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NAIROBI STAR Tuesday, 27 January 2009 LIFESTYLE 19


Being a parent is more than just bringing a child to this world, it is about being
a compass for that child and always pointing them in the right direction
BY WACUI MAKORI parents to make peace with your child to know that

themselves, accept their they can talk to you about
he ‘pale pale’ mistakes and appreciate anything and this helps to
radio sex talk that even though they may keep communication lines
debate continues have had a confused sexual open.”
as parents insist experience, it doesn’t make Kiiru notes that a very
that the media the act wrong, neither does important aspect of this
be muzzled to spare their it mean that their child will talk is that the parent does
children from information experience the same. “Pro- not only focus on the ‘act’
overload. tecting your child from sex of sex. “You must include
Admittedly, having ‘the is foolhardy because they the emotional aspect of it”
talk’ with your child is one will find a way of learning he says. “Let your child
of the most difficult things about it, whether or not know that sex involves car-
a parent will have to do you like it” he says. ing, concern and respon-
along the course of their Another piece of advice sibility and that it should
child’s life. he gives to parents is for only be practised within
Sitting your child down them to have ‘the talk’ this kind of a relationship.”
and having an open talk early because young chil- He further reveals that this
about sex is a nerve wrack- dren are very innocent and is an opportune time for
ing experience for most self-unaware at this time the parent to communicate
parents and most will look so teaching them about their values to the child
for the easy way out. Oth- their anatomy is easier and and even though they may
ers will either fumble and less embarrassing for the not always follow them,
mumble their way through parents. He however insists they will guide them in
it, some will buy a book on giving accurate, age knowing how to behave
and give it their children appropriate information and what to do. For your
to read and others still will to the child, “no need to pre-teens, Kiiru sug-
look the other way and fill your child’s minds with gests a talk that includes
pretend their child is not inappropriate imagery or unwanted pregnancies,
interested in sex. words that are beyond STD’s, rape, dating etc.
Yet, without a doubt, sex their ability to grasp” he “Give them practical ways
is a basic human instinct says. to protect themselves,
and a child’s curiosity The next tip for parents teach them how to say no
about it begins at a very according to Kiiru is - take and what to do if they are
young age. It is not uncom- the initiative. As he says, abused” he says.
mon to see children under “Do not sit comfortably Life is about choices
five innocently touching on your laurels assuming and parents have a choice;
themselves and obviously that since your child has either get caught up in the
deriving pleasure from the not asked, they are not foray blaming the media
act much to the shock of interested. If your child is for igniting their children’s
their blushing parents. In over five years old, look interest in sex yet do noth-
most cases, sex education for an opportunity to bring ing about it or be a parent
for these children begin up this topic because any who embraces the chang-
at that moment because normal child is curious ing world, takes a stand to
as mummy smacks their about sex and they may be equip their child in facing
hands to get them to stop afraid or ashamed to ask that world by being their
– immediately the children any questions. By you tak- trustworthy source of
begin to think that what- ing the first step, it helps information. THE BIRDS AND THE BEES: For many parents this can be the toughest talk ever
ever they were doing was

Joseph Kiiru – a coun-
selling psychologist at
Maranatha College of Pro-
fessional Counselling and We live in an increasingly complex world that Communicate your values and can lead to valuable discussions about a
Training reveals that the challenges us everyday with a wide range of As a parent, you have a wonderful opportunity wide variety of sensitive issues.
very first step for a parent disturbing issues that are difficult for children to be the first person to talk with your child
attempting to teach a child to understand and for adults to explain. It is about tough issues like drugs and violence Talk About it Again. And Again.
about sex is for them to however important to address issues like sex, before anyone else can confuse him or her Since most young children can only take in
examine their own attitude HIV/AIDS, violence, drugs and alcohol etc. with “just-the-facts” explanations that lack small bits of information at any one time,
towards sex. As he says, Here are some guidelines to aid you: the sense of values and moral principles you they won’t learn all they need to know about
“If we grow up believing want to instil. Remember: research shows that a particular topic from a single discussion.
that sex is an unnatural, Create an Open Environment children want and need moral guidance from That’s why it’s important to let a little time
dirty act, we will con- Young children want their parents to discuss their moms and dads, so don’t hesitate to make pass, then ask the child to tell you what she
sciously or unconsciously difficult subjects with them. However, our your beliefs clear. remembers about your conversation. This
pass the same message to kids will look to us for answers only if they will help you correct any misconceptions
our children. If we have feel we will be open to their questions. It’s Listen to Your Child and fill in missing facts. Also, children often
stereotyped the roles the up to us to create the kind of atmosphere in It’s important to find time to give kids our ask questions again and again over time —
different genders should which our children can ask any questions — undivided attention. Listening carefully to which can test any parent’s nerves. But such
play during sex, we teach on any subject — freely and without fear of our children builds self-esteem by letting our repetition is perfectly normal, so be prepared
the same to our children.” consequence. youngsters know that they’re important to us and tolerant.
Kiiru therefore advises