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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Providing our daughters with sex education

28th December 2011

How would you feel if your daughter told you she was having sex? At what age would you approve (... if you approved at all, that is) of her dating, having a serious boyfriend, etc?

And how old were you when you decided to tell your own parents? Did you even tell your parents and decide to just handle the rest on your own? How did that work out? Are any of you in traditional/strict families?

I'm asking all of this because I have a couple of friends whose daughters are sexually active but they don’t know or they don’t even think their daughters could be sexually active so they do not talk about sex. I know that this is a HUGE deal and a very sensitive thing for a mother.

Communication between most mothers and their daughters about sex has never gone well. I suppose it's because, for most mothers their constant fears and worries about their daughters would be channeled to anger.

For example, if a child wanted to sleep over at a friend's house, or if ever she honestly wondered about things pertaining to sex, the mother would scream at her, tell her she is stupid or too young, then leave the room.

The result is that the child will learn all she has to learn about sex from others because the mother has closed all doors.

Learning from others means she might end up learning what you do not want to learn so the best way is for you to open up and talk about sex to your child making sure she knows the consequences of engaging in sex at an early age.

It is very healthy for us to open up to our children so we can tell them what is right and what is wrong. It is not taboo to talk about sex with our children it actually saves them from a lot of problems.

A university student I spoke to while conducting a research was not very happy about the way her parents had closed all avenues of communication with her. Just get to read part of the conversation I had with her in order to understand why I am saying it is very important to talk to our kids.

“ Now that I'm older and in college (although I still live at home), my parents are nowhere near as strict or as paranoid about me as they used to be.

Even then, I can't approach or trust them with anything about my life, those early fears in my childhood have made me pretty distant and bitter about asking them for any kind of help, or even telling them any kind of news about my life now... whether it's being top of the class, or receiving a scholarship, or being involved in ballroom dance and even joining competitions, my parents have been, for the most part, indifferent about it.

I've never really had a heart-to-heart conversation about my thoughts and feelings to them... the closest I've ever gotten to one was either yelling, or a simple "yes/no/I don't know." And that would be the end of that.

Despite the distance I feel us, I still love them and want my mom to know that I want to be smart and healthy about it, and I want her to meet and approve of my boyfriend .

The thing is, she's very traditional and old-fashioned, having grown up with strong religious teachings and believing that NO woman can have sex before marriage.

She's never really made an attempt to understand the things I've gone through as a teenage girl in this generation, and now, a young adult woman. Her reaction would be disastrous; I'm afraid she would refuse.

But then again, this won't be the first time that I've had to grow up and face things like this on my own.

I don't have any adult women figures in my life to turn to when it comes to sensitive issues like this. I have a lot of female friends my age who have gone through similar things, but I'd feel better if I had the insight of a mother who has had to face this, or perhaps an older figure who has had more experience.

I'm sorry for having made you listen to this long and winding explanation, the thing is, I'm still a young woman who needs guidance and has much growing up to do. Thanks for listening and I would appreciate any advice from you,” said the girl.

I was so touched by this and I felt parents need to take time to listen to their children and find out issues affecting their lives and offer advice on sex and sexuality.

Shutting out doors on them will only be disastrous since children will seek advice elsewhere which might not necessarily be good advice.

It's hard to get t0o talk about such issues with our children but we just have to because times are changing children are becoming sexually active at a much earlier age than we did and we need to equip them for this.

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