Growing up, sexual education usually used to take this format : As soon as you start your monthly period or rather when your mother discovers you have started your monthly period, after the usual rites performed, I was told that hens used to be slaughtered to celebrate in the olden days , your mother will call you and warn you seriously about your new status or condition and inform you woefully that because of your condition you must not play with boys any more that, if a boy touches you, you will get pregnant, plays with you, talks to you, in fact as much as be in the same room with you, you will get pregnant even your towels must not touch each other when you put them on the line to dry after bathing.The story does not end there, as soon as you are pregnant that would be the end of your life, because abortion is not even an option, you will never finish your education, not get a good career, not get a good husband, not get a good life, the boy responsible will not marry you that is even if he owns up, DNA was unknown in Nigeria then so there was no way you could have proved that he was indeed responsible, so if you are lucky, your parents are saddled with you for life, if not you would even be sent packing out of your parents’ house on to the streets, this is where grandparents and the extended family come in, if you are lucky to have some good ones they will take you in, and with some luck after the delivery of the baby and a lot of pleading, your parents will have you back to come and continue your education.
Sexual education in modern times, the things my eyes have seen ehn? Things are no more left in the hands of only the parents, the church, the school, NGOs even companies that manufacture and market sex care products, the Internet,( for example my family could not escape the breaking of the Internet by Kim Kardasian), are all actively involved.
T1 now fourteen showed me some images on her IPad and wanted to find out if the
bum-bum buttocks in the image was real or photoshopped or ‘surgeried up’ I still don’t know how I kept a straight face and treated the discussion with the clinical precision it required . After she left, I started thinking ” these Oyinbo people sha, may God protect our children from their hands.” Did I hear an amen? Thank you.
So because of the way sexual education has now become common place, should n’t parents rise up to the situation by building the right foundation with their children so that by the time they start experiencing this onslaught of education, they would know how to sift the grain from the shaft? For instance condom manufacturers would tell your children to use a condom, they would not teach them about abstinence neither would they teach them that sex is for adults and preferable when married, which reminds me of another thing that my eyes saw; T2, then could not have been older than 10 years, came home from school one day and at my usual question of how her day was in school started teaching me about male condoms and female condoms:
T2: So mummy, the female condom is worn by the female and the male condom is worn by the male
Me: (thinking in my mind.“.shooooo” as my Bini people would say) I see, so how are you supposed to use it?
T2: You insert it now.
Me: Eeh hen, where?
T2:(Rolling her eyes) Look at mummy, on the genitals now, our teacher even brought a sample of the male genital and inserted the male condom on it just to show us.
|See an example of what was presented to a 10 year old child in the name of sex education,|
Me: (Yay, ori iya mi, praying she was not the only one being taught) How many of you were in class?
T2: The whole class.
Me: (Relieved a little bit) I see. Was the teacher a male or a female teacher?
T2: Female, it was Mrs Kuku. (smart girl that she is, she knew Mrs Kuku was one of my favorite because she used to keep an eye on them for me and report them if need be.
I could not help wondering; so is this sex education? Is this the way it is now taught in schools? Of what use is teaching students of a girls only school how to use male condom or even the female condom for that matter? ‘ E ma gba mi ke’.
So what is the way out?
1. I believe a solid foundation is very key, I don’t belong to the school of thought that says you should not be your child’s friend, I mean how would they confide in you and be close to you? How would I have learnt about the male condom and the female condom, how would I have been aware that my children are already being taught about sex whether properly or not?
2. Deuteronomy 6.6-7:”And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart.7. And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” In my opinion, ‘these words’ in the Bible verse should cover sex talks as well, as a parent you must summon up enough courage to talk the talk and to be comfortable when talking it. It is natural and should not be something to shy away from and whether we like it or not children will get to know about it so why not start with them before somebody else takes advantage of their innocence.
3. After talking the talk you should continue to ‘update’ the talk. After that conversation I had with T2 she has since changed school and told me she prefered the way sexual education was taught them in her new school, a mixed gender school, she said the the boys were separated during the class and she agreed to the fact that they were indeed a bit too young when they were taught the first time.
4. Be natural and explicit, by this I don’t mean undressing or getting physical but call a spade a spade if you get what I mean. I narrowly escaped being raped at age 11 or thereabouts because although my mum (feeling very embarrassed and uncomfortable) tried to talk the talk, she failed to use the correct words and so failed to communicate, you listen to this conversation:
Naijamum’s mum: Be careful with Tunde o ( not real name)
Me: Eh en, what happened?
