Ask Valentine: Kids & Sex Part III; 12-16 Years
This is the third article in a 5 part series on Kids & Sex, you can read part one and two here. I worked with psychologist and father of 4, Pascal Mwita to answer your questions on sexual development and how to educate your children on this embarrassing topic.
The point is to create an environment that facilitates open communication and allows you as a parent to pass on your values, or as I like to call them goggles, so that your child comes to the world of sex with a perspective in place.
We have covered children from 0 to 5 years and then last week, 6 to 11 years. Here we begin with early adolescence and the main question for girls and boys – menstruation and wet dreams respectively. In the absence of proper information children can be rather alarmist [saying things like ‘I am dying’, ‘I am immoral’] so they should not be caught unaware by these two events.
Getting your period is exciting and embarrassing. Some girls hate the idea of becoming a woman while others revel in it. As adults you can set the tone by talking about the event, before it happens, as something fantastic that is to be celebrated. I suggest that you buy your daughter pads and tampons and talk about how to use them before she gets her period. When she finally does get her period, you could buy her a small gift to celebrate this feminine milestone.
Dads, this is not purely a woman’s area, you have a lot to offer. Now is the time to highlight that your daughter can become a mother and that boys will soon be interacting with her differently. This is the time to talk about the differences between men and women when it comes to sexual activity, but more on that next week.
One sensitive issue is the decision between menstrual cups, tampons and pads.
You can discuss the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of product but ultimately, let your daughter decide so that she can manage her flow the best way she knows how.
Do not forget to talk about cramping, mood swings, food cravings and other changes associated with the menstrual cycle. Young women may also find it comforting to know that it is quite normal for their periods to vary unpredictably in terms of frequency, duration, and magnitude; and over time, they will develop a fairly predictable pattern.
The first spontaneous ejaculation often happens during sleep, hence the term nocturnal emission or “wet dream”. Again this can be exciting and humiliating as boys make it mean all manner of things – ‘I am bad’, or ‘I am sick’. Boys will generally be between 12 and 16 when this event first occurs. Wet dreams are pleasurable, but waking up from them can be messy and your son will be ashamed.
It is important that boys be informed about wet dreams and how to handle them when they occur before their first wet dream arrives. Wet dreams are just a natural part of growing up and they happen to all men at some point. Young men awakening from a wet dream can simply collect their sheets and spot clean them to avoid staining then wash the sheet.
You could teach your son to change his sheets himself. This will foster his general independence but more specifically, it will enable him to recover from the wet dream with maximum privacy.