Do you recall watching a movie with your parents, talking and laughing, when suddenly a sex scene comes on which seems to drag on forever? That awkward silence as everyone tries to find the remote control, ashamed to be in the presence of such a scene.
Tumo Bareetsi a consultant at Botswana Life Insurance says our parents’ prudish attitude towards sex is why a lot of young people are making irrational choices regarding sex. “In my experience as a Motswana child in a traditional Setswana home, talking about sex was out of the question. You couldn’t even watch people kiss on television without removing misplaced fluff on your pants or looking straight into the TV with a blank expression, lest your eyes sparkle or reveal any kind of curiosity. My conversations about sex, instead, were led by other kids my age who had claimed to have lost their innocence while playing mantlwane or house-house” He says Most people grew up around parents who never displayed their affection for each other in front of them, parents who never talked to them about sex except to warn us to abstain before marriage.
Some parents struggle to protect children’s modesty in a sex-saturated culture and may wonder if their children know more about the topic than they do. Also, personal sexual histories can cause other parents to feel disqualified from talking about abstinence. And, sadly, some moms and dads have a background of sexual abuse, making the subject even more difficult to address
Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior Sociology lecturer at The University of Botswana says sex has always been a sensitive topic in all cultures it has always been difficult speaking about it. “As parents, talking about sex has always been a challenge even though there are books and diagrams (teaching aids) to help with the knowledge. Parents need to know how to have age-appropriate education with their kids regarding sex because the last thing parents need is to overly educate their kids. The problem many parents have is that they approach sex education on the fear of teenage pregnancy which means they rarely teach their kids about healthy sexual relationships. Another reason most parents shy away from speaking about sex with their kids is because some parents had unpleasant situations with sex so talking about it makes them feel embarrassed they would rather rely on teachers at school to teach their kids about it.
Sex is often an awkward subject. Parents often don’t know how to approach the topic in an age-appropriate way, they may be uncomfortable with their own sexuality or they may fear “planting information” in children’s minds. The truth is millennials are a sexually charged generation, in a society where sex is at the forefront of everything that sells. Sex is the universal act that triggers a common feeling amongst people, and yet parents – Batswana parents avoid teaching their kids about sex. It is an unspoken rule not to mention sex in most Botswana homes. Most parents know the basic biology of human sexuality, they know the names of male and female anatomical parts, they know the basics of conceptionÔÇöthe fertilization of the egg by the sperm. After these basics, there is a huge lack of knowledge. Many parents do not have adequate knowledge of sexually transmitted infections or HIV. Many parents do not talk to their children about sex and sexuality because they think that the topic is taught to their children in school, if parents don’t teach their kids about sex then ultimately they will learn about it elsewhere, the thrilling unknown might be a catalyst for uninformed and unprotected experimenting.
Malebogo Bogatsu who works at Bokomo Botswana says growing up she wasn’t given the sex talk but is opting to do things differently with her two kids. “Growing up my parents were somewhat conservative and traditional, you would never hear the word sex in the house. The little sex knowledge I got, I received from my science lessons at school. I am a mother to two teenagers, a girl and boy and I’ve sat my kids down and had the talk with them. I think that as parents, we need to be able to understand that young people are going to ask questions and if kids ask questions they deserve answers. Our children need to talk to caring adults to develop their own values and limits.”
Denial is one of the biggest problems preventing parents from talking to their kids about sex. If a parent is in denial about what their child is doing sexually or what they have seen online, they are not going to even be thinking about bringing up the topic. In the current age of free online porn, overt sexuality and provocative fashion, many parents with young children are increasingly growing worried. Parents can help prevent teenage pregnancy by providing guidance to their children about sexuality, contraception and the risks and responsibilities of intimate relationships. Talking about sex, sexuality, contraception and reproduction does not give teens the green light to have sex, as some parents fear. An open, honest dialogue can prevent misinformation and unnecessary risk-taking.