Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

CUTS AND BRUISES


I was bathing Rhys last evening when I noticed he had had some scratch on his nose. So this morning, while he was playing around in the yard, I asked my wife what had happened.  Her answer got me thinking. 
"George, he is a boy and he is enjoying walking around. He falls a number times in a day, so it is OK to have a few bruises on him."
"Yes, but it could be fatal." I replied
 "Sure" She replied calmly. "But if he is going to learn how to walk and run around, then bruises will come with it....unless you don't want him to learn how to walk." 
 
I thought deep about and it made sense to me. It also had a wide application  in so many areas of our lives. Nothing ventured nothing gained. 

This is something we should learn in our love lives. Love is natural to humans and comes with its own bruises once we start on that journey. The path to having the best of it is not as we see in Telenovelas. We learn to love.... we cultivate it. We put in effort and hardwork. 

While at it, there will be disappointments, and not every step will lead to where we intended to go. We will miscalculate and we will misjudge. All of these will leave some cuts and bruises. Some of these cuts and bruises will be visible, others will not. Some will be short term and others long term. However, the surest way not to be hurt is to not make a move on love. The surest way to stay without bruises is to stay where you are and never venture into the terrain of love. 
 
However, being without love and not being loved is probably the greatest drought ever to subject the soul to. Love will cost you, love will hurt you, love will bruise you, love will scar you....but in the end it makes us better. 

Be bold and love again.... and again.
 
PG Sebastian
Copyrights 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

SEX, TEENAGE AND THE TINGLING TUMMY BUTTERFLIES - 2

[Click Here if you missed the first part.]

Parental Responsibility

There is the need for parents to start inculcating into their teenagers these stop-and-think-first thought challenging considerations in their choices that are sexually oriented.

It is every parent’s responsibility to let their teenagers know the quantum of the leap they would be taking in the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical aspects of their lives once they get into sex before they are ready (and very much mature) to handle those changes that comes with such a leap. Let them know that it could be so disastrous to the point of creating a stained image of sex which can affect their future relationships. And it can also be a leap into a realm of boundless sexual exploits making any person appear worthless in their own eyes and that of others.

Parents can help their children internalise these considerations anytime they are faced with sexual choices:

  • Do I really think am ready to have sex.
  • Am I totally (emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and physically) ready to do it
  • Am I ready to sacrifice my ultimate pride to another person who is not bound to me in any committing way?
  • How am I going to feel about myself and my partner?
  • If it is going to result in hurt feelings, then do I really want to go through this in order to come out hurt and disappointed?
  • If is going to be a feeling of pleasure, how long will such pleasure last? Sexual pleasures are for a fleeting moment. Teenage pregnancy is a life time pain!
  • So what are my reasons for having sex apart from the fact that others are doing it, someone says we should do it or I feel for it?
  • How will my parents feel within themselves and about me to hear I am having sex?
  • What happens to me if this one act results in a pregnancy or an STD?
  • Can I openly talk about having had sex or I will have to lie about it?
  • What does your religious organisation say on pre-marital sex?

