Sex Education has nothing to do with Blue Films.

One day my kids came from the park and wanted to know if what their friend A, then 11, had told all the kids in the park was true. What A had told them would have put a B Grade movie director to shame. My first thought was to call her mother and give her a piece of my mind. I had told my kids how the baby first looks like a bean, then a lizard… and I had shown them pictures of a fetus growing in the womb, even talked about the Sperm and the Egg, and but I had totally avoided the question, asked once and then forgotten, about how does the sperm reach the egg.

Well, now someone else told them, and this was definitely not how I would have chosen for them to learn!I had talked to them about child abuse. They knew they could say NO to anybody picking them up, touching them or talking to them in any way that made them uncomfortable. They also knew that the parts of their body covered by their swimming costumes were not ever to be touched by anybody (except mother while giving them a bath etc or a doctor if required). They knew even the most respected relatives and teachers had no authority to talk or touch in any way that made them uncomfortable. And most of all they knew they would never be blamed if something like this were to happen. They knew they could come and tell me anything.

Yet when they did I was taken back. What do I tell them now …? Do I lie? Call the other mothers and ask them how they were handling this? I remember being uncomfortable and vaguely talking about the necessity of love and marriage, of AIDS and babies requiring two loving and devoted parents, also about rules of living in a civilized society… I remember thinking my reaction should not frighten them into not asking any questions when next time there is something they don’t understand or are frightened of.
Here’s what I remember saying.
1. What she told you is true; it’s normal. It’s very personal and people, always adults, generally get married first. No adults other than your own parents can talk about this to you.

2. Yes this is how babies are made.

3. Yes even some unmarried people might do it, but generally that is considered very wrong, because…

4. Because… we fear what would happen to the baby who is then born. Babies need two parents to love them? Also we feel that the two people must love each other first. (Avoided moralizing).

5. We also fear AIDS – a very serious illness, which has no cure. There is a risk of other infections also.
6. If one of them does not like it and still the other forces them then it is wrong. It’s called rape. If someone does that they can be punished by being sent to jail.

7. There are emotions involved and that might lead to complications. I also talked about babies who are abandoned because of premarital sex. And about social stigma attached to it. (Just some facts, no moralizing.) And how love and respect, and commitment, makes for happier relationships.

8. The school had discussed changes in their bodies, I also talked about it.
I realised this became an opportunity to build trust. In the following years they continued to ask questions that were often shocking, but it was a relief that they were asking me and not someone in their peer group.
Many parents fear this openness might make the kids learn too much too soon, but we don’t really need to tell them more than what is age appropriate. Some kids may never ask, but that doesn’t mean they do not know.If we don’t tell them, their friends, advertisements, movies, magazines etc will- we may not like what they will learn from these sources.
In no way has this openness made the children too ‘liberal’. Even some rather conservative school teachers have remarked on how ‘innocent and open’ they are. I think they are innocent because there’s no guilt involved with the knowledge they have. They know everything they should know- and they have learnt it from the one source that truly cares about their well being- today- (not just about their next life, which they probably don’t care for) and I think they find that very reassuring.

I fear moralizing because that can make any teenager worth their salt suspect our motives. So I would talk about hygiene and better life, and not about goodness and purity. Also when we know they are assaulted with so much information, and misinformation from every imaginable source the last thing we would want is they consider us too priggish to care for our opinion. I don’t think anything could be worse, because then they will just stop talking to us.

Also if values and morals are brought into something I would rather, I be the teacher. I definitely want my kids to grow up with my values, without having any guilt associated with everything that stands for fun. (Clothes, grooming, just hanging out with friends, parties, dancing etc also fall in this category.)

When later I did call one of the mothers to ask how they had handled it, I found this child had not told her anything. She said, her daughter had no idea about ‘these things’, even if there are any ‘indecent scenes’ on the TV she quickly changes the channel.

I did not ask her if she wondered how the child knew which scenes were indecent (She would have said it’s instinct?)

Many of us believe that we can protect our children better by keeping them ignorant, but the only choice we really have is how they learn. Whether they learn or not learn is not an option, either we tell them, or their half informed peer group would.

Sex education does not mean teaching them sex before marriage is good. Children need to know about sexual abuse, they should know they can complain without fearing being blamed for it. As they grow older they need to know that they are ‘normal’ and any changes, physical and emotional are natural, and if there is something wrong they should be able to recognize it and take appropriate action, and not go through hell not knowing what to do. One cursory glance at any Agony Aunt columns will show us what kind of misinformation thrives when ignorance is considered safer.

Girls should also have someone they can speak to. Remember Maggie of ‘Thorn Birds’? Our government schools need female counselors for girls, preferably medically trained with instructions to keep confidences. If some of the victims in recent cases of incest knew there was someone they could speak to, they would not have suffered for so many years.

They also need to know about AIDS, and how to avoid it. We hear of women infected by their husbands, and I have had two maids with AIDS widows in their family. AIDS is more wide spread than we realise. I read a post by Malayalidoc (a doctor) where the abuser, a father infected his daughter, but everything was hushed up.

Our fear of sex education has created a situation where everybody except the victims knows what the dangers are. Education is one field where uneducated politicians should have no say.
I remember reading an interview where some ministers objected to sex education and they mentioned blue films.

