07 December 2018| 29 Rabi ul Awwal 1440| Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed
Can you imagine sitting down with your parents and talking about where babies come from? If you come from an Indian family then this is almost unimaginable. In years gone by the topic of sex has always been carefully tip-toed around.
In fact issues of sex and sexuality are so taboo we might as well talk about the ‘boogeyman’ rather than have this awkward discussion with our children. Ironically this subject is touched on in school today with kids in primary school learning about so-called “safe-sex”.
SO WHY ARE WE NOT PICKING UP THIS TOPIC IN OUR OWN HOMES
No one is saying bring it up at the supper table, but surely a discussion between mother and daughter and father and son is what we need to make the reality known and stop burying our heads in the sand as a community.
HERE’S WHY WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH OUR CHILDREN
Sexual predators are sometimes those that we know. It can be a relative who visits occasionally and makes your child feel awkward or even a neighbor. Besides looking at these signs and taking action, as a parent, you need to speak to your own children about sex so that they understand when it is right and when it is not and the role Islam plays in guiding Muslims on this issue.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE TELLING THEM?
Sex is right when two consenting adults, (preferably married because Islam does not condone pre-marital sex) engage in intimacy. It is NOT right when an adult thinks it’s fine to touch a child and make them feel that it is right.
To ensure your child is aware of it all sit down and talk to them about their bodies and how they will develop, what hormones are and that it is nothing to be ashamed of as Islam has a guide for us all regarding these issues.
Before we go unpacking sex we must speak to our kids about the changes they will be experiencing. For a teenage girl who comes of age explain to her what having her period means. Share with her that it is ok if her puberty changes are different from her friends. The pressure of growing breasts, to a forehead covered in acne, each challenge plays a huge role in the way teenagers see themselves. So make sure your baby girl understands that everyone’s body changes is different.
With your boy children they too require educating on their bodily changes. Your son will need to understand what it means when his body changes and voice cracks and the responsibility which comes with being a young adult and entering a new phase of life.
WHAT DOES HAVING SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE MEAN?
We are raising children in an era plagued with high pregnancy rates and one of the key ways to address this is to ensure we are educating them about the realities and harms of pre-marital sex.
No one is saying scare your child to the idea of sex but they should understand what Islam says about the practice. We are Muslim and the teaching in textbooks advocate for a general society which encourages on to “be wise and condomize” as opposed to abstinence until marriage which is what Islam promotes.
At the same time, sex education is beyond just talking about intimacy. School curriculums have the disease of AIDS covered at length but that does not mean you should not be talking to your child about it. This issue must be spoken about in the confines of the home environment and the only way you can do this if you have the necessary information to help your children understand the disease.
One of the biggest ways our kids are mislead on aspects of sex is by peers who are misinformed. This comes as a result of fake stories being spread among friends to be superior to the rest of the pack but in truth the scandalous story of summer sexual adventures that is shared is often just smoke and mirrors. Television and the internet have not helped either and age restrictions for sordid content are becoming lower and lower as children fall into the trap of experimenting with what they see on TV in movies or on the internet. This is perhaps the greatest challenge parents face when teaching their kids about sex.
SO HOW CAN YOU PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM GETTING THE WRONG END OF THE STICK AND PLUNGING INTO A LIFE OF HIGH SCHOOL MISTAKES AND SIN?
Be accessible to your child. They should feel that they can come to you about any question or query around sex and sexuality. Having an open and honest relationship shows your child that they can trust you and come to you about anything they feel confused about or want clarity on.
This is the sort of conversation that needs an invite by you, the parent. Children are cautious these days with not wanting to embarrass themselves and be in awkward situations. However, having an open relationship in which you sit down and discuss these things with your child will ensure a healthy relationship between you and them.
Start today, don’t wait for the right time because who knows while waiting for the right time you might miss the chance to see them being healthy teenagers who will eventually be healthy adults and may regret not having this conversation sooner.
WRITTEN BY: NAJMA BIBI NOOR MAHOMED
Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed is a journalist currently producing and hosting the afternoon show On The Pulse. Formally from Durban and having lived in both Cape Town and now Johannesburg has given her deep insight into people. Najma uses her experience with the different communities to write up dramatic sketches. In her spare time she reads memes and cooks up a storm.