Some guidelines to parental intervention in teenage sex education
As a parent with teenagers, do not defer the question of sex and its discussions to some distant future. Your children start snooping behind the doors of sex before you think they are ready to do that. Now is that time. Keep the door open and take the lead in the discussion. It will not be easy for your child to start. Thank God if they start though they averagely won’t. You don’t have to push them either. Do not tease them. Just find the appropriate time and talk about it.
It could be around an experience that excites the child involved. It could be in the company of their best friends or siblings. In this case it is always good for the parents to ask open questions. Look for clues from the answers and continue from there. The party in this conversation who suddenly appear tensed or detached may have something to share. Read body language. If there is nothing to conceal you will see from the genuine annoyance or curiosity that comes to everyone who is suddenly introduced to a subject they did not think could be discussed by the one trying to discuss it.
If there is something you think is being concealed, create an impression about your open-mindedness on sexual issues and then end it there. From there, look out for the party that seemed open in these interactions and find out why the other party was tensed. They might talk.
If it was just you and the child involved be tactical about it. Open up the topic some later time and see the reaction. If you feel there is something to talk about, find someone to do it once you know that child won’t talk to you. If you push till you can go no further, any other person who comes in won’t really get far.
Whatever conclusion you came to, will be the right time to talk about sex.
Unless there are some revelations that demand urgent address, start from the macro or generalised issues bothering sex and with time drag it to the micro level that sees the child involved in the middle of the subject. Parents must be very patronising and revealing, sharing their own sexual experiences, accurate enough to sound honest and edited enough to omit all graphics. This is the only way trust could be built and the channel opened.
Once the platform is set, parents should identify which of them is closer to the child involved so they take it up. Usually, it works better in the opposite direction: mum and son – dad and daughter – mapping. The only problem with this mapping is that fathers usually have an unwarranted attachment to their daughters to the point that such revelations from their daughters can hurt and affect the quality of the relationship which my turn into an apathetic or over-possessiveness.
For a father to succeed in this line he should for once be a counsellor than a father to his daughter. Mothers are usually good in this area. The reason probably due to the fact that in every society there is some form of manhood and respect-of-view ascribed to every male both by females and male counterparts.
Mum to daughter mapping usually fail much as dad to son because of the rivaling superior-subordinate relationship that usually exist. Not so many mothers will take it kindly to know their daughters have some form of sexual knowledge that equals or rivals theirs. They are always wont to ascribe sexual connotations to every action of the child. But there are always the exceptions where parents may open-minded enough to accept it regardless of which parent learns it from which child.
But the most important thing is that the parent who is so sure to get a particular child to talk sex, should take it up and know that they have called for it so must be ready to take it in good ear and help the child involved rather than destroying them with what they would not have ordinarily divulge.
If you know your child is in a relationship, look for the softer one of them and talk to. But remember before you can talk to them, they must see you as a friend and not an information downloader.
Here again mothers are always equipped to talk to the boyfriends of their daughters or even the girl friends of their sons. It is a common knowledge that mothers are averagely receptive to their children’s partners than fathers. Dads tend to be a bit relaxed with their sons’ girlfriends but with a limit because of the temptation that such involvement can bring. It is not an easy thing for most men to stand their young daughters’ boyfriends.
However, when a fathers gain the trust of their children and their partners, they tend to be very good with handling all issues that come up – a lot better than women. This also stems from the fact that a father who over comes the superior-subordinate barrier tend to speak his mind with little restraint and are very practical and proactive in that relationship. Mothers are always careful and modest.

Parents should help their children develop a positive image about themselves and healthy image about their sexuality and sexual lives to that point where making the wise choices about sex will not be a difficult thing. It should be the kind of development in the child where decision to abstain from having sex is seen as strength than weakness, prideful thing than shameful thing.
Give your children reasons why they should take pride in their chastity. It is surprising to know that even men with insatiable sexual appetite who hop from bed to bed want to eventually settle with ladies who never knew any man. 
Tell them of the guilt feeling; if you are a Christian family let Bible principles help you. Tell them about the health implications and the social demands. 

What challenges teenagers into having sex
As a parent, if you are equipped with reasons why teenagers have sex, it will help you give them proper counselling. A few of such reasons are given which can be of immense help to parents.
Most teenagers give in to sex because they think they are in love and sex of course is the ultimate proof of that feeling. Sex again comes in to secure that kind of love as some see it. For most ladies today, barring age and marital status, sex is being used as a tool of winning and keeping men... which unfortunately work for a while but fail in due course! There is also the possibility that teenagers who are having sex to secure love are not receiving that love in their various homes.
A lot more teenagers are talking about sex so much so that the logical conclusion is to experience it. Teenagers today are having sex just to experiment with it; so they can also talk about it. To be able to experiment with sex and talk about it is almost all the time a prerequisite to fully belonging to a clique of friends who are sexually active.
Again, giving in to sex at that critical moment when the teen is confronted with it becomes the easier option as opposed to saying no.
Having sex these days among our teens has also become a cool thing to do. Not doing it is an aberration and a seemingly deviant behaviour. This is even very high amongst boys who openly tease their friends who are perceived virgins.
We also have teenagers who are having sex because they have not been told there was something wrong with it! For these teenagers promiscuity is around them so they just flow with it. It could be their community or their various homes of orientation.
There is the Media to blame for sexualising most of its contents just to increase viewership. This is something that traps the vulnerable teen en masse 
But at the bottom line of all these is the teenager’s hormonal transformation that they go through during that period. If  not properly guided into handling it well, this can turn into an unsettling feeling that can end them up in seeking refuge in sexual adventures.
If parents can boldly take their children by the hand and walk the right path of proper sexual education where the child’s personal well being – emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical – is the focus, there will be a lot more success chalked than what we have today.
A positive sex education should always be dominated by morality and abstinence with some space given to preventives. Adolescents have to and can control themselves if the society decides to help them. Controlling themselves now is not depravation; it is a good seed they are sowing into their future. If, as teenagers, they are able to control themselves, the propensity to go on with it as they grow up becomes higher. If their sexual inclination is towards preventives, they grow up emboldened in that behaviour thereby increasing the risk of promiscuity and marital infidelity. 

PG Sebastian
 2006 All Rights Reserved

SEX, TEENAGE AND THE TINGLING TUMMY BUTTERFLIES - 1

Sex! It is now one of the most popular topics among teens. Not that the idea is a new invention, it has always been with us, however, the popularity it has gained in the last three decades leaves much for concern.  With this same level of excitement about sex among our teens, our society will be left in moral tatters within the next 15 years!

