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Is 13 too young to talk to your child about sex?

OPINION: In our Afakasi Scoop Episode 6 podcast titled ‘Wait WHAT’ we discussed with our special guests what the right age was to start talking to our children about sex.  Up until this podcast I had always believed that having limited exposure to the world of sex and my Mum not talking to me at all about it helped me focus on my studies which got me to university - my parents dream.

by Tee    I     15 July 2020


Growing up and looking back, I had a pretty awesome childhood. I remember my Mum and Dad always outside tending to their gardens.  I remember sitting on a heap of grass clippings
with Dad pushing me in the wheelbarrow to deliver the clippings to his make-shift compost heap. My brother, Dad, and I playing cards and cracking up when finding out Dad had
cheated in cards...again!  I could talk to my parents (well, more my Dad) about
anything….except the taboo topic of SEX. 

Whenever someone kissed on the TV, even a peck, my Mum would be like “KAPUGI OU MAKA” (close your eyes) in a really loud and angry voice LOL (funny now/not back then!).
When she would tape movies on the VCR, I would watch them later and it got to the point where I knew all the words to the songs e.g. Grease 1 and 2.  It wasn't until adulthood that I watched the movies again and wondered how they had edited new scenes in there.  Then came to the realisation that when my Mum was recording the movies she would record, pause, then record again cutting out all the “intimate” scenes!  Her editing skills were makua off though, no wonder parts of the movies didn't make sense.  I guess in a way I can say I was very naive and to be honest, having relationships with the opposite sex was not a priority for me, even in high school. Could this be because of the way I was brought up or was it because I was scared my parents would find out and I didn’t want to disappoint?  I don’t know. 

Times have changed.  Technology has evolved.  Cell phones are now a common accessory and the internet is easily accessible.  Many children from intermediate level and higher have
access to social media and group chats where messages, links, and images can be exchanged at the push of a button.  I had a conversation with a friend and she told me about how there are more high schoolers now who are engaging in sex than there ever was ‘back in our day’.  Back in our day we all knew who was active and who wasn’t and that would only be about two or three.

I remember when news broke in 1996 about Vili Fualaau, a 13 year old Samoan boy who ended up having a sexual relationship with his teacher.  That was MASSIVE news because it
wasn’t everyday you heard about a 13 year old boy with a 34 year old woman.  I honestly don’t think his parents would have spoken to him about sex by the time the act happened. I wonder if Vili would have acted differently if his parents had talked to him about it?  Maybe he had talked about it with friends?  Who knows.  Maybe things could have taken a different path. 

Now I find I am second guessing my once - ‘don’t even bother trying to change my opinion’ attitude. Because sex is now at your fingertips and can be easily stumbled across, maybe 13
is a good age to talk to your children about the topic?  Many of our Island parents didn’t because they wanted us to ‘get a good education’ and they believed the opposite sex would
distract us from that goal.  I wonder if things would have been different if they had brought me up in the type of world we live in today?  Maybe we should talk to our kids at 13?  What’s the bet many of them have seen something relating to sex at some point especially in this day and age and with the apps that are now creating growing trends. Have you seen some of
those moves on TikTok?! 

My head is saying - go with the times, my daughters need to be prepared, it’s better to come from you...but then I picture my childrens faces and think - they’re too young! I don’t want to
tarnish their minds with filth!... But…. I want them to know that they can come to me for anything and can ask me anything if they aren't sure.  I want to be able to support my children however, whenever, and for whatever especially as it’s my job as a parent to help prepare them for what challenges I know life is going to throw at them.

Wish me luck!

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