Sex education is a taboo subject in India. Adolescence is an age when children's body undergo various changes. Children are curious about about these changes. They try to get the information from different sources as a result of which they are misguided. We as a parent have the responsibility to guide the children in the right direction and to answer all their queries.
How and how much should a growing child be told about taboo subjects.
Your son, who turns twelve tomorrow, wants to know why Rishika sometimes get a blood stain on her white uniform. Your neighbour's daughter would like to know why her brother's voice has begun to sound so hoarse? And why can't she also pee while standing?
Questions, questions! Most parents have to face a barrage of questions from adolescent children. While these 'questions' seem embarrassing at face value, they need to be tactfully addressed at some point of time.
Be clear and candid
As a parent, you should be clear in your mind as to how and what should a child know about sex and sexuality. While you cannot let out every little detail about taboo subjects, you should be able to tackle the questions intelligently. Parents have to also consider the fact that children get information from magazines, television and the Internet. Therefore, there is no point in avoiding any queries. Parents shy away from the questions of adolescent children, quite forgetting the fact that their children might resort to some trashy magazines or a misinformed peer group.
No pride, no shame
Sexuality is a very important facet of life. Your children should have a healthy attitude towards sex and allied issues. While they should not indulge themselves in their anatomical assets, they should not even feel ashamed about any bodies. They must have a positive perspective about the members of the opposite sex. For instance, your teenage son should not take undue pride in his muscular superiority over the neighborhood girls. Similarly, your daughter should not hesitate to participate in the basketball competition merely because of her sex.
Set an example
Your behaviour, as parents, should set some inherent standards for the family. For example, an unsure and unstable mother cannot give a reasonable explanation to her daughter about the need for wearing a brassiere at the right age. Similarly, a father who looks upon women as sex objects cannot stop his son from eve teasing. Therefore, parents have to create a reasonable value system for their children. They have to draw the dividing line between promiscuity and openness.
Whether it is a son's query over pubic hair or a daughter's complaint against pre-menstrual cramps, parents must give a patient hearing. It is always advisable for both the parents to think together. Such teamwork also gives the right signals to the children. The couple can segregate their responsibilities. For instance, a mother will be able to better relate to her daughter's psyche than to her adolescent son. Similarly, a son will be able to discuss certain problems only with the father. However, situations will have to be judged separately, without deriving universally applicable solutions.
Other sources of information
Library books, educational television, academic workshops, selected sites on the Internet are among the credible sources of information for growing children. Sex education is an essential ingredient of any school curriculum. Parents should explain certain aspects to children by taking the help of their Biology and Science textbooks. For instance, if a boy is curious to know about pregnancy, parents must provide information not only from personal experience but also school textbooks.