Of teenage sex and candid sex conversations

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Many people can recall that awkward first birds and the bees’ talk they had with their parents and how clueless they were about some of the things their parents were telling them. At the time you probably believed children were bought from the supermarket.

And later you got to learn from the science and biology lessons about reproduction, but you still didn’t want to imagine that your being in this world is a by-product of sexual intercourse by your parents. Many of us even went to university before ever kissing a girl or boy. And that was in the 1990s.

Today, the situation is very different. Teenagers don’t want to be told about the pros and cons of premarital sex. According to a report released on April 19, 2017 titled from From Paper to Practice: Sexuality Education Policies and their Implementation in Kenya, teenagers want to be shown how to correctly use contraceptives.

In the study that covered Homa Bay, Mombasa and Nairobi Counties, majority of the 2484 boys and girls aged between 15 and 17 who took part in the study said that telling them sex before marriage is bad is useless information – because they are deeply engaged in it. They do not want the moralistic education and counseling in their school, home or religious teachings. They say, “Just tell us how to prevent a condom from breaking. Period!”

So if you live with a teenager in your house, chances are they are more sexually active than you. In fact they probably laugh silently and even joke about it with their peers every time you flip the television channels to keep them from watching programmes with sexually suggestive scenes, or when you stash your copy of Parents magazine in your bedroom so that they don’t read the adult Sex column.

Statistics show that 94 per cent of adolescents seek sexually related information from books, pamphlets, Internet and radio. This begs the question – as a parent, are you really in control of the media? Even further the data shows that the 86 per cent of adolescents get sexually related information from their boyfriends and girlfriends. In short, you can keep your remote control they know where to learn all about sex.
Many parents today wonder how we got here? Let me answer the male parent:

1. Many men are absent from their children’s life

Before you roll your eyes and assert that you are not an absentee dad, hear me out. Yes you live with your wife and children but the truth is you never have a dad-daughter alone time or a dad-son alone time. You probably go to work early and come home late; after all you are the provider in your home. Yes you are home on Sundays for the family outing but your attention is split between your phone and reading the Sunday papers while your wife and children indulge on chips and games.

This means that by the time your children reach puberty, they do not know how to communicate with you. They don’t even believe that you can or have the will to solve their problems beyond provision of basic things. So what do they do? They talk to their boyfriends or girlfriends, and we all know to whose interests the boyfriend or girlfriend base their counsel.

2. The world has changed

Many parents still think the world is where it was when they lived in their parents’ house. They refuse to accept or acknowledge the fact that grandmothers today are no longer the only transmitters of family values to the little ones through story telling and that the neighbour’s radio is not the only source of news. So they lie to themselves that their children do not hear or learn anything outside the school and the family.

And are quite assured that their children won’t come across kissing or sex scenes anywhere so long as they control what kids watch at home. And because they have restricted the use of phones and computers by their children, then they are assured the kids can’t access sexual content including pornography.

How wrong! The best parents can do is to accept that the children of today are very inquisitive and informed. In my case, for instance, my wife and I get amazed at how our nine-year-old daughter raises questions that we only raised after the age of 18 years.

She knows a lot, and so does your seven-year-old, so now imagine how much more your teenager knows. And therefore it is important that as children tell parents to show them how to use contraceptives, be intentional about being available for your children and embracing the times we are in.

Published May 2017

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