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Of birds, bees and parents

india Updated: Feb 26, 2009 01:06 IST
Neha Bhayana
Neha Bhayana
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Gone are the days when parents changed channels when sexually explicit scenes were shown or turned red-faced at the mere mention of the three-letter word.

Generation Y’s parents are accepting that youngsters are sexually active these days. And, many are making the effort to have the birds-and-bees talk.

Lawyer Aban Nanavaty (46) is one of them. She had a candid talk about sex with her elder daughter Sarosh (20) when she was in Class 8 and now she’s started talking to her younger one, Sanaya (13).

“Children watch everything on television anyway. Many scenes must be raising questions in their minds and if their curiosity is not satiated by friends, they will start putting two and two together. I would rather they get reliable information from me,” she said.

Nanavaty and many other parents also feel that greater understanding of sexuality makes children more responsible rather than encouraging them to have sex.

Even parents who are hesitant to talk about sex with their children are trying innovative ways to make their children aware.

Take Roopa Kanodia for instance. The homemaker got books about adolescence for her 13-year-old and sex education for her 16-year-old. “I wish I could have spoken to them directly but I felt awkward,” she said.

Gita Chadha and a group of her friends arranged for a psychologist to talk to their daughters when they were 11 years old.

“A lot of mothers felt that the girls would feel more open to talk to an outsider. We also felt that as the girls also discussed these things among themselves, it would be better to talk them as a group,” she said.

Sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari said he had noticed the change in parents’ attitude.

“A Muslim father once came to me with his daughter, who was wearing a burkha. He had noticed that she was attracted to women only. He was very understanding and accepted this but was worried about the extended family’s reaction,” he said.

Parents may have become more “chilled out” but most of them ideally want their children to wait till marriage for sex. And all of them feel the age of consent should be 18 — it is currently 16 in India.

“At sixteen, children are not emotionally, physically and mentally mature. The legal age for sex should be at least 18,” said Chadha.