“The issue rocked the state Vidhan Sabha when members ….alleged that ….it was a “planned attack” on the Indian culture. A time may come when blue films will be screened in the name of AIDs awareness programmes in the schools.

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Related Posts:

It’s child abuse, not an ‘affair’.

Cee Kay’s post on shock proof parenting. (by CeeKay)

A substitute for sex education. (by Naive Indian)

No to sex education. (by Smitha)

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92 thoughts on “Sex Education has nothing to do with Blue Films.

  1. Pingback: Baby name meaning and origin for Brinnon

  2. I think I’m going to save this post so that when it is time to talk to my daughter, I’ll have a reference guide…

    I am honored that you think it’s worth saving and referring to Sraboney! Thank You 🙂

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  3. Great IHM you have told it such a way to ur kids that i had learnt how to answer my kid when she grows up.And i remember my mom told us about the fetus growing in the womb…..

    “I had talked to them about child abuse. They knew they could say NO to anybody picking them up, touching them or talking to them in any way that made them uncomfortable. They also knew that the parts of their body covered by their swimming costumes were not ever to be touched by anybody (except mother while giving them a bath etc or a doctor if required).” LOVED THIS IHM,but when is that we should tell them,i mean at what age we should tell them abt all these?

    Varunavi I started telling them from the very beginning, age one and a half onwads, very simply, not like an instruction, like we say, ‘Drink water it’s hot’, same way while changing, bathing, just having fun together, very lightly say it often, but don’t ask leading questions.. or give suggestions, like “Did so and so do this?” They might think get confused and say yes.
    My policy was No over reaction, no matter how shocked, because they might think they have caused our hurt/anger/shock etc and then they may not tell us anything… I should seem to them, all a part of growing up.

    My daughter asked me, how pinky came out of the stomach,i told her doc made a cut on my stomach and took her out,then i showed her the cut as well and she stopped asking questions abt that. It is better not to hide with them and not let them get the info from other sources.

    I totally agree, and it’s better if they already know and Varunavi, they are not shocked if we tell them very simply, also then they get used to sharing everything with us. With daughters think how strong a bonding this will create? I always leave a link to a poem by Usha Pisharody, it’s about a mother-daughter relationship …. and it’s so beautiful, I will find and give you the link here, I know you will love it too.

    Very well written IHM and useful as well:)

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  4. 🙂 I do not have anything to say and I am saying it 😉

    LOL…. good one IHM…… i liked the way you put it….
    Personally, I will cross the bridge when I come to it…. too early for me!!!

    Ajit these things become a way of thinking, my sister in law gave me book to read when my kids were not yet born, but it made a difference to the way I looked at all kids 🙂

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    • you are right IHM… when you say that they do become a way of thinking…..

      I can say that coz I have decided that I will never have “hot Dosas” (not chappatis) after reading your blog………. 😀

      🙂 LOL!!!!

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  5. There was a similar topic on Smitha’s blog recently.
    I wrote this one after reading Smith’s post 🙂 That post is linked at the bottom.

    IHM, kids always know more than what we think they do. I’m speaking here with my own childhood
    as a reference. How much ever we try to ensure they learn the right things from the right sources, it’s always not possible that way. And that’s why we need sex education.

    Absolutely true Masood! That’s exactly what I was trying to say in this post!

    I’m so glad that you took it upon yourself here to educate them. This is a serious matter. With so much information available to kids via internet or peers or movies, it’s almost next to impossible to keep tab on them.

    And you are right, sex education need not be only about sex per se. We can educate them about all aspects w.r.t. sex – good and bad. It is complicated. Many adults don’t understand it so what are kids. Our great politicians feel it’s an alternative to porn. Ha! If a kid decides to watch porn, he/she invariably will and frankly, we can’t stop him/her. It is their conscience. It’s a different debate all together if porn in itself is good or bad. I, for a fact, know that 90% of all boys at some point in their early teens have access to it.

    Masood, I know and I agree it is none of our Politicians or anybody else’s business what they watch- although I think it is considered a crime, it’s outrageous!

    What we need are good counselors aka teachers, a proper well thought through mechanism, this has to be treated like any other subject, content/lessons all to be introduced at different stages of schooling, maybe not individual subjects but part of a course, say starting from grade 6 or 7 to grade 12. Sex education is important. Some parents, like you, might take initiative and sort it out with their kids, but what about the vast majority out there who don’t know how to deal with it?

    I agree Masood. I wish more people saw this the way you do!

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    • And I agree with the fact that we need good Sex educators who can actually impart knowledge and not make it a practical.

      Patan case where male teachers abused and raped girl students was the worst, I think, we should have only female teachers on girls institutions.

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      • Well I think there shouldn’t be anything like “girls’ institutions” or “boys’ institutions” in the first place ! Gender-segregation is at the heart of a lot of problems.
        And gender shouldn’t be a consideration at all while appointing a teacher !

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  6. Hmmm… my kids are very young so it is too early for me to opine on whether I would be so pissed off if someone else taught them something.

    I feel, they’ll definitely hear a lot of things and you can’t do much about it. But the best you’ve done is your children come and verify it with you 🙂

    I was just trying to say that for all the noise we make about not wanting sex education in school, they know much more than we realise, ………..as if we can keep them from learning! Rakesh, I didn’t mind someone else teaching them, it is a part of growing up 🙂

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  7. IHM, Very well written! I don’t think I have anything to add.

