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SEX or SEXUALITY? Ganiu Bamgbose, PhD

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SEX or SEXUALITY? 
Ganiu Bamgbose, PhD

While it may be awkward for parents to discuss sex with their children (although not unthinkable if necessary), it is absolutely in place to discuss sexuality. Sex involves sexual intercourse while sexuality is sexual orientation. Sexuality is a person’s identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are typically attracted. Many an African parent considers discussions surrounding sexuality a taboo or vulgar activity, eventually leaving their children at the mercy of those who will teach them sexuality and complement it with sex. A discussion on what a young lady finds attractive in the opposite sex should be something she can freely discuss with any or both of her parents. This, of course, enables them to guide her on how to handle such urgent yet often unimportant emotional state which fades away with time.

The reality of modern times has completely rendered the old methods of sexual counselling unuseful, and made parenting more taxing. It was easy to curtail sexual tendencies in children raised until late 90’s since the only way to indulge in sexual acts was to have a physical contact. In the reality of the millennium and the advent of smart phones, all the “imaginables” and the “unimaginables” are feasible even in virtual interaction. So, locking a child up only amounts to a period of rehearsal and the performance will follow at the slightest chance to leave the home. The strategies of “you’ll get pregnant if a man touches you” and “do not let a man climb you” worked before the era of “www.”. The present age requires heart-to-heart talk between children and their parents. It is the age to let children know that it is not unnatural or evil to have infatuations and crushes on opposite sex, but to enlighten them on the inherent dangers and possible destructions and distractions that come with not curtailing such liking. Some young girls do not even ever get to know anything about menstruation and menstrual cycle from their parents until they experience it. In the words of a good mentor of mine, Mr Praise Fowowe, it is the age to let young people know that SEX IS SWEET BUT IT IS WORTH WAITING FOR. It is the age to have rapport with children as parents, and not an age for children to disappear when daddy honks. Very importantly, it is the age when children must not only listen but be listened to. In my personal observation, I have realised that young ladies don’t report predators because they are usually persons they dare not tell their parents that they abused them. Predators and paedophiles are usually daddies’ favourite brothers who are mostly devilish uncles. It is, therefore, important that children are listened to and observed for attitudinal changes. If you will not resume with them when they go to higher institutions or have them come from your house when they gain admission, the decision to prevent them from having or making friends might not be good enough as young people eventually make up for all of this vacuum when they get on campus. A child who has never been stopped from making friends and spending time with them will not likely be too zealous to explore the dos and don’ts of society when they leave home. It is a time not to hide the big deals but do demystify them to young ones. It is an age when the young persons know so much more than their parents can ever imagine. The 21st century young person can only be persuaded, not coerced; admonished, not deceived.

In conclusion, sexuality is an essential component of parenting. The modern reality does not warrant that any parent shy away from discussing sexuality with their children, both male and female. Remember TABULARASA. If you fail to write on the empty slate of your child’s heart, the society will design their hearts for you with crayons.

Ganiu Bamgbose is a lecturer, columnist and social commentator and he lectures in Lagos State University.

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