KARACHI: Puberty is a confusing time in any child’s life. As our bodies begin to transition into adulthood, we are made to come to terms with our sexual realities. Popular culture is a place many turn to for answers, but an increasingly popular alternative is pornographic content that is readily available on the internet.
Porn often portrays sex in problematic ways: from objectifying women and not focusing on their pleasure, to using problematic storytelling tropes that are far from reality. Sex is a human act – it’s natural, pleasurable and should be pain free, fun and safe for everyone. In order to ensure your child has a healthy relationship with sex you need to make them comfortable enough to talk about it. This protects them in a multitude of ways as it also allows them to identify when someone is sexually harming or exploiting them.
If you’re nervous about broaching the topic with your teen, here are a few things you can try:
Talk to them about their sexual health
When children hit puberty, they often have a multitude of questions about their changing anatomy. Using that as an opportunity to talk to them in greater detail about their reproductive systems and their sexual organs is really important. Not only does it equip them with information essential for self care, it also gives them an opening to talk about other questions they may have regarding their bodies and their sexuality.
Use popular culture as a reference
Watch movies and read books with your children and use characters and the problems they face as an opening to address questions regarding sex. Talking in hypotheticals often makes children feel more comfortable about broaching certain topics.
Pick up social issues from the news
Sexual abuse is a pervasive problem that is rampant in our society. Use media coverage about the issue as an opportunity to talk to your children about their sexual safety to help them identify behaviours of sexual exploitation and to help them protect themselves.
Put yourself in their shoes
Remind yourself of some of the confusions and questions you had when you hit puberty – try to be accessible and approachable without talking down to them or making them feel uncomfortable. Establish a safe space for conversation in which they don’t feel judged when they ask questions they may be embarrassed of.