    But want to share something. A friend of mine with a 13 year old son had a sex education class in school where it was taught to use condoms to have sex nothing about age appropriateness. May be it was not needed because their job is to give education.

    Further they took an object which looked just like the male organ and they showed how to insert. There was a lot more info but I was in a state of shock after reading such details imparted on a 13 year old.

    Solilo, I agree about age appropriateness… I have often been totally against the stuff the kids are taught in school, so I teach it again at home. And if we don’t sound unreasonable, I am sure we can undo whatever damage we think the school might be doing. But also consider that our kids know more than we realise. Sometimes, a lot more, and often not very correct, .. keep an open mind, every child is different, .

    I don’t know about anyone and call me stone aged in this matter but I think it is too much for a 13 year old. At 11 even we learned about reproductive system but I don’t think a 13 year old needs to learn about intercourse. Yes! there are internet sources and so much but we as parents have some responsibility and I think we can impart knowledge too. The levels of classes are optional so there is no way that I am allowing my kid when she turns 13 to learn too much.

    I don’t think you are stone aged at all, and I guess if the levels of classes are optional then one can choose the appropriate level. With young children I would be more concerned about abuse, and people trying to be too familiar. In India we need sex education because parents don’t and can’t teach – they won’t even consider it, and the curiosity, ignorance, myths, superstition, abuse, taboos- everything is rampant, and we refuse to talk about it!

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    • IHM, I totally agree with you on that.

      Many times parents forget to tell children that it is not okay for anyone to touch them in an inappropriate manner and also I think it is a parent’s duty to make sure the kind of people the child is interacting with. We hear of sexual abuse so often and sadly almost 90% cases it is someone from the family.

      Recently there was a post in Mumbai mirror about Harish Iyer, a blogger who also started Sita Sena. He was abused for long by his uncle. It is so sad and something people don’t even care.

      For that we need to bring our children with confidence. Only a child who knows that he or she can easily go and talk to the parent can become confident.

      I totally agree Solilo! And since it is almost impossible to tell who could be a potential abuser, it’s best to make some common rules followed for all male adults.

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    • I studied in a British school and had my first sex education class when I was 12. And thank god I did, since I had my first boyfriend by the age of 14 (and that was considered too old by my peers who had their first boyfriends much earlier). By early teenage, we were all, more or less, sexually active. But it was that sex education including education about contraceptives that made us responsible in our choices. Otherwise we’d just have been ill-informed and frankly, I shudder to thing what might have happened. No one looks for a pregnancy or STD at that age (STDs at any age, I must add)

      So age 13 seems quite practical to me.

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  8. “Our government schools need female counselors for girls, preferably medically trained with instructions to keep confidences.”

    I think our schools in general need counselors after reading how one teacher actually punished and killed a little girl.

    Yes Solilo, that was shocking! Trained counselors are really needed, in all schools.

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  9. I love your header; I think it’s more appropriate than your previous one and more fun…
    I can’t understand why I can’t get to your posts without going to recent posts? Even when I click on ‘Home” it goes to the ‘I Blog About’ page…

    I am sorry Sraboney, I was creating the ‘I Blog About’ page and trying out this and that… thanks for telling me you couldn’t reach the posts. This header is Solilo’s surprise 🙂

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  10. Nice and comprehensive! It’s difficult isn’t it when one learns from pals! I learnt about sex from my friends when I was 11 and it was quite a shock to me! 🙂 Wanted to spare my kids that but I guess there were some things they did learn from their friends although I was gently telling them things off and on! Overall I think the most important thing is for the kids to be able to come home and tell their parents, discuss the issue and have it explained.

    LOL Nita that’s exactly what happened with my kids! But I agree, atleast they can come and have it explained 🙂

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  11. I remember that I got all my sex ed from a dictionary, not because my folks were not open, but because they had taught me how to use one- they had always told me to look up difficult words there and not really banned magazines. Anyhow I educated my cousins- well they better get the facts from me than nonsense from others. My aunts were scandalized, but my mother was not, and she always defended me, saying, its a good thing to know.

    Absolutely with your mom here. I also thing it is good to be aware, because ignorance is rarely bliss. I had done the samething Allytude, but I had not found a four letter word in any dictionary and had to finally ask my mom! She was shocked but only for a moment 🙂

    Personally I think innocence does not come from ignorance- rather knowing is important- it is easier to guard against abuse that way. Also while age appropriate knowledge is important, making something a taboo only increases its allure.

    I agree here too. I have just read this book called A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Artwood. and it says the same thing, make it a taboo and it starts looking attractive…

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  12. IHM, I just hope I am able to communicate as well with my daughter! Agree with everything you have said here. It is so important that a child gets the right information at the right time – with the right message. I love what you say about not moralising – it is so true.. Especially in case of teenagers, because I really think that moralising could really turn them off.

    Yes Smitha I feel this strongly, also very smart kids will have their own ideas of morality, so it might just backfire!

    Subjects like AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases need to be brought up, so that they understand the dangers involved. I really feel that sensible imparted sex education is the way to go – and if the schools are not doing a good job – we have to compensate as parents.

    And I am so with you when you talk about teaching about the ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch ‘ – studies do show that most cases of child abuse – are within close family circles – either relatives or close friends – these are essentials for a child to know.

