Sexuality is one of the ways that we become enlightened, actually, because it leads us to self-knowledge.Alice Walker
Hello there, Madame Woo here, and welcome the Faithfully Madame. Let us jump right into the topic. Recently on Facebook, I involved myself in a discussion centered around young children discovering their bodies as well as the opposite sex. Discussing when is the appropriate time to bring forth sensitive conversations about sexuality with our children? How young is too young? Are the birds and the bees a conversation or a life lesson? I am happy to be adding this subject to my parenting challenges series. Sexuality is surely a lesson on patience, tolerance, and acceptance that we all need as parents. I say this always but just as a reminder, this is your life and child, do as you please.
The discussion began with the disapproval of a mother when she heard an age-appropriate TV show, her 8-year-old boy was watching, mention periods going as far as to reference blood. I am unsure of the name of the show but as well I find it irrelevant. She thought it reckless and inappropriate, to say the least, that this content would be allowed on a child-friendly TV show. When it comes to TV in my home, I am pretty lenient on what my children watch. However, even though I have only ever discussed periods with my eldest. I decided for experimentation purposes I would ask my 4-year-old son, What is a period? His answer impressed me. He said when someone bleeds. This was not very specific enough for me seeing as how anyone could bleed. I wanted to test him further so I could see if he understood the difference. I asked When who bleeds? He said, no kidding you guys this is a 4-year-old when mommy bleeds. I went as far as to ask him bleeds from where he responded from the vagina. I was so proud of him, my beautiful observant young man. And yes, of course, my children know the proper name for male and female private areas. I think wow in another 4 years would I be shocked for my son to hear the word period or a reference to blood on TV, absolutely not. This young man lives in a house full of women. He should be very aware at 8 that his body is different from his counterpart, in more ways than just private parts.
My children are young and are not aware of the act of sex but I will tell you right now they are not believing that babies come from the stork or heaven. We use proper terminology. They know that they grew in my stomach and that they came from my vagina. As well that I needed their Dad to make them, their Dad gave them to me. Periods, men, and women’s bodies are natural. They should not be objectified. We witness this treatment among women more than men which is why we should teach our young men about this. They should understand what their counterpart goes through as her body changes as well as their own. In the same way, a young woman should be taught the male anatomy which is often seen as aggressive because it endows penetration. There then lies the questions, When is the right time to introduce these lessons? What is age-appropriate?
When I was 9 and my older brother was 14, my family went to see Love & Basketball. Which today has turned into a classic Black film. The film is a PG-13 movie with a pretty intimate sex scene. Of course, my mother covered my head with a blanket during the scene that faithful day in the theater. However, I’ve since seen it many of times all the way through. My brother was old enough to look upon it according to the guidelines of PG-13. I would hope that a PG-13 movie would not be the first time my child was introduced to the idea of sex. How uncomfortable would that be? I believe in prepping children for reality. I think we do not do enough of that. We wait until they are filled with questions and do not have the guts to ask us. If society says that this is the time to introduce these thoughts to my child. I would have to think that they have waited the longest time that makes sense to wait. That at that point I should have laid some groundwork and that if I haven’t then they have taken it upon themselves to do the job for me. I think a lot of necessary conversations happen after the fact. When your 14-year-old daughter shows up one day pregnant and you blame her not yourself. You never even knew she was interested in boys or that she was giving her body away. Are we this naive? I have learned the hard way that prepping while cooking makes thinks a lot more hectic then need be.
For the sexuality thing, I really feel like the reason I speak so blunt about it is that I held it in for so long. I never told my mom. I never told my family. I kept it to myself.Young M.A
The average age a woman loses her virginity is about 17 years old. However, we know it happens older and younger for a lot of girls. At 14 was when I started exploring letting the opposite sex touch me, and I was a late bloomer than most girls my age who were having sex at this point. I would hope that my 14-year-old son and daughter would have extensive knowledge of anatomy and the inner workings of their body and their counterpart. Why would I wait until they were 14 to teach these lessons? Is my answer simply because I do not want them to know these things at this age. I would hope over the years that I have given them a steady dose of appropriate information. And who is to say that because my child knows then they will do?
