African Parent’s view on child: My child is a straight A, science-math-business, student who has never had sex, never heard of sex, and does not even look at the opposite sex. He/She loves the Lord/Allah and will never think of even kissing!!!!
My friend asked me “What do you wish you were told about boys while growing up?” I am usually quick in responding to questions pertaining to social life, but this question had me digging deep for a response. After minutes of repeating the question in my head I finally realized that I wish someone told me EVERYTHING about boys. Growing up in a strict society like Nigeria where parents believe all of their children are virgins and know nothing about the opposite sex, there was no chance of me ever finding out the complications that come with boys.
Most ethnic parents (non-white) often shun the much needed discussion about relating with the opposite sex. This is how parents expect children to learn about the opposite sex:
- You are born: You can shower with boys and girls because you are innocent.
- You attend elementary school: During this time parents warn you that members of the opposite sex are like siblings. If you look at them, you will get pregnant.
- You attend secondary school: During this time parents start telling different genders different stories. For girls: If a boy touches you, you will DIE! For boys: Just be careful not to impregnate anybody.
- You attend college: For girls: Face your studies and husband will come later! For boys: Please don’t impregnate anybody.
- After college the boys and girls are them supposed to magically have found the beloved spouse to marry.
Ethnic parents, to me, are just not realistic when it comes to discussing sex and everything that comes with it. The only sex discussion I have had with my mom was her telling me “Morenike, get your degree then you can do “anything” you want.” That was it! She did not say much but she sure meant a lot of things with that random phrase. I am a whole 21 year old and my mother is under the impression that I know nothing. She changes the channel when a kissing scene comes up in a movie!
I am not saying parents should start talking to their children about the opposite sex at a tender age, but at least by secondary school they should have said something! The fact that our parents pretend that children aren’t indulging in sexual behavior will only encourage younger children to partake. In secondary school, I would hear 11 year olds talk about how they were “fingered” in the science building by a 13 year old boy who claims he loves her and bought her a “donut to show it’s real”. Or I would hear that a 13 year old is having sex with a 16 year old because he bought her minutes on her cell phone. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear these kids is “I didn’t even know what fingering meant at 11!!” The rate of growing up in kids today is increasing every day. With each passing day children are trying to become adults faster and with no one guiding them, how are they ever going to figure out what sex is supposed to mean?
Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if your parents just said to you on your 13th birthday: “Honey, we know you talk to boys/girls. Let me know if you want advice and I won’t kill you.” Those two sentences would make a world of difference. As prideful as I am in the African culture, I believe there are a lot of things we can learn from the western culture. Western parents are open about dating with their children. I am not saying we should start buying condoms and birth control pills for children, but we should stop acting like more and more children aren’t engaging in sex at a younger age. Parents need to stop that nonsense of never talking about sex. They just give birth to children, send them to school, and marry them off without ever discussing the essentials.
If parents were more open about discussing sex with their children, maybe they would even be able to offer advice that would help their children avoid dating mistakes. When you turn 25 (for women) and 30 (for men), you are magically supposed to have found your soulmate, wifey, hubby etc. But the problem is no one ever guided you or taught you where to find one or what to look for.
It is ridiculous that as a 20 something year old, I can’t get decent advice from my parents or aunts or uncles on dating because I should be “studying” or “focusing on my studies”. (As if I will marry my studies one day!). In a nutshell if you are a young 20 something African trying to date, you’re expected to get all your advice from TV, the bible, and your peers. Good luck to all of us!