    Yes and there is no way to tell who is a potential molester, so same ground rules for all. I still follow ‘better be rude than sorry’.

    ‘Our fear of sex education has created a situation where everybody except the victims knows what the dangers are. Education is one field where uneducated politicians should have no say. ‘ Yes!!! Education is best left to people with experience with children – definitely not uneducated politicians!!!

    I saw your update yest – and had not been able to get to my laptop until now!! Wonderful Post IHM!! Wish we had teachers like you in schools to take up these complex issues!!!

    I had also seen your post days ago and I had this one in draft for ages, so when I read yours – I just knew I had to post this one. Kind of, the more people talk about it the better it is.

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  13. I agree with you IHM – there should be female counselors for girls, and they, too, should be periodically monitored to make sure that young girls are not being taken advantage of in the name of sex education.

    Mystic Margaita This thought crossed my mind too, so I totally agree. In fact we have so much corruption, this will be really required.

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  14. your children are lucky to have got such honest answers when they sought to know.. here in the city, I saw graffiti at many places, both in English and Bengali, against sex education. highly disappointing—especially given the amount of child rapes (and murders) these days..

    i remember our school organized some talks in class 5 on its own initiative and we came out a wee bit embarassed but definitely wiser..

    Gauri we had no sex-education and learnt from friends, we were ignorant, our education came from Mills and Boons, others were reading Harold Robbins and Nancy Friday (extremely popular for sex-education in classes VIII to XII!) – there was also this belief that girls are supposed to know less than boy, the above two authors were read by the boys and we were advised not to read them by the same boys 🙂

    I think those boys would have also benefited from some responsible education. Simplest would be some good, sensible, books readily available – make it easier for the educators also.

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  15. I think you handled it perfectly. This is exactly how I picture myself talking to my kids (if ever). I think you’re an awesome mom.

    btw, the header is GORGEOUS.

    Thank You, and thank you again 🙂

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  16. IHM, this is an excellent post. I wonder why most parents don’t talk about it more often with their kids or discuss these issues in public. So kudos to you for bringing this up.

    Another thing I have noticed is that often sex education consists of teaching kids to stay away from predators and that also it is taught only to girls, when we clearly know that even small boys are targets of sexual predators.

    Hope that changes in the years to come.

    Since I don’t have kids yet, I won’t know what to do. But do you think that teaching kids about people with alternative sexual preferences e.g gays and lesbians also should be included or taught as part of their sex education. The reason I am asking is that I recently I watched a propaganda video by the christian right which basically tries to teach that it’s OK to condemn people with alternative sexual preferences. Here it is

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/fear-mongering-is-all-they-have-left.html

    I am strongly against religion or law interfering with our personal lives, and creating victimless crimes. I feel what two consenting adults do can only be objectionable to either of their partners if they are committed. Hitler also persecuted gays and lesbians. Now let me watch the video …

    If a child hears about such stuff from his/her friends, what do you think should be the appropriate response from parents. As for me I think that if parents avoid talking about it then children may be more likely to develop a bias against it. But on the other hand some may say that the discussion is inappropriate. What do you think?

    I learnt about homosexuality very late in life, here’s how I heard it clearly explained for he first time.
    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/yet-another-four-letter-word/

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  17. and when the time comes for me to talk to my kids about sex education, i know who to contact for a trusted briefing 😀

    Welcome Philip 🙂 But actually these things are taught everyday, while talking, eating, playing… and if you are not unnecessarily uptight you will find yourself giving the simple answers, moralizing is the worse sin (I feel) – when it comes to answering a child’s curious questions.

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  18. Hey a really nice post. I liked the way you dealt with your children and the difficult questions.

    It is always difficult to decide what to say and I whole-heartedly feel the content should be age appropriate and not give mixed messages. Take the case of US ..all that sex education and some of the highest teenage pregancies and oral sex is not even considered a sexual act by the teenagers and indulged in at an alarming frequency and an even more alarming age..age 12 onwards…. Culture plays a role here and you covered it by telling your children about the emotional and physical repercussions of pre marital sex or babies without marriage. I think that is what is lacking in US and hence sex education has been such a failure here.

    Anyways loved your approach …and though I work on sex trafficking issues and conduct such workshops all the time,

    You work on sex trafficking issues? I would like to read if you post about your experiences… although I am sure you see a lot of trauma and exploitation, it will do us good to know about this less talked about but very serious issue.

    I know I will be sweating it out when I have to talk to my kids.:) Will be looking up this post def. when my time comes.

    Chrysalis Thanks 🙂

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    • I had done some posts before on sex trafficking when I just started blogging which is not very long back, but will post it again so check it out and give your feedback.

      Thank You Chrysalis, I would like to do that.

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  19. Very true, IHM. As long as parents shy away from this subject, children will try and learn from other dubious sources. Sex Ed needs to be a part of the school curriculum. I wonder when both the authorities and parents will understand this….you may remember I wrote about this last year, and almost a year later, we are exactly where we were then.

    Quirky Indian

    I would like to read that one …

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  20. Too good.. wish I could send my kids over to you!

    Even when we are aware about everything, when it finally comes to the act of actually telling them, we chicken out!