And why sex? Why not any other thing but sex? Indeed there are other things plaguing our teens these days that are equally threatening like substance abuse and addiction, “419” (Advance Fee Fraud) prostitution and other social vices. However, sex has got its own place in view of its peculiarity.  Sex, unlike drug addiction, is not easily manifested on the person of the one engaged in it no matter how abusive the individual get with it, holding other factors constant: ‘Other factors’ including STDs, unwanted pregnancies, sexual dysfunctions, among others. Unfortunately, sex cannot be discussed without these ‘other factors’.

Sex, to many teenagers, is an enigma and a mystery they want demystified. It is a pleasurable experience worth repeating. And the more they get it the more they crave for it. This creates a swaying influence on the person engaged in it creating pleasurable images that keep shape-shifting until it assumes a more tangible form becoming an over-powering force.

Today’s challenges with adolescent education on sex stem from two source: Our Parents and our current sex educational system.

Parental Challenges on Sex Education

Many parents today wish they could open up a dialogue with their teenagers on this all important aspect of our being, but are unable to regardless of whether it is a pre-emptive step or a foreknowledge  that their children are already having sex. The taboo status ascribed to the open discussion of sex in our culture is one major obstacle inhibiting many parents in doing what they know they have to do.

For some parents, the issue is so broad and touches on very delicate aspects of our being that it becomes difficult to cleanly deal with it.  For these parents, once the Pandora box is opened they are not so sure whether they can handle what will come out of it. So in the end, they feel it is better closed than opened.

Some of the common questions that comes up with having a talk on sex with teenagers are: 
How do I start? 
Where do I start? 
Where do I stop? 
What do I say and what do I omit? 

If it is a comprehensive issue, how do I start and stop mid way? What if the child has questions that will threaten the safety of the other information I am keeping form him or her.

The fear of ending up introducing the whole concept to the teen, thereby creating a curiosity, has also kept some parents from taking the starting step in the first place. And the challenge here is that as long as the child is exposed to the topic and left midway, he or she would want to find out in theory what was omitted, and if it is not satisfactory, try it in practice.

Some parents are faced with religious barriers and perception. My son or daughter is a prayer warrior why waste time talking sex with him or her. Why not spend time teaching them about God and other profitable things and leave sex and other temptations for God to handle.

But whatever the barrier maybe, parents had better wake up to the realisation that sex is major force rocking the world of teens and they should find ways of dealing with it in away that will not rather create an unnecessary curiosity. Sex will come up eventually whether to make parents feel sorry because they know their children are having sex at early age or to haunt them out of their sleep because their children have contracted STDs or are very much pregnant!


Challenges of our current mode of sex education

Is sex education just about exposing teens to the complexities of human reproduction - it physiology and anatomy; is it just about demystification of the act of sex or the exposition of the realities of STDs?

I find interesting the kind of sex education we have in our society these days. It is sex education literally defined and it is taught in its straight jacket; it is purely non-religious and morally dry with the only illumination appearing in its anatomy and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and unwanted pregnancies. The moral aspect of sex education has virtually been left in the dark making it look as though it is a secondary concern which, unfortunately, is not so. 

It is however worthy of note that any education on sex which is not extended into the domain of morality is bound to create a higher desire and curiosity making it inimical in itself and morality-eating blight without any form of restraint. With our current form of sex education the only thing that restrains teenagers from active sexual engagements is their fear of contraction STDs or getting pregnant, a fear which is fast losing its hold with the proliferation of many forms of preventive medications and actions.

Our current sex education neglects addressing important issues like chastity, self control, channelling of sexual energies into profitable ventures, sexual dysfunctions.

The above and more should feature more in our sex education, and go on to expose to the teenagers the moral and health implications of chastity and/or sexual promiscuity. They should have a comparative education which looks objectively at both sides of the sex scale thereby helping them to chart out a better course for their sex life. 

The argument for preaching the expository and preventive aspect of sex education is a very simple one, ‘what if they find themselves doing it anyway?’ This argument, unfortunately, reflects a very lame impression of how society perceives the adolescent! It simply says the adolescent is incapable of self control. But that is not a valid argument!

Besides, that argument means there could be the possibility that the adolescent might get into sex; but there is the other possibility that they might just not do it! If so, why then spend all the resources on just one possibility in a fatalistic manner, whereas there is the other possibility that the teenager also has the capability to abstain and indeed are trying to abstain and therefore must be encouraged to do so.

 The question we should be asking ourselves today is whether this kind of sex education has reduced sex related problems among teenagers or has been on the ascendancy? Let us look back in time where sex education was properly done touching on the important issues and make a comparative analysis. If the argument is on civilization and modernisation then the question is are we having a positive civilization or we are reverting into primitiveness. No sustainable development or civilisation leaves the beneficiaries worse off than better off.

