I had returned home from a summer vacation camp. Together with fifty teenagers I had been locked into a house to discuss drugs, sex, love, friendship and so forth with a group of professionals. We had not been allowed to leave the premises but we could do pretty much what we wanted inside, and most importantly, we could speak about what concerned us at the time.
I had brought home with me guides and information leaflets on various subjects and a particular one was about sex. My father noticed it, grabbed it and disappeared from the room, only to return later with a smile on his face saying, ‘Son, I had a quick look at this guide. I think it explains everything you need to know about … hmmm… sex… I think you should read it and if there something you can’t understand come and speak to me.’
He returned the guide to me and we never discussed this subject again. Not because the guide was so well written and required no further clarifications. My father was just totally unaware about what I was going through.
So that you know, before my father offered his assistance to explain the meaning of the s word, I had already seen a dozen of hard core movies. Also, my friends and I had already identified a location not far from our suburb, where we could see, everyone hidden in the bushes, prostitutes in live action. It was not to understand the dynamics of sex that I needed help with. My problem at the time was to learn the dynamics of how to lure a girl into my bed. Like many boys my age I was extremely horny.
These days I am the father of two boys and a girl. The time will come when my children will go through similar questions as I did at their age, but will they seek their old man for advise?
Personally I think the most important message to put across, is to make them understand the complexities of sex, the meaning of protection and the benefits of waiting for the right time.
At the back of my mind I dread the possibility that one of my children one day will come home, or someone will call me, saying that their girlfriends are with child or my daughter at lunch time tells me, ‘dad… I think I am pregnant’.
If I am right, my boys’ sexual appetite will rise at age fifteen. I don’t think I will need to lecture them about how people make love, since they will know that already. If there is something worth emphasising is that waiting for the right time is a wise decision, sex is complex and if I may say, they will get plenty of it when they get older.
The trick is how to make sure they will wait for the right time without being forced to watch them like a hawk.
But what sort of trick will work in this particular situation? I watched my mother do everything she could to prevent my two brothers from smoking and these days they are both smokers. Not heavy smokers but they aren’t the kind of smokers that makes my mother proud.
I personally think the safest way to educate is by being the advocate of what we preach. We shouldn’t expect our children to read if we don’t set the example and read ourselves. We shouldn’t expect them to eat vegetables if we don’t do the same. We shouldn’t expect them to be diligent with their homework if they don’t see their parents bragging about their work and how much they love working.
As such it is clear to me that the best way to explain the benefits of love to our children is to remain in love as a couple. We should not forget that children are often pleased to see their mum and dad happy with each other. There is a sense of harmony within the family that they can sense.
It works the same way as the Chinese saying ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’. I believe that having a loving and caring relationship will originate good memories capable of influencing our children in their future decisions.
I am not saying that we should refrain from talking to them about sex and the meaning of love. But if they can perceive their parents as living a loving relationship most likely they will naturally assimilate everything we tell them.
And when they grow older and are able to make their own decisions the loving images they carry with them is something we can rely on.