    God help us…

    Happy Kitten most of this education begins right from toddler-hood, my daughter tried to stand and pee when she saw boys in her play group (age 21/2) do that! It took me a while to understand what made her do that, then I explained how boys are different from girls. Then about good and bad touch, about how every tom, dick and harry cannot scold them just because they are smaller in size, and how they are within their rights to say No to any adults if they are uncomfortable about something …
    If we tell them suddenly it might shock them, like they shold definitely know about how their bodies change well before the changes happen. And they should know more whenever there is any curiosity. Ignorance is neither cute nor bliss, and it is not innocent either 😦 Most abused children are ignorant.
    But more than anything they should know you will not condemn them no matter what, you will be by their side. See the whole world is with us when we are right, parents aught to be ther when the kids are wrong. Not to support or spoil but to guide- very gently.

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    • Thankfully, the good and bad touch was conveyed to them much earlier.. but then there are some questions for which I was not prepared.. for instance my son heard the “F’ word being used in school and wanted to know why it is bad and what it stood for… oh it was tough to answer him.. nd then how about when the advert for condoms come up on TV? the questions can be funny 🙂

      lol yes 🙂

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  21. that was so well handled IHM! perfect is an understatement. i wanna applaud, hug u n touch u feet all at the same time!!!

    thank u…tho i am quite a few years away from being a mom, i am going to very much use this as reference when its sex-ed time for them.
    THANK YOU Crafty Shines 🙂 I feel truly honored!

    IHM, i have quite a few parents as colleagues, and am printing this out to put up on my softboard.
    this is worthy of being in a newspaper, in the faces of uneducated politians, n a guide for all responsible parents.

    u make one hell of a mom IHM, n i have no doubt ur kids will grow up to be well-rounded, healthy-minded, responsible citizens and human beings, just like their mom!!! 🙂 super loads of hugs!!

    Aww thanks, thanks a ton Crafty Shines 🙂

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  22. Lovely write-up. Parenting is so tough! I like the way you handled the qtns. Thankfully we had sex education in school as well as college…so we werent ignorant nor misinformed. Ofcourse before we actually had the education I had heard various ridiculous theories floating around which at the time I thought was true! With diseases like Aids spreading I think every school should have sex education.

    Homecooked can you believe it, they are planning to ban sex education, since, they claim it is against our cultural ethos 😦

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  23. I stand up and applaud… brilliant post. my guide to teaching ojas.

    on a lighter note, just yesterday i met a friend whose daughter turned 3 and she was saying old pics of when she was pregnant so she explained her how she was inside her stomach and in the end of it she cutely told her mama please dont eat me i dont want to go back into the stomach 🙂

    Monika that reminds me of my Hansel and Gretel jokes with my kids, where I was the witch fattening them to make good meal, then one day in a crowded showroom, my daughter announced to all that her mother was a WITCH, she was three I think, and got dirty looks because everybody (I guess) thought she said B not W 🙂

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  24. As a Doctor I bow down on my knees and Salaam you for teachin your kids the one big thing that has the potential to change their lives and health for better or worse :o) Thank u…for being so open minded…diplomatic and yet as honest as you could possible be given the age of the kids.
    may i suggest a Video, when they’re older? Sex is v.unpleasant to watch. and it will turn them off for a few more years. *Devious smile*.

    lol rotfl :))

    Perhaps you could have a discussion with the other ladies…in ur age group, with kids etc. With school teachers. Spread the word you know?

    Hey Doctor Coffeeismypoison Thank You 🙂

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  25. You made a good point there. Sex education is a necessity in these days.

    I do wonder if there is a possibility of teens trying it out as they get curious about what they are taught. For e.g. teen pregnancies are very common in the western world where sex education is taught.

    Yogesh teenagers learn anyway, they learn about sex without learning about the responsibilities that come with it, respect, emotions etc should also be talked about, but none of the their sources – friends, porn, books, agony aunt columns teach them that. Also their own bodies are changing, and very often they are not sure what are ‘normal’ changes, which can be traumatic.
    We think we can avoid all trouble by not teaching them about sex, but that is almost impossible, they learn anyway. Our only choice is that they learn from the right and responsible sources. India has as many sexually active teenagers – but either they are married or it is a subject that is never discussed, so we don’t hear about it.. In case of Indian teenagers either the baby is aborted or the girl might be forced to commit suicide. We punish foolishness too severely and then also only half the offenders (females) are punished. I prefer the American system, where they do not approve but they do not ostracize either.
    Also I read two reasons for teen pregnancies in America are abhorrence to abortions and the financial support they get, not sure how true that is, but I think our system is another, crueler extreme.


    Definitely won’t like to see that in our society which is developing rapidly on the lines of the western world.

    We need not follow any other cultures. We should just make our own culture more open, less biased and more balanced. Think of how much oppression goes on successfully because of our taboos- we have cases of child abuse and incest that are never talked about, I will find the link of the case of incest that came to Malayalidoc – compare that to the West.
    Why do you think is Western culture so bad? I prefer their openness to out system of refusal to discuss.
    If you find the time, Read this about our culture,
    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/practical-paro-artless-chandramukhi/
    And this about the Western Culture,
    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/why-i-love-western-culture/

    And this third one about why it is fine for boys and girls to not be segregated.
    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/boys-and-girls-holding-hands/
    I would like to hear your views on these.

