It has been a question to me for several years in my life; I remain surprised at how our bodies grow and function. Why do we undergo specific bodily alterations at a particular age?
My puberty was comparatively delayed than my class fellows. During my teens, there was immense confusion regarding understanding the growth of physical self. I experienced hormonal changes moderately late, while all my friends were physically mature than me.
I always found myself as an alien in their conversation. Their content of conversation and jokes always used to board overhead, as I had no idea what they intended to say. Which terminology were they using, and what is the meaning of personal hygiene? It was always my question; if a couple has love, they cannot consummate. In my contention, at that time, sex was an absolute shame and love is a form of respect, both things cannot co-exist. I was muddled with thoughts.
Generally, no one talks openly about sex, hormones alterations, sexual well being, and such issues openly. However, the information is sought anonymously. This subject is covered with a delicate layer of shyness. Even 15–16 years back, any scene on the TV programme, wherein an artist is in skimpy clothes, was meant to leave the room. Talking about body parts and hormonal changes found no dare and was out of the question. Awareness regarding the right vocabulary is also a limiting factor for the free sharing of this subject.
Querying parents about this topic is a big no and indignity. The teachers in the schools hesitate to utter a word on this subject. The syllabus in the schools is not taught and deliberated, and students are asked to read themselves. The education system should promote educational ways of sharing this essential topic among students. Still, educators owing to discomfort and shame in talking about it always tend to overlook it.
I always feel I would have a better view of puberty and adolescence if I had open communication with my parents and any of the elders. Such parents’ support is a blessing, especially for an introvert teenager.
Parenting involves rearing a child in all the aspects physically, socially, emotionally, to enable a child to present in the society in a significant way.
Sex education is creating awareness about bodily and emotional changes an individual experiences towards a certain age and how these changes are essential and affect the growth and development of any individual. Hormonal changes are natural, unavoidable and occur in every individual. This education intends to teach children regarding self-care with growing years. It is needful if parents have a dialogue with their children by creating a friend zone.
It means making a child aware of taking care of personal hygiene, sexual health, nutritious diet, avoiding activities, which affect adversely lifelong. The child should be prepared psychologically to experience bodily alterations (hormonal changes, growth in genitals and hair, changes in mood and voice, etc.). It will help to experience such changes with unequivocal acceptance and confidence. It would also ensure the preparedness well in time.
Usually, parents tell children to greet elders, to sit and eat in a particular posture and behave well with others. Whereas, the core personality part is missed or not considered crucial, which profoundly influences the life of any individual and can have harmful aftermath. Why is there so much shame wrapped in this topic? It is of great importance to a child, and they should be well informed.
Turning the ear off from this topic would not serve the purpose. In today’s world, children have access to a plethora of other sources of information, and the internet with millions of websites is one of them. In the digital era, social media sites are pervasive and handy to everyone. Children start using mobile phones at an early age.
There is an ocean of temptation on the internet, which can be misleading and derailing. It would be better if parents themselves consider it a prime responsibility before the children grasp this content from social media sites, newspapers, magazines or television. Would it not be better if parents take the onus to pave the right path for children? There is no harm at all. They will get the information, and it is advisable if parents initiate the conversation.
It is virtuous to provide them with a conducive environment for positive mental health and well-being. Parents are requested to let their children know before what are they potential to experience during puberty. Before, the outside world tends to teach them. It is worthy to unlock the shy at this stage and be friendly. It is right for them to prepare before correcting them with guilt.
There may be confusion regarding the application of this education. It is more like awareness to an individual and should strictly not be treated as providing information about pornography. It is foremost essential to be provided by someone who cares and is close to the child. It would help to build a healthy parent-child relationship.
Children should also be taught about the signs of good and bad touch. It is very crucial for their safety. It is not a single day task to teach a child about this. Earn the trust of a child, provide the emotional space to let this discussion happen, and accepted. Talk only when your child is interested in listening. Do not preach but dialogue with them. Ask your child to ask your questions and clarify keep in the view the intellectual level of the child.
Image credit: Freepik
Parmveer Singh is an Assistant Professor of Extension Education at Khalsa College Amritsar in India. You can connect with him on Twitter @Parmsingh92