. 

I felt terrible for ruining my daughter's social life. How was she going to cope with no friends at school? What about missing out on all those instagram/ snapchat stories about the shopping weekend that she wasn't part of? Could this be emotional abuse or neglect? Who knows. At this point, life sucks. Don't mention how I was going to break it down to her when I got home! It's an emotional roller coaster.

Somehow, there is a part in me that feels our daughter is fragile and vulnerable as a young woman. It's not a question of gender but the flaws in her personality. She thinks well of everyone, very trusting at the same time incredibly opiniated. Furthermore, some of big brother's experiences have left us slightly wary of these social outings. We allow him because he is 17years old and soon to go and find his space in the adult world in no time. The boy needs to practice being responsible and accountable so we tell ourselves.

I remember vividly another culture shock incident that happened when our daughter was in primary school aged 5years. I had agreed to a play date only to cancel it on the day a few hours before because of other family commitments.  In my own head, I didn't think it was a problem. However,  this wasn't the case with her friend who went on to have a full melt down. The whole thing was a mess to say the least. You can imagine how unhappy the mother was. Luckily, I explained my oversight and she was willing to fill me in on my cultural gap. Never again, have I done that!

This culture around play dates can be very complex and intimidating. It is critical that I send the right message to my children without disrespecting their friends as well as the friends' parents. My children are also learning about managing social dynamics. O what a cobweb we weave!

As mothers, we have to be kind to ourselves. There is no such thing called perfect parenting but good parenting.  I have learnt that saying no is a good thing for them as well. So in the end it was finalised that there was not going to be a shopping trip. 

I owe her friend a date, thankfully that's all sorted. Here is to us off to write our own story in the sand.

 

Lessons I have personally learnt:

– Your children need friends, it's a basic human need. It's important to know who they befriend. Birds of the same feather flock together and that is so true. As they grow older it's good to guide them to make that fundamental decision themselves. 

High school play dates and dynamics can be a tsunami. We are trying to work it all out and it's a journey we have to go through with our youngest. What makes it all complex is the little connection we have with their friends and their families. When they were in primary school, we knew the parents from the playground and we arranged the play dates as mothers.

Now we are having to rely on what our children tell us about their friends. Yes, some of them you meet them with their parents at the parents evening etc. There is not enough time nor conducive atmosphere to sass each other out and work through the layers, masks and airs that we carry as parents on such occasions.

The lack of time, to be involved in school activities, PTA, bingo and quiz nights doesn't help. How do we create that time as first generation migrant families? How do we prioritise our children without neglecting our parents and even ourselves?

– Living in a diverse and multi-cultural society, it can present a lot of challenges. As a mom, follow your gut instinct. A good friend and their family will respect your family values and beliefs.

-Be organised and proactive about dates, sleepovers etc. For me the idea of our daughter being invited all the time is what I struggle with. My idea of summer break/ school holiday/ half term is for us as a family to catch up. Up until now, I assumed that was absolutely fine. So I'm taking the initiative to invite.

– It also transpires that play dates are mostly for childcare purposes. Sad as it may sound, it's the truth.

-Activities do not have to cost an arm and a leg. Best things in life are still free ; libraries, museums, picnics, church activities and a walk in the woods. National Trust membership is a great bargain for history and culture activities.

– Holiday breaks are not a luxury but a necessity. With good planning,they shouldn't cost a fortune. 

Comminicate, communicate and comunicate. 

-Be compassionate; Understand and emphathise with your children. It's hard trying to fit in. Teenagers especially, due to their brain development struggle with identity, worse off if there is culture clash. Be in their world, invite their friends over and get to know them.

– Encourage them to take up sports, arts or other extra curriculum activities. This is an investment that pays for itself.

– Choose your battles carefully. The adage ' better to win the war than battle' cannot be emphasised.

Happy holidays x

Hope makes a way ❤

Summer-saults.

Summer-saults.

Musings of a transnational mama:

Two weeks of summer holidays already gone, time flies indeed. Summer holidays are fun.

For many parents it’s a lovely break from the school run and early mornings. They can be a blessing summer holidays. A time to reflect and renew together as a family. A time to mellow on the memories of yesteryear. For some families summer is the transitioning from either early years to primary or even primary to high school. What an emotional roller coaster! We have been there and done that a few times. 
Thankfully, we are on hold for now. Next year will be a totally different story. Big brother will be completely done with school, did I say that? Yes, and heaven knows how I am going to cope.

