The birds, the bees, and your little one
As we watch our children grow, we want to ensure that they will learn to make rational decisions. A major part of being responsible as an adult or even a teenager, is to practice safe sex. Engaging in sex too early and not being safe enough can be attributed to them not being guided by the people closest to them. Sometimes, these lessons come when it’s already too late. There is no good reason why parents should shy away from having that discussion with their young children.
So when is the right time to start talking to my child about sex? – you might ask. At the National Family Planning Board (NFPB), we recommend starting that talk from as early as age two. Obviously at this age, toddlers would not need to know the details of sexual activity, but they will need to know about their own bodies. At this age, children need to know the right names for their body parts and should not be afraid of saying the word ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’, after all, those are the medically correct names for the body parts. Once this comfort in appreciating body parts is established, parents can add new topics for discussion as the children grow older.
By the time a child turns five, they should understand that babies are not dropped off by storks and that birds and bees do not actually mate. It is our duty as parents to dispel all myths. We cannot place all responsibility on the school system to tackle this. If we want the best for our children, we have to play an active roll in teaching them about these very important issues.
By the age of ten, a child should be knowledgeable about sex and the reproductive system. Some may think it is too early, but at this age, a child should also be aware of sexually transmitted infections, how they are transmitted and how they can be prevented. Parents should also discuss with their child the possible consequences of having sex too early and the issues that arise from adolescent pregnancy, as many young girls can begin menstruating and young boys can begin to produce sperm around this time, making it possible for girls to get pregnant. This stage in a child’s life is their most curious stage, and they need their questions answered, and answered honestly by you.
Many parents who had their children during their teenage years usually wish that their children will not go down the same road. Be upfront and honest about the struggles you endured as an adolescent parent, steering your child away from following in your footsteps. This is a reality for many Jamaicans and it creates what we call ‘the cycle of poverty’ – when an adolescent parent suffers through poverty, the child is likely to suffer the same plight, and if that child does not make it out of pervert and also has an adolescent pregnancy, the cycle continues unabated.
There are life lessons that only we can teach our children. Let us not shy away from ‘that talk’ but instead, start the discussion from early – this makes it easier in the long run and may save your child from making irresponsible sexual decisions.
Written by: Renée Gauntlett
Communications & Public Relations Officer
National Family Planning Board
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How Non-Resident Fathers Can Make A Difference In Their Child’s Life
How Non-Resident Fathers Can Make A Difference In Their Child’s Life
We all know that most Jamaican households are female-headed – the mother plays both the breadwinner and the caregiver roles for her family. Where is the father and what role does he play? Although the father may not live with the family, hardly visits or does not provide financial support, chances are they are out on the road boasting about how many children they have.
We have to admit that there are quite a number of fathers who do not live with their children but are still very good caregivers who love and support their children. Not all non-resident fathers are ‘deadbeat’.
According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the United Nations Children’s Fund (2009), a father is responsible, provides for his family, cares for his children, sets good examples, gives guidance and emotional support to his family, and nurtures and raises his children.
People often say that the most important thing in raising children is to give them lots of love, something that all parents can do, regardless of whether they are a mother or a father, and regardless of whether they live with their children or not.
There are many reasons why a father may not live with the mother and their child or children. Sometimes, it is for the best. Social scientists often emphasize the role of fathers in the family system, and how their actions affect the entire environment and context in which a child grows.
Social psychologist, Dr. Herbert Gayle, has long since explained that “manhood” and “fatherhood” in Jamaican society, is determined by how well he can provide financially for his family. However, Gayle’s study (2002) revealed that, in many cases, males enter the workforce prematurely and are thus “robbed of the chance to reach their full potential”. Therefore, many men will never be able to provide for their families as they would like to.
If a father is unable to sufficiently provide for his family, he may become detached, physically and emotionally. Sometimes, especially in the case of divorce, it is the woman who pushes the father out of their children’s lives. Some mothers believe that the presence of the father causes more harm than good as women fear that their sons may turn out to be worthless “just like yuh fadda”.
One of the most important ways a father influences that environment in which the children grow is in his interaction with his children’s mother. This is because the relationships which children observe and experience at an early age influence their own relationships later in life. If a mother constantly curses the father for not being good enough, the child might grow to resent his or her father or a young girl may grow to resent males on a whole.
Statistics show that children tend to do better when they have a good relationship with both of their parents. However, if the parents are not able or willing to live together, that is no excuse for a father’s absence in their children’s lives and women need to understand this. There are many ways that non-resident fathers can bring unique strengths to their relationships with their children.
Non-resident fathers can still make a difference for their children by:
- Providing adequate financial support – studies show children whose fathers pay child support do better in school and have fewer behavioural problems.
- Keeping in regular contact – children who feel close to their non-resident fathers tend to do better socially and in school.
- Using time with children wisely by helping with homework, setting and enforcing rules, and supervising their children – children can benefit a great deal from this kind of relationship with their father.
- Setting good examples – although being a non-resident father can affect a child’s relationship with their significant other in the future, there are many other lessons in life that a father can prepare their children for by setting the example.
The National Family Planning Board encourages all fathers, whether resident or non-resident, to take this role seriously and lead by example by being responsible, providing for his family, caring for his children, giving guidance and emotional support and nurturing his children – all that a good father should be. The Board also recommends that women consider the issues that may arise from the father’s absence. If a man is and does all the above, and is willing to be a part of his children’s lives, let him.
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MER Newsletter Vol 2
MER Newsletter Volume 2
NFPB donates Contraceptives to Victoria Jubilee and Women’s Centre
In observation of World Contraception Day on September 26, the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) donated just under half a million Jamaican dollars worth of contraceptives to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital and the Women’s Centre Foundation Jamaica’s Adolescent Clinic in Kingston.
The donations consisted of a variety of contraceptives, including the Copper-T intrauterine device (IUD), the Jadelle implant, vials of the Depo Provera injection and male condoms. The NFPB recognises the importance and convenience of Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), particularly for adolescents who have recently given birth. These contraceptives can last between three months (Depo Provera) and ten years (Copper-T).
World Contraception Day is observed globally every year on September 26. International organisations use this opportunity to highlight the various contraceptive options available to men and women with the vision that all pregnancies are planned.