I figure 4 and 5 is a good age for your child to know the proper names of all the body parts theirs and their counterpart, no later than 6. And your child saying penis or vagina should not offend you or anyone for that matter. As well they should have lessons on concealing those areas and others touching those areas. By 8 or 9, your child should be introduced to periods they will be coming in just a couple of years. And males should know what their counterpart is experiencing, it is not something that should be shameful or hidden. Females should know the inner workings of the vagina as well as the proper names such as the uterus, ovaries, etc.. The average time for periods in young women is 11 and 12. By 11 and 12 they are ready and anticipating their periods and well informed. By now both sexes are ready to learn about the use of the period and what it means to have one as well they should be experiencing some sort of sex education. What would be appropriate as far as physical contact with the opposite sex. What you expect from them as far as chastity goes. By 13 or 14 they should be discovering their sexual orientation and establishing boundaries for themselves based on what you have thought them over the years. Children are deciding the fate of their bodies as young as 9 but in the court of law can not decide what parent in which to live. A three-year-old boy can be a girl just because he likes to dress up like one but we are afraid to tell an 8-year-old about periods. Sometimes this world seems so ass backwards to me.
I have felt for some time now in my community that women are sheltered from exploring their sexuality. They are taught to hide and feel ashamed of their bodies. If they do open up and explore themselves even with just one man they are viewed as loose and fast. We lock them away in towers if we even get a whiff of this behavior. We make them hide their exploration. We invade their space and self-discovery. We need to relax a little and make sure we are a healthy source of information for our child’s curious mind, especially for our women. And teaching our young men to respect the woman and her body, for it is not his playground.
I remember when I was about 5 or 6. I was playing house with a brother and sister in my room. Our mothers were in the room just next door. Of course, I was the mother because she couldn’t be the mother with her brother, she didn’t like the idea. She played the role of the child. She suggested that we take off our clothes and get in the bed together because that is what parents do. She had two parents in her household, I had never seen anything like that being that I was raised by a single mother. Nothing happened of course and it was innocent of enough, we did not know anything of sex. It was not about that for us. Long story short we got caught and got a butt whipping. I do remember that being a turning point for me because I did not understand why I was getting a whipping at the time. I guess I should have known better than to lay in the bed with a boy naked at 6. This made me more curious now that I knew Mommy and Daddies lay in the bed naked together.
I think sexuality especially, is one of those fluid things where oftentimes we find who we are through certain things that happen in our lives.Cole Sprouse
I told you stories about my childhood but I want you to take a moment and look upon your own. Think of the first physical sexual experience you had. Then think of the first time you saw or was introduced to sex. That should be your time table for your child. I know people who were molested as children. I happen to be one of those people. Because we know what is possible we will likely prepare our children for encounters like that to better protect them. Attempting to shelter your child will not work, a lot of what we feel is instinct. I will say it again. We are people who thrive off of connection and you can not keep your child from that any more than you can keep your child from breathing.
I’ve always understood the two to be intertwined: sexuality and spirituality. That never changed.Prince
With all the information floating around these days, society is brimming and stirring with new knowledge of sexuality. Laying a foundation is necessary to keep your children properly informed so that they do not become confused. Times are changing and sexuality is at the forefront of that change. As guardians, we must make discussing sexuality with our children a staple in our normal routine as parents. Maybe it has been unnecessary or taboo in the past although I do not understand how it could be. This week, I do not expect you to make any sudden changes. However, I would like for you to reflect. Reflect on your life and childhood, think about your sexual experiences. Think about your self-discovery through sexuality. Think about how all of those experiences have made you who you are today. I hope that this post has made you consider a few things, that is always the goal. Sometimes the things we consider to be insignificant are impactful. Peace is love, Madame Woo.