A lot of questions arise when parents think about sex education for their children.
What do you tell them and what do you leave out? Is there an ideal age? In addition, the DBE is trying to implement CSE and make sex education a part of the core curriculum. I think it is crucial we start having this conversation with our kids, if we haven’t already done so.
I am all for children learning certain sex-related topics at school. However, I feel very strongly that the foundation, the building blocks and ongoing sex education must come from home. This is simply my opinion. So even though I was caught off-guard by my boys’ line of questioning on a particular Sunday afternoon I am glad that it has opened up a direct line of communication around this topic in my home.
Recently my eldest casually asked me: “Mum, what is sperm actually?”
And before I could respond, his younger brother comes running towards us saying: “Yes mum, what is sperm? He said I don’t have any.”
This is the moment where I channel my inner Elsa and freeze everyone while I ransack my brain’s filing system to find the most appropriate yet logical, scientifically correct, child-appropriate way of answering this question.
“Well boys, sperm is something your body makes, it forms part of the reproductive system.”
Then my oldest replies: “Oh like is NS. We learnt about reproduction, MRS NERG, remember mum?”
“Is it in your penis?” asks the younger one.
“No, it’s in your balls,” his brother answers very politely.
At this point, I wanted to flee, but instead, I had to sit down and say: “Okay boys, so you know how we plant seeds and then a tree or flower grows? Well, that’s what sperm is, it is the human form of seeds and when it connects with an egg it makes a baby.”
“But I thought babies come from mummies’ tummies.”
“Yes they do, that’s where the eggs are, so once the sperm fertilises the egg it creates a baby.”
And here it comes: “So how does the sperm get to the egg?”
“Yes, if sperm is in your balls, how does it get into the mum’s tummy?”
My eldest bursts into laughter and says: “When they have sex of course.”
At this point, Alex decides he’s heard enough and decided to leave us be and returns to his TV game, which is way more interesting than this topic. This leaves Zach and I to have a one-on-one about the reproductive system of humans and I tell him what he needs to know.
I speak openly to my children about life, I don’t feel like it is someone else’s responsibility to teach them anything. I expect an open and honest relationship with them and that starts now.
I also feel it is my responsibility to educate him about respect towards women and respect for himself, and being Christian, he has a moral responsibility towards himself to always try and make the right choice. I want my kids to know who they are and be proud of that, I want them to love themselves and make decisions because they have all the information the possibly can. I’m not one to sugar coat things or add fairies and bows to a story to make them understand.
We speak about things openly and honestly and allow them to express themselves – even when this is met with a raised eyebrow. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and taking offence is a choice, I learnt this early on in my journey as a parent.
And that is how babies are made.
“But that’s not how you and dad made us. Is it?” asks Alex from the lounge.
“I thought you didn’t want to be part of this conversation?”
“I didn’t. I’m just asking if that’s how you and dad made us? So, is it?”
I pause for a moment because no matter how forward-thinking you are in your parenting journey, it is never easy or comfortable admitting to your children that you and your significant other engage in anything of a sexual nature.
With a raised eyebrow and a cheeky grin, my older son grabs his brother and they run off to play in their room leaving a rather embarrassed, red-faced mum to fold her laundry on a regular Sunday night.