What is The Talk?
A cringing, but important conversation between a parent and child mainly involving the subject of sex. There is no other conversation more vital during the life of a child than The Talk.
Why it is important?
It is better that your child learns from you what sex is rather than learning from ill-informed friends at school. No matter how embarrassing or taboo the subject is at home, there is no doubt that this discussion will come up between friends. Your child will likely face enormous peer pressure to perform certain acts in order to fit in. However, the risks and consequences of certain actions may have lasting effects on your child’s growth, mental well-being and education. These include underage pregnancies, STDs and other forms of trauma.
Children are susceptible to grooming by older adults and in some alarming cases by those in position of power and authority. The Talk helps your children to recognise the signs of grooming, inappropriate behaviour, importance of saying no, and reporting abuse, sexual assault or any form of harassment when it happens.
At what age should you start The Talk?
Ultimately, this decision lies with the parent. Some parents do it when their child reaches puberty and others even younger than that. It all depends on what feels natural to you as a parent, but consider sharing your experience with a counsellor or a friend.
How to carry out The Talk?
Have an open conversation with your child in a calm setting. Encourage them to talk to you by being a good listener, asking supportive questions. Try to answer their questions as honest as possible and allow them the space to freely discuss their concerns. Children will be more self-assured when they feel they can approach their parents without fear of punishment or shame. Remind them that you love and care about them, and want to know what they are doing. Pay attention to what they say and always thank them for talking to you. Be very clear with them that secrets that include touching, gifts, photos, videos, games and time alone with anyone are not safe. And finally, they need to know that it is not their fault if something happens.
Should The Talk be expanded?
Yes, consider including topics such as sexual assault, drugs, underage drinking, smoking and bullying in The Talk. These are relevant and topical issues affecting young children and their future. In addition, sexual acts have evolved way beyond what you knew about when you were younger. Some children might engage in certain acts under the false belief that the risks are minimal. Explain clearly to children about consent and inappropriate behaviour.
Raising a child requires a village. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are safe and are able to grow up and learn in a positive environment. All parents should do their due diligence to pass on good knowledge and sound advice to their children. As a society, we should step up on behalf of our children in order to pave a good and secure future for them.