Naijamum’s mum: He tore somebody’s thighs at his mum’s house in Lagos.
Me: Uhn, okay yes ma.
There was total lack of communication so the conversation did not serve any purpose:
a. She did not tell me whether it was a male or female’s thighs that Tunde tore. Tearing somebody’s thighs is the Yorubas decent way of describing rape and I did not know at the time.
b. I failed to grasp the fact that she was warning me about rape, I was a notorious tomboy and so thought she was warning me against eeré ipá, too rough play( my favorite then was coming from the ground floor onto the balcony of the second floor by holding on to an òjá thrown down by the same Tunde, he would pull me up and I will go down the stairs again to have another go, very dangerous but very exhilarating.
c. Before then I did not know or rather I had never really given sex a thought not to talk of ‘forced sex’ or sexual abuse. it did not occur to me that a person could be forced against her will to have sex.
4. I did not even consider the fact that girls bodies are different from boys bodies and that there could be attraction between the sexes and finally I did not consider myself to be attractive enough for somebody to want to have sex with. I mean the only thing that differentiated me from boys then were these two ‘kokos’ on my chest,
|This ‘young lady’ reminds me of myself at age eleven I mean how could any sane boy or man find me attractive?|
I even used to cut my hair, and Tunde then though a cousin was like a brother to me so why would he even consider such a thing?
Anyways, long story short, the day it happened, it was Baba God that helped me, I started crying and bawling like a baby, he too was begging me and reminding me how he was my special buddy etc but God intervened and he left after promising to give me time. When he left I bolted the door using all the locks that were rusty from lack of use. I undressed and took a look at my self in the mirror in amazement and wondered at what he saw that attracted him to me. Soooo, should I contunue? You too like gist,lets get on to the topic under discussion.
Yes sex education. So if you do the talk call ‘rape’ rape, explain what it means, let your girl child know that she is vulnerable and attractive and that members of the opposite sex would for the rest of her life want to take advantage of her, if it’s a boy child, bring him up with love and compassion. Let him know that it’s absolutely wrong to engage in sex at an early age and not to take advantage of innocent girls( by the way another male cousin of mine got one of my friends pregnant by deceiving her into believing that there were different composition of semen, the type that impregnates and the type that does not, and that you get to choose whichever you want depending on whether you want to get pregnant or not. Of course she got pregnant in Form
three and had the baby 9 months after but lucky her she eventually went back o school and later got married to the same guy after her university degree, but how many of such stories have a happy ending like that? So do you see that we have work on our hands? Let your girl child know that all semen lead to pregnancy when it is poured into the vagina, and not necessarily when you come into a room where boys are or if a boy sets eyes on you etc.
5. When talking the talk, don’t treat your child as if she has done something wrong already, as in don’t cover your head with stubbornness like Igbo-made fan,(pardon my Yoruba transliteration) if you get what I mean. Relax, bring it up in a friendly manner let her know all the options open to him/ her and let them know the consequences as well. After I scaled through the Tunde episode huddle with the help of Baba God, my parents would at any opportunity not fail to let you know that ” you see these ones? Pointing at some boys with their mouth you know how African parents point with their mouth now, dont you?
|(Even if the boys are being shown on TV and not real life for example) they will just use you to improve their sex skills because their wives have not even been born yet, they will not marry you”. When I grew a little bit older, ( an undergraduate in the university) if I ask for permission to go out( not on a date o, who born you?) they would say,” as old as you are, you cannot be tricked into sex any longer, anybody that sleeps with you would do so with your consent etc and so forth, so you can go”. When you think of what you would go through to obtain permission you would be wise enough to just give up and cuddle up with a nice book. So parents, it is not a fighting matter, just please be nice when doing the talk, okay?|
6. Above all, be there for your child, create a welcoming atmosphere, let them know they can confide in
you and that you are always there for them no matter what. After my Tunde episode. I never told my parents because I was afraid they would say it was my fault. But I wised up and so grew a radar on my forehead and knew never to trust any man anymore especially with the thought planted at the back of my mind that they are only going to use me to perfect their sex skills.
I have already had the talk with two of my children and I have also been updating the talk and something tells me the talk is overdue with my soon to be ten year old third child so I will be having the talk with her ASAP. What about you?
I pray for God’s help for you on your sex education and parenting journey as a whole.
You might want to share some of your experience, did you have a ‘Tunde episode’ too?