It's too late to have the talk in their teens, says Marlon Abrahams.
The last week of May 2013 was Child Protection Week and I was happy to participate in a few radio interviews to add my 5 cents to the issue. Personally I’d like to see every day as Child Protection Day and on-going visible campaigns to create awareness of the plight of our children.
However, I know that child protection groups and interests don’t have the resources to go at it 365 days a year. This is why child protection must always be the responsibility of those of us who have brought children into the world. Empowerment begins with us, and we need to be vigilant that our morals, values, safety measures, protection and overall parenting is reinforced daily.
As a father of 3 beautiful young girls the thing that caught my eye specifically was that the issue of the age of consensual sex between 12 and 16 year olds no longer being a criminal offence. An attorney on a local news channel explained the implications of the act. She said that one of the reasoning behind the act was that teens will experiment and sex will happen, however, the criminalisation of the sexual encounter allows for serious and embarrassing and indeed possible criminalisation of the teens involved as a consequence of the police questioning and investigations.
I have to say I welcome the act. I’ve had the sex talk with my girls and I make regular references to it. They’re pretty much in the know of what goes on from all angles, emotions, feelings, hormones and consequences. And of course I’ve taught them all the plays in the book, so they know what to expect when the boys come knocking.
The thing is teens have been doing it since the year dot and will continue to do it. The only thing we can do is arm them with knowledge about what’s about to happen to them in terms of the changes in their bodies and hormones etc.
Clearly a teen that is informed has a better chance of making an informed decision. Also by talking about it regularly, and remember to keep it fun and interesting instead of scary and punitive, you encourage your kids to talk to you about it and not depend on the advice of other teens or worse.
I adopted an approach of demystifying sex with my girls from very young age. When we watch movies together for example and my kids would innocently question why the characters are kissing, or removing their clothes, I would explain that that is what people do when they love each other and go onto explain the implications and consequences etc. So much so that now they understand that it does not have to be secretive or taboo etc, instead it’s a normal part of life.
And yes, I’ve also explained the deviant sexual practices, like rape, child molestation and paedophilia etc. They need to know what’s out there, and they need to know from as young as they are able to grasp the concept of right and wrong, which can happen at age 2. My point is start early, having the chat when your son or daughter sprouts pubes is too late!
We all know that the best way to get a teen to do something is to tell them not to do it. Empower your kids with knowledge and love and be there when the poo it’s the fan, as it will. The “do as I tell you and don’t ask questions” never worked for us, and it won’t work for this generation either.