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September 25, 2018

You can’t pray away sexuality

I went out with my girlfriends on Saturday and we started talking about teenagers and sex. One friend told us how a mother on the Facebook group ‘Kilimani Mums’ recently shared that her 12-year-old daughter is having sex.

The mother is understandably concerned and her course of action involves a lot of prayer and seemingly, not much else. The friend who was telling me this was tickled by the mother’s naiveté but also horrified. Seriously? Prayer? And nothing else?

I woke up the next day still thinking about this poor 12-year-old girl. Do not get me wrong, I know that prayer works in very powerful ways, but I also know that we are God’s mouth pieces, hands and feet on the ground.

I also believe that for Christians, parenting is a calling and a partnership that you undertake with God, so yes I believe in prayer but I also advocate doing things in the material world.

Talking about sex is embarrassing. Even as adults, we have an easier time giggling about it with close friends over wine than we do talking to the people we are having the actual sex with.

It raises all manner of feelings – shame, inadequacy, fear of failure and to disappoint, anxiety and many others. Conversations about sex necessitate a level of vulnerability that does not come easily to many of us. They demand courage and an ‘I can get through this’ attitude.

Talking to your child about sex raises all those feelings and the huge fear that they will do the wrong thing and you will both have to deal with the consequences for a very long time – STIs, pregnancy, deflated self-esteem and self-worth etc.

No wonder aunties and uncles are called to this task. Parents, you cannot abscond on this and frankly, you cannot pray the sexuality away. A 12-year-old girl who wants to have sex is doing exactly what nature intended. ‘Horniness’ is biology at play and you cannot pray that desire away.

If you are from one of those close-knit families, and there is an aunt or uncle who shares your values and can have these conversations with your child, that is fantastic; but you spend more time with your child than he or she does so you will still have to participate at some point.

You will not have all the answers and that is ok. I think explaining to your kids where your own values come from gives them insights into who you are as a person and demonstrates how they too can develop their own values.

A friend told her 13-year-old son that she is not ok with porn because some of it is facilitated by human trafficking and she is not comfortable watching modern day slavery at play. Allowing children the space to disagree with you will also give you insights into who they are.

Teenagers need prayers; yes, but they also need vocabulary on how to say no to peers in a powerful manner. They also need to be reminded, amid all the ‘just say no’ that it is ok to figure it out slowly and a time will come when they will ‘say yes’ and that sex will be beautiful, then.

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