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    • I am not against sex education 🙂

      I am sure that there are many teenagers in India who are sexually active. I was trying to draw my point that this is no different when child marriages used to take places and teenage girls would end up getting pregnant at an age of less than 18 and risk their lives. The only difference today is that they might indulge in it with free will without any realization of the consequences of their actions.

      I had attended a sex education lecture during my school days where they taught about how the reproduction takes place, etc. At no point they talked about responsibility. Teaching sex education is good but what about the responsibilities of one’s actions if things go wrong. Remember condoms don’t provide 100% protection and taking contraceptive pills without proper knowledge is not advised.

      We definitely need some serious talk about responsibility here Yogesh!

      Regarding the Cultures

      I would like to add that every culture has something good and bad to offer. The western world is quite open and I agree to that, but with that we have also look at the other side where the number of divorce rates are high, children unable to handle the divorce leading to depressed lives and of course the number of sexual assaults is highest in developed countries.

      Yogesh from what I know cases of sexual assaults against women are much, much more in India – and that is when a large number of cases are never even reported because of social stigma attached to such crimes. If you read the posts I had linked, there are experiences of three women bloggers who have lived in India and then lived in the West and found them selves much safer there.
      About Divorce rates, I feel a low divorce rate is no indication of happier or better lives. I know personally , enough couples who would have been much better if they could live separately. Sometimes women are not independent, sometimes they are afraid of the society. Children growing up in violent or unhappy families will also benefit from a peaceful life with divorced parents. I am not saying divorce is good, but living unhappily for years and years and causing unhappiness to the partner, and the rest of the family is not the happiest option either.

      We are opening up as a society and we should see if things fit in our scheme of things.

      Segregation of Boys & Girls

      I am not sure who came up this idea, but it’s a totally wrong one. I am totally against it.

      Like

  26. fantastic post!
    totally agree with what you have written.. i hope i show the same maturity levels when it comes to telling my kids! 🙂

    Just be honest and don’t moralise Pixie!

    Like

  27. I got my sex education from a friend who had received it from a friendly didi she had met at a party. It was pretty similar to what you have described. I was in shock and concluded that this couldn’t be and the friend has received wrong info. I was the type of over smart kid who always thought the question is printed wrong when she didn’t know the answer in the exam.
    So anyways I just assumed this was not possible. Never bothered to check with Mom or sis or anyone else. I don’t know when/how I realized it wasn’t. For a long time, I was thankful to the friend because surprisingly that was the only sex-ed I ever received…

    Lol@ I was the type of over smart kid who always thought the question is printed wrong when she didn’t know the answer in the exam. :))
    And we all received our sex ed from friends! Not always accurate, I grew up with some incorrect ideas, and all friends thought the same so even if there had been some doubts, there would have been no way to verify.

    Like

  28. IHM I will do a soapbox kind of thing here, as I usually tend to do- with your permission of course!

    I think sex education is a good thing. Even if it may seem more mature for the age group it is targeted to. Because in knowledge about taboo topics, more is better than less and certainly more so than misinformation. Age appropriateness I do not know- and maybe will not be considered worthy of talking about, since I do not have children, but i certainly think a class room is a safer environment to learn about sex, the use of contraceptives and about STDs and their prevention, than say a porn film or word of mouth.
    That all parents can have the “big talk” with their children unflinching, I refuse to believe- most parents, indeed most adults I know of have their hangups and wallow in as much misinformation as their children do. There are plenty of people who get married and do not know of adequate birth control- or even the how to’s of sex and sexuality.
    I agree, I too wasn’t sure about how to explain and most of the explaining had already been done by friend here!

    And knowledge about sex, as in a non-moralizing sort of a knowledge, is not going to make people try. Indeed, studies have been carried out- in the USA that have shown that teens with inadequate sex education tend to engage in more risky behavior.

    Yes I have read this too. You are so right Allytude.

    As for the completely pointless Western Eastern culture debate, I think it is human nature we are talking about. Hormones are not nationality dependent. And really, isn’t a need for sexual fulfillment as ingrained in all human beings as that of food and shelter?
    I agree again.
    So why would we like to pretend that “these things” do not happen in the East? One billion people are not all created through divine intervention- after all and not all are born within wedlock.
    Sex education is more than just the “birds and the bees” talk. It is a health issue- for instance male and female “plumbing” systems ( wanted to use this euphemism!!!) are different and both can have a variety of issues not all f which are sexual intercourse related. Sex education in its entirety covers that.
    And there is the child abuse angle-which IHM has covered very comprehensively. And a host of other things. Our sexuality and our acceptance of it to a very large extent determines our personalities. Why then are we so quick to pretend there is nothing there? Why do we allow a very big reality of who we are as peoples, as a species even, be hidden away just because some amongst are squeamish enough to pretend otherwise?

    Brilliantly put Allytude!

    Like

  29. I still have you blogrolled under your blogspot address…really need to change that now so that I don’t miss out on your fantastic posts.

    I also believe that when your child comes to you with these questions, you should be as honest as possible.

    I remember when we were young, my parents would always fast forward kissing and making-out scenes on the TV. I understand, I really do and I know a lot of parents do the same. But the result is I still feel squeamish about watching such scenes in a movie with them. Also, I need a lot of will power to keep my hands away from the remote when people kiss on TV and my EO and the Nephew are watching with me. 🙂

    I find we are more squeamish about kissing scenes than even violence and rape scenes. I think it is healthier for children to see displays of affection than to see cruelty which might frighten them or desensitize them. A peck on the cheek or a kiss between the parents is in fact a good thing for child to see, might make them see that adults also like to be loved, hugged, valued and specially boys will understand that expressing affection is fine.