Until then, I am focussing on now, the present. At the beginning of summer our two completed the comprehensive list of things to do for summer. This includes play dates with whom, when and where.

I have since learnt that school holidays, teenagers and their friends can be a conundrum. Actually, the lack of planning from a parents’ point can be very detrimental. This is an area that has been challenging for me since our two have transitioned into adolescence and being in high school.

With big brother, it wasn’t much of an issue as the group of ‘lads’ he hung out with seemed pretty ok. Big brother went to a local well resourced and sought after selective high school. Being a social butterfly that he is, he befriended 5boys, fondly known as ‘the lads’. Me and hubby had the privilege of meeting these pedigrees and their parents at big brother’s 12th birthday, 6months into high school. A lovely bunch of parents with sound moral standards, good careers, positive and firm aspirations for their children. Typical authoritative parents, sensitive, intuitive and insightful. We fell in love with them and felt motivated and encouraged. Easily done we felt.

During the school holidays, throughout the 4years of secondary school, the lads met quite often outside of school. These meetings varied from the adventurous sleepovers, camping in the garden, playing in the woods, cinema trips etc. We did not have a problem with the long tracks to their residences and back. We got to know the lads, and they enjoyed our company, the take aways, sleep overs at our house as well as banter with little sis. What more could you ask for?

Fast forward to our darling daughter starting high school. The dynamics are a labyrinth. She is a winter baby and her birthday was a few months after starting high school. The poor girl wanted to hang out with her old primary school friends, catch up over some warm cheesy pizza, ice cream and ofcourse shopping. She was as good as gold. What a missed opportunity for us to meet her future bffs, squad and gang!!  These are young women who have now become the centre of her world, aspirations and dreams. She now gets invited to sleepovers, shopping sprees, cinema, restaurants on every school break. And that is hard, hard for me as a momma bear assigned to protect her cubs. ‘ I don’t know these people, I tell myself.’ How do I trust them with my jewel and treasure? My job in safeguarding children doesn’t help at this stage.

I recall a few years back when my cherubs were 6 and 18months and family friends with older children were anxious about the summer holidays. I couldn’t fathom what the drama was all about. For us, it was a longed for break from early school runs and pick up. What a perfect time for lie ins, late nights movie binge, picnics in the garden, bike rides in the cul de sac, impromptu braai with friends, trips to the museum and maybe a day or two in London. Life couldn’t be perfect. We even caught the infamous Nottinghill carnival.

IMG_8207

 

Anyway, now with two teens in the house, I find myself rather unsettled and concerned about these loooooong school holidays. Why can’t they just stay in school? Right now I am a cruel, insensitive mother, you can judge and call me that.
I would implore you to keep your judgment until you understand my anxieties. Summer holidays are tricky in terms of managing the time effectively and giving your teens a sense of direction whilst maintaining a level of sanity and a decent bank balance. Don’t mention big brother needing encouragement to revise for the all important A’levels.
 I now appreciate that these results aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I deal with teens suffering significant mental health due to pressure from peers, parents and society at large. My heart goes out to them. And with that, the pressure has come off our two, not completely.. but we are working on it and very mindful 😊

The unavailability of extended family in diaspora can present a lot of challenges in terms of childcare and socialising. In most cases, our children socialise with their friends and it is a good thing. However, I cannot seem to break away from the longing of playing with cousins and making memories that endure the test of time. You know those visits to the rural areas, during the school holidays, tending to the fields, fetching water from the well, sitting around the fire waiting for the running chicken drum stick whilst having teary, stinging eyes from the smoke?. And the epic, taking a bath by the river. These kind of experiences is what I long for, for my two.

There is a significant part of me that feels I should package my children neatly and send them off to be with grandparents for the summer. Once I have done the number crunching, it becomes apparent that the sums do not add up. So we are stuck right here for now. Moreover, I have now learnt that evenings with grandparents nowadays are spent watching Isindigo or Muvhango 😳🤓

How is your summer holiday panning out? Share some love and ideas. Don’t forget to comment and share article with loved ones.

Enjoy the summer break, make memories and look after each other. Be hopeful always ❤