I heard a joke on TV. One guy was telling his class how he had gone to the seminary to train as a catholic priest. In one of their studies he was being taught about women, sex and the pleasures of the flesh. And he said the more the lessons progressed the more he realised what he would be missing if he became a priest.  So he left the seminary before the second lesson which was to train them on morality and how to control their sexual desires. 

Funny as this joke may seem, it portrays the situation we find ourselves in today. We only expose the adolescent to sex in its entirety and place the moral issues in the background as a secondary issue. As long as sex education continue to remain in this path, we will keep spending money on social welfare- if there is any in this country, teenage pregnancy, street children and all their attendant problems because we only tell the adolescent what they will be missing if they abstain without telling them what they would be gaining by abstaining.

Currently we are telling the teenager that we will empower you to go to the drugstore and buy condoms and if by chance it burst or you even forgot to buy it in the first place, then you would be bold to walk into that drugstore and buy the morning after pill! When the opportunity comes and you have to do it, just do it.

If our current form of sex education is the best, why is teenage pregnancy and STD contraction on the increase?  I will tell you.
Teenagers are told of the preventives and what sex is, but are not taught the right questions to ask before they choose to have sex. A lot of teenagers literally meet the sexual demand on the way and hop in before they realised they have not asked the proper questions or have not taken the proper precaution!

How many teenagers in our society can walk to a drug store to buy a condom? If they can’t, then they acknowledge what they are doing is not acceptable. And once they have that perception, they will hide and do it; fearfully, quickly and carelessly. They will not ask questions from counsellors, Medical personnel, or even their parents, questions without which they will most likely get themselves into troubles. But once these teenagers acknowledge that pre-marital sex is not good for them, a little help will put them on the part of abstinence.

Increasing drug abuse and alcoholism among teenagers today is also increasing their sexual drive thereby accelerating the spate of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

Again, little knowledge in the ever increasing and confusing types of birth control medications and other preventives and their usage is also making education on their uses a difficult and complicating task. One story is, however, always consistent and the method is the same- abstinence!

To Be Continued

#Parenting #Teenage
PG Sebastian 
2006 - All Rights Reserved. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

SPIES, GUARDS AND FOO FIGHTERS

We say some people are dexterous at turning anthills into towering mountains. To a good extent, this may be true, however, it is also true that how we respond to such people can be the actual catalyst that leads them on that path. 

We have a tendency to personalize, in a very spatial way, issues we are required to open up to our partners. I get people using expressions like, 'he is interrogating me', or, 'she is sounding distrustful'. Much as we may have personal spaces we feel the need to protect, sometimes we read too much meanings into our spouses' approach to us. It is a state of mind. If you fear a dog will bite you, even when it yawns you feel agitated. When a dog you know is harmless growls, you pay no heed. It is perception. Sometime we assume our partners are out to get us therefore get unnecessarily defensive and agitated at their questions and inquiries. 

We should learn to trust that they are not out to get us. I doubt if all your partner's questions are meant to pin you down. If so, what happened? How did they get to this point? If that is how they have always been, why did you end up with them? Why spend your life with an interrogator on a journey meant to be fun?   

Be open so your partner can trust you without much effort. Be responsive and forthcoming with information on issues they seek clarifications on. No one backs down when a question or an inquiry is avoided or evaded.  They may not press much but in their hearts and minds are battles that will leave them worn out, irritable and unnecessarily suspicious.

To you, it is their own cup of tea; well a happy and secure partner is a happy you. It takes a few minutes to indulge your partner to make them feel at ease, whereas it's can take months to clear up suspicion once it takes roots. 

Do not assume their questions and enquiries are stupid, petty and ridiculous;  do not let them feel they are not smart by being curious. That is a polished up insult. When you find yourself in their shoes you will realise questions and inquiries can be emotionally rather than logically generated. 

When you indulge your partner, you set a good precedence for the home/relationship which becomes a moral code they are expected to live by. 

Communication has broken down in many homes because after trying unsuccessfully for a period, one partner has decided it is not worth it trying to find out anything...even if it is the minutest of information. And they come to this decision when they always get discouraging feedback like silence, avoidance, cheeky response or yes-and-no answers. 

Many married couples and those in dedicated relationships have found companionship in friends and other people of the opposite sex who fill in the roles of their partners as far as companionship and basic attention is concerned. Much as this is wrong, this reality is a natural consequence of their marital and love experiences. 

For a lot of people this is no big deal until they realize their spouses are completely tuned off. They may not be tuned off in the end only in the area of communication, but in other areas such as fidelity, affection, trust and respect. 

PG Sebastian 
2014 All Rights Reserved