    Like

    • On blogger, I would be informed of your writing back, here I have to come back and find your replies…takes some getting used to! Old age and all 😉

      I totally agree with you. The MIM and I make it a point to be affectionate and give each other a peck every now and again in front of the boys so that they know it’s not taboo. And I am anal about violence on TV, especially the psychotic kind. Despite rants, tantrums, tears and declarations of what a mean mamma I am, I have stood fast and not let my five year old EO see the Dark Knight even though “all (his) friendses has seen it!” I even monitor the cartoons he watches!

      Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?
      I did the same Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma… and in the end they are going to be proud of the trouble you took. I even say, it would have been the easiest thing to let you watch anything and get out of my hair 🙂
      I think not getting comments response in the in box is something I miss too!! You know what, you can click ‘subscribe to comments’, and I will make sure I write your name before each comment response, so you will know it is yours… will that help??

      Like

  30. I complete agree to what you say.. for sexual abuse is a huge problem in India.. 54% is no joke.. and yet ppl r not willing to talk.. to their own children! Makes no sense..

    And I remember being curious.. We had this book about “sex” and birth etc etc at our home.. but we were forbidden to read it as if it was something bad!

    They dint mind if we read something about philosophy which was way beyond our level.. but they did have issue with us reading about it..

    Well forbidden fruit and all.. We did read it through :0 though we didnt u\s much at that point of time.. I was 10 then I guess..

    The foreword said that the author asked a 10 year old child.. what he wud like to know about sex.. and the child said.. “Everything” and thats what the author did.. gave all the pertaining information so that a small kid can u\s.. and I believe that made me more confident when I actually got information passed through laterally through my peers. I could get more information out and make sense..

    Absolutely Winnie the Poohi! I wish more of us see this so clearly!

    And then when I was 14, our friends group actually got such a book from the library and we would read it all together.. 🙂

    Like

  31. Information reaches children earlier than we expect. But when they are young, they might just be curious, like how they are about everything else. The teens is the age when they actually become vulnerable. Even then, they can handle it if they have been brought up in a disciplined manner. But yes, they might value their own judgement on such issues and I think schools and parents need to educate the positive and negative points of such things clearly in order to aid them to take the right decisions.

    Destination Infinity

    Like

  32. Very well written, though I am not a parent, not even married (blame my parents for that), I can understand how difficult it must be for you to handle all those innocent questions. You did a great job there. I am so gonna bug u once my kids turn 11 🙂

    Aww Arshat, Welcome and please do 🙂 But sex education begins much before eleven, when you start teaching them about the difference between good touch and bad touch, and their right to say NO to being picked up and even bullied or scolded by any adult who pleases.

    Like

  33. which reminds me i need to start teaching Cubby about good touch and bad touch soon enough! thanks!

    my parents didnt tell me anything! whatever i learnt was off internet and books. thankfully the rest of the upbringing was sensible and kept my hormones in control! :p

    but i hope to a better job at least in this respect with Cubby!

    cheers!

    Like

  34. Great Post IHM. Sex education is very important.Recently in Kerala the Church and Muslim clergy was up in arms against Govt’s new curricula for sex education,and was supported by the Opposition.
    There is a lot of hypocrisy in Eastern Societies about sex. What the Westerners do openly we do secretly.
    When I was taking classes for docs on HIV/AIDS emphasizing safe sex [instead of abstinence] some docs protested saying we should highlight Indian values of chastity instead of the western way of ‘encouraging’ sex. Then I had to reply that since we had a Sanskrit drama [Mrichakatika] written with a nagar vadhu [‘sex worker’ ]as heroine few hundred years before the birth of Christ, better not to criticize the Western culture in this aspect.

    We use religion and culture as an excuse to ban or control… most of us are convinced that somehow sex education will harm our kids! I have mentioned your post on HIV and incest here … 😦

    Like

  35. Hi, this is my first visit here and I must say it’s a nice read!

    Anyway, kudos to you for providing your kid with sex-ed. I do wish that it was more common in schools in India as I think I would have preferred to learn it that way rather than via friends or the telly. We did have some form of sex-ed when I was in my second year of college but by then, most of us knew bits and pieces anyway.

    And I agree that sex-ed in no way makes kids ‘liberal’. Isn’t it just better for them to be aware rather than experimenting without knowing anything about safe sex?

    Welcome Psych Babbler and Thank You :))
    I agree. In fact it has been seen that kids who are aware are anyway less likely to experiment.

    Like

  36. Hey! I don’t believe I’ve visited your blog before. Now I didn’t learn anything from my mum. All she told me about was periods and all girls get it.

    Everything I learnt about sex is through school where you are taught about the basics (phycial and emotional changes, and how babies are made) at age 11/12 (7th standard); then contraception, peer pressure on having sex, the media, STIs etc at age 13/14 (9th standard); then about all forms of centraceptions, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) domestic violence, rapes, where you can go if anything like that happens to you, etc at age 15/16 (11th standard).

