The sex talk
One embarrassed conversation is just not enough to explain the complexity of sex to kids, says Masanda Peter.
So many of us tend to avoid the subject of sex because of embarrassment.

I remember my supposed ‘sex talk’ came when I first had my periods which seems to be the appropriate time for most parents to have such a conversation. My mother was unprepared when I had my periods (no sanitary towels were available in the house) and I never saw her that nervous - it was actually quite funny.

As she was talking me through the process of taking care of myself hygienically she quickly said ‘ungenzi nje ke ube careless’ (don’t just do anything and be careless) and she was not looking me in the eye.

Yes, that was the beginning and end of the sex talk between my mother and I. Those 5 words were supposed to teach me about pregnancy, boys, sexually transmitted diseases and many other things that come with sex talk. That conversation was never revisited again, and although once overheard her and dad discussing as to who was going to have the sex talk with me, it never happened.

I was not the only who had a shortened version of the sex talk. This just goes to show that parents are not comfortable with this type of conversation. Of course this depends on the type of person you are. Some people I spoke to had a full explanatory discussion with their parents.

I guess for my mother and others of her generation having to discuss sex with their children was not that easy. Some parents mention that it is not easy talking about these things – note how it is ‘these things’ and they are not called by their name.

Contraception talk

Some parents say things like ‘it’s about time you go for contraceptives’ and the child wonders why they have to be. Is it because parents assume that now that they are having periods they will have sex and get pregnant?

Some parents are quite comfortable delegating this function to an outspoken aunt in the family or friend. In other cases the girl child will come back home late at night and the comment from the parent will be ’uzakumitha ke’ (you will get pregnant). In that environment the emotions are high and all you are being threatened with is that you will get pregnant.

I really hope that we will be a generation of parents that will have open and honest conversations with our children and not like it was done with some of us. A friend made an interesting comment the other day saying that we are a generation that will be correcting some of the mistakes made by our parents.

This function is sometimes left with the mothers, but fathers can also play a role. It is much easier these days because sex education is taught at schools which makes the parents’ job easier but I still feel that we should be ones having the conversation with our kids.

How did you learn about sex? How did or will your kids learn about it?

Read more by Masanda Peter

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