Awkward or Empowering

Working with adults can be challenging. They are stubborn constantly because of their own views and wash away their flaws when they are being lectured.

But children are the best learners because they are already accepting change and constant change in their own lives. Teaching children about sex is an awkward topic of course but the problem is that we assume that it will be awkward. Truth is if we give the children a chance to act mature about the subject, you can have a decent and informative discussion. Because they so want to hear you. Unless there are those kids who want to laugh at every dirty part but then all you have to say is some sassy remark to make them quiet and they won’t sneer and giggle anymore.

But why is it so awkward for adults to talk about? Why is it so hard for is to have a decent conversation about this topic especially when it relates to HIV/AIDS or early marriage and/or teenage pregnancy? Why is it so hard for people to say that abstinence does not work?

It’s not that I’m trying to say its a stupid idea to teach it but to teach it only is just being slightly short of ignorance. There is a quote in the school that says, “If you think education is costly, choose ignorance. For you will see how much ignorance truly will cost you.”

I have worked in a domestic abuse office that works with women who come in from abusive relationships and we offer them opportunities to gain their confidence back and maybe decide to leave their abusers. However, we don’t tell them of one method to do this hard and incredibly stressful choice. We give them plenty of options to choose what is right for them and when it is right for them.

I also worked in an office that dealt with teenage pregnant mothers. You can’t even imagine the myths and legends they thought was true about sex. One guy can convince a girl so much and especially teenage boys. Puberty does that but our girls not knowing what exactly happens or what can be used is like expecting them to experiment and figure things out on their own. I believe in education.

Not what to teach exactly but to teach everything. Like did you know there is a female condom? Or that there is a new invention called the Diva cup that saves on the paper for pads and it can be used forever and reusable? That there are many different ways a girl can get pregnant besides the normal way? All these extremes and extra information should be learned. My overall belief in life is to learn as much as I can.

Cause knowledge empowers.

I told this to my head deputy in my school. Granted, being an adult, his views were put on the table. We began with the topic of teaching about prevention etc. and there his eyes filled with concern. The question came out like it always does.

Doesn’t giving condoms to children motivate them to experiment?

It is a honest question. But at that moment, three girls walked past his office with three small bellies and I sighed.

They are already having sex, I thought remembering the two girls who came to the clinic days ago and gave birth at the age of 15. The pain they went through with bodies too young for that ordeal. But though their bodies were weak and small, their minds were anything but.

We kept going back and forth after I said my point. He then told me a story.

Children back in the day didn’t have sex. They believed if they did that their fingernails would grow long and people would see it and there was no sex. But these are modern times.

It is the lack of awareness that makes someone believe that things were better back in the day. There is a reason why the most patients of HIV are older. Because even back in the day, it happened.

He continued,

Back in the day, people didn’t cut the trees for charcoal because they believed spirits dealt there but now they cut everything.

I had to stop him now. It was getting tiresome hearing of the good old days.

I told him straight up.

Fear does not help people. Fear of long fingernails or social stigma or spirits in woods only increases ignorance. One of the volunteers who help the environment has taught his villagers the change of climate that comes with excessive tree cutting especially lack of rains that affect their farming and crop yield. So now villagers don’t cut the trees because they know the science behind it. They choose education instead of believing in spirits to make better decisions about their environment and their standard of living.

For a moment, I realized my face was stern and I was not smiling but before he looked up and saw my face, I put on a smile.

But he did not change,

What can you do? Things were better back in the day.

Still holding on to his beliefs, I sighed not wanting to deal with this. I’m not here to convince someone who didn’t want to be convinced. I said my goodbyes and smiled wide as I left.

I walked outside to my kids screaming, “Megha!!!! Come play freezie.” It was my version of freeze tag that I named after the popular cheap Popsicles that were sold everywhere. But not today. I was distraught. The deputy will now try and control my sessions and I feared that would hurt my attempts to get close and personal with the children to allow them to come up to me and ask and divulge to me.

I don’t try to preach. I don’t. I don’t assume I know best. Nor do I expect my readers to be loyal to my advice but to you who have had the opportunity of education and even higher and graduate education will see the brilliance and strength that comes with knowledge.

It changes you. Your world opens with knowledge. You are empowered with the work you have done for your education.

A girl once told me she got pregnant because her boyfriend said that condoms make it easier for gonorrhea to be spread because of the lubrications. She was a 15 year old Caucasian girl born in the upper city of Buffalo. My eyebrows rose and I asked her how many times did it take for her to believe that crap. She just he said it once. He was a smart guy so she believed and trusted him.

I only said what I always say in that situation. “Oh honey…” Because I know what I would do for my own children.

Tell your children the truth. If they ask where kids comes from, no matter what age tell them the most truth you can until you can tell more details later. Tell them the knowledge of every resource and tool. Of all ways to prevent pregnancy. Of all ways guys and girls act during these “active” years. Even your own history and own mistakes and challenges and experiences. It’s okay to be imperfect in front of your children.

Don’t nudge it away. Teach them to love to search for knowledge. Don’t accept answers. Doubt everything so that when they are told something, they’d search for the answer themselves. But the reason you should tell them everything, no matter how awkward the topic is because they will always know they can expect the truth from you.

They will always trust you would tell them the truth and treat them as an equal. Information and communication would be easier when they know that their curiosities and questions are valued somewhere. For they will only be motivated to experiment and search elsewhere for answers, if they cannot at home.

People think children are children. They are too young. But remember, they are not a constant state of being. They are always growing. And fueling the mind with knowledge from the beginning will only build the best foundation for the mind of the adult they become.

Remember this if you find yourself saying that they are only children.

If he is too young to know, he is old enough to learn.

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