I did a double take when my editor e-mailed me the task of writing about “Teaching your kids about the birds and the bees.” It stumped me. “You got me in this one, Boss,” I thought bemused.
Oh, how easy it was writing my experience when my wife was pregnant, or about what goes on in my mind on the day I got a first glimpse of my first-born, or my power struggles with my child, or my ways of raising them.
However, teaching my kids about the more “adult-sensitive” facts of life is something that I am having some difficulties with. Don’t deny it. We, parents, value our children’s innocence that talking about “adult” matters is simply like shattering their angelic “pureness,” at least that’s how it appears to me. And I admit it is one weak point that I have as a parent, and I have to correct myself on this.
I’m not sure about how parents from Western cultures handle the unenviable responsibility of teaching their kids about sexuality, but a lot of Asian friends share the same helplessness on the subject. It’s like knowing you have to go to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, but you keep on delaying it, or even denying it –even when you’re already rolling on the floor with pain.
“You got me in this one, Boss.”
Unlike in my previous posts, in this one, you’ll have the confessions of a fumbling father awkwardly trying to maneuver one sticky responsibility. I am talking about my 15 year-old son. I haven’t talked to him even about the flowers—much more about the birds and the bees. Anyone watched the movie “American Pie”?
The father in the movie was so into his fatherly responsibilities, but he does his father-to-son talks about sexuality and manhood too awkwardly embarrassing. The result was disastrous, at best, embarrassing. He must have made such an impression on me that I shiver at the thought of being in his shoes.
It is such a walk in the park calling your son to give him advice like, “Marron, it’s ok for a man to cry. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It simply means you are in touch with your emotions. Just don’t forget, whenever you need me, I’m always here for you.” Oh, how fatherly it sounds.
Or sometimes scold your son like, “Marron, your behavior this morning was quite disappointing. You better shape up, or else!” Oh, how manly it sounds. But talking about sex.... “You got me in this one, Boss.”
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM—STARTING LATE
The root cause of my difficulty talking about sexuality to my son is communication gap. But it still falls on the issue of “starting late.” My earlier job kept me “out of reach” of my eldest son until he reached puberty (this is the worst any parent could allow to happen—learn from this fellow parents!) and I just started to try to reach out to him now.
Open communication is the key. And there is no better time to start as when your child starts to say, “Da-da.” My experience with my first son taught me that.
Thankfully, I don’t have this same problem with my little girls. I started early. I am now always around and I can talk to them about anything that could range from the most important to the most mundane (can you imagine what outlandish things little girls ask nowadays?) When you frequently talk to your child, you talk about practically anything in the world. When you can talk about practically anything, you can talk about sex freely.