    But I guess it’s different in school in india and different in the UK. I believe the subject of sex, rape, domestic violence is more taboo/hush hush where as in the west it is not.

    So it’s good to heard indian parents are out there educating their children about sex and making them feel comfortable enough to know that you are out there for them and they can talk to you about anything.
    Thanks Badz, you are fortunate. In India most kids learn from friends, porn sites and magazines, so in a way they don’t really learn anything in a way that would be of any real help to them!

    Like

    • Yes. I guess I was lucky to get such an eduaction. And I understand what you are saying. I mean a lot of children even here still learn from porn, the media, etc. and they also come under a stereotype on how thing (their bodies) should look and how sex should be which leads to depression and loosing confidence in one self just by visiting a porn site.

      And I’ve heard/learnt a lot of children get scared why what they have seen because it is not always pleasent on some sites. So being able to confide/learn from parents/teachers is better than the media and porn.

      Yes Badz, you are right!

      Like

  37. loved this post IHM ..fabulous..loved Smitha’s post too! and all thanks to badz who gave me the links to both 🙂

    you are an awesome mom!!
    this was just perfect!!
    would you believe mom and dad had the exact same talk with us? and the ‘good touch and bad touch were explained so clearly that we never forgot…

    also remember a few incidents when our questions were handled so gently by ma and dad and we never felt guilty about asking any question ever…

    absolutely with you on all the points specially on ‘girl.. institutions should have female teachers’ one…

    I feel very strongly about this Indyeah. And I have also heard of mild, disguised harassment where the girl is not sure if she is misunderstanding or maybe he is just testing to see her reaction (He needs some testing on him, – of flying-kicks) My kids know that it is better to be considered RUDE than to be considered WEAK. For all our narrow minded talk of honor, we are careless about our children’s safety. The Patan case should have become an example but has not.

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  38. Your’re an exceptionally good mother. Mine said “look it up.” And I didn’t even know about child abuse until, at the age of eleven, I read Pinki Virani’s “Bitter Chocolate.” I was eleven, remember, and I became really paranoid for a couple of weeks until I asked my father about it. He sat me down and told me that I had nothing to fear and if anything like that happened, I should tell him immediatly. But those two weeks were really scary.

    I stumbled upon the “facts of life” in the crude manner most boys do: crude caveman style “artworks” in the school crapper depicting copulating sitck figures (the “artist” had drawn them with big smiley faces, so they must have been having a really good time), elaborated upon by a grinning school prefect.

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  39. Kudose 2 U…U correctly said it.Now a days kids are so fast.Unlike olden days they have got nice exposure to unnecessary stuffs through internet and satellite television.We can’t blame them talking abt the ‘forbidden fruits’.Because they are so innocent and they don’t know what is wrong and what is right.It is up to parents to brought them up with values.The parents should restrict them accessing unwanted things and friendship and give them healthy information about sex or you can give them some gud books(no one can deal with this topic properly other than parents),child abuse ,values etc.Anyways sex education is must because It is curiosity that lead many innocent kids to trouble and scandals……..

    Like

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  49. Hii…. bumped into ur mail today… my kids r still in KG stage.. whenever i hear ab’t child abuse and issues as such, i’ve wondered how will i talk to them about these issues and what is the correct time to tell them etc etc… Ur article was a real great help and now i’ll build on it… Keep writing…. Kudos.. Anu.

    Me- Thank You Anu. Hope to hear from you again.

    Like

  50. For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading your posts. And I must say, that I love them. This is something everyone should read, and I mean everyone! I’ll try my best to popularize this link… Well even I’m only 21 years old and until a few years back, even I found it difficult to discuss things with my mother, who in turn always tried to be free with me. Today, I can only thank her 🙂

    Even I have grazed similar issues when I wrote on Ruchika Molestation Case- http://souravroy.com/2010/01/06/ruchika-molestation-case/

    I’ll soon write a post linking to your article, as this knowledge should reach everyone. I promise, all my readers will read this 🙂

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  55. Many of us believe that we can protect our children better by keeping them ignorant, but the only choice we really have is how they learn.
    SO TRUE 🙂

    psst… any space for one more daughter? I cud use a mother this sensible 😀

    Me – Hugs!!! Adoption complete 🙂

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  57. Hello aunty, Anubha this side.
    Firstly i have been reading your blogs, and you are such an amazing writer. I am learning so much.
    Secondly, i particularly related to this one. I have been very fortunate to have a father who advocates proper information. My first brush had been when my dad bought me this book. The title was ‘The Red Book’ for 7-14 years. I thought it must be some story book and i was in class 6th at that time. However when i read it i realized it was anything BUT a story book!! I later then discussed a bit with him to clear some doubts.Though me and my dad aren’t that frank with each other regarding sex but he made it a point to buy me related books so that i had all the requisite information. And later on i would lend them to my friends so that they too had the CORRECT information. Unlike popular perception that sex education compels one to have sex early, on the contrary one with awareness becomes more cautious.
    I hope other parents too take a cue from you and educate their children and for people from our age group when they become parents employ the same methods..:)

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  59. This is brilliant. Exactly the kind of parenting children need. Do you think parents who are shy would turn online to inform their kids?

    An online portal for sex education by health professionals like http://sexxie.in that respects their privacy at the same time reassures parents that their kids are getting accurate knowledge.

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