In India, one has little to no exposure to sex education. Sex is a taboo subject, and everyone shies away from talking about it. Growing up, I did not have much access to books about sex. The internet was not an option in India yet. Now, of course, the internet is stuffed to the gills with information, but there is as much nonsense, as there is useful information, and sifting through, is not always easy for teens. It is essential we talk openly about sex with our kids, so they do not harbor too many misconceptions, and feel comfortable coming to us with their problems.
When it comes to sex there is plenty of misinformation, so it is important your kids hear the right stuff When I was 11, I got curious about how reproduction worked. So of course, I talked about it with my best-friend. Having seen a few movies on cable, my best friend considered herself an expert on the subject. She told me that women get pregnant when they touch tongues with men. It seemed to explain tongue kissing and how the baby go to the tummy, so I swallowed it. But the next time my brother wanted to lick my ice-cream, I panicked and asked my mom if I would get pregnant if I licked it after he did.
That was when my mom borrowed the Encyclopedia Britannica from someone to explain how sex works. That is when she explained about periods too. I was astonished to hear about the existence of periods and it seemed sinister to me that it was such a well kept secret.
I have been open about periods with my daughter and I answer all her questions truthfully, without avoidance, in a way she will understand. When I was pregnant with her little sister I explained about how I was carrying the baby in the womb and where the baby would be coming out. I hope that my openness with her on the subject will reduce her embarrassment in discussing these matters with me when the time comes.
Kids experiment with sex early so if we make genitals a subject of embarrassment they wont talk to us about sex related issues
When I was little, my mother admonished me, and my friends teased me, for sitting in a way that my panties showed, when I wore a dress. So I soon learned, that there was something shameful about genitals.
By making genitals a subject of shame, we discourage our kids from talking to us about sex related issues, including any discomfort they may be experiencing, that might require medical attention. So instead of shaming them, we can explain, that certain behavior is necessary in public, for safety reasons.
Kids as young as 3 indulge in masturbation as a part of sexual exploration. It is quite normal. They should not be shamed for it. Masturbation in kids, is sometimes triggered by stress. In that case, I believe, the cause of stress should be identified, and alternative methods to deal with it should be suggested, without forbidding masturbation. Although some parents talk to boys about masturbation, they should talk to girls about female masturbation too. That way, if girls indulge in it, they will know how to do so, safely and hygienically.
We also need to explain homosexuality to our pre-teens, and make it clear, that it is perfectly normal and that teasing or bullying people about their sexuality is unacceptable.
Don't forbid, but caution. The right information must be delivered in the right way to be effective.
Teenage hormones are powerful, and forbidding something, usually, makes it all the more exciting for the rebellious teenager, or provokes their need to assert their independence. Teens are curious, horny, and eager to experiment. So shaming them, or issuing orders rarely works. They'll still do it, but if they fear you, they'll make sure you don't find out. It is important to clarify, that as parents we don't want to ruin their fun or their social life, but we are concerned about their safety. It is important, not to trivialize the intense emotions and urges they experience, so they feel comfortable being vulnerable with us.
Many teens experiment with oral and anal sex, because that will keep them safe from pregnancy. But, even in having oral sex, it is safer to use a condom to prevent transmission of STIs. Some teens make the mistake of using 2 condoms (double bagging), which significantly reduces the effectiveness of the condom, due to friction.
Some things I would tell my daughter to prepare her
Although there is some time before I have to do this, I have given it some thought. I know it may be a lot harder to execute, than I think, and things may not go to plan, but this is what I would like to tell my daughter.
Instead of stressing on my daughters sacred virginity, I would tell her, that the first time often has profound emotional impact, and it would be nice, if her first time, was pleasantly memorable, so she should wait, till she really feels ready, comfortable and safe with her partner. Comfort is, usually, a good indicator, of when it is right and with whom. How do you know if you are comfortable? Simple, is there anything you are too embarrassed to tell him or do in his presence? If so, what, and do you still think you should be intimate with him? Because intimacy is most pleasant, especially the first time, when shared with those we trust.
I would also advise her to talk it through with her partner, and not rush in to it, in the moment. I would emphasize the importance of both her and her partner getting tested for STIs and using proper contraceptives.
Finally, I would tell her, that in spite of being cautious, things can go wrong, and if ever it does, I will always be there to help her without judgement and that she should never doubt my love and support, no matter what she ends up doing.