RainbowMondays Raising a teenager (Letter to my peers)
The issue of teenage pregnancy is often tackled in a form of an attack to an already pregnant girl, in our communities. Being Black, from a rural community, not a single day have I ever talked to an adult about s*x when I was a teen. It was never spoken about, ever. I remember when I was still a child, and a s*x scene would pop up on TV, and we would drown in shame, and not even know what to do with ourselves. It’s almost like the parents are in denial of the fact that their children might be sexually active, or maybe that’s just the way that were also brought up. We’ll never really know, all we know though is that the absence of such talks can expose a child to back street lectures.
When children are reaching the teenage stage, they develop a desire to explore their bodies and the world around them. They want to know why they are developing breasts, why their voices are getting deeper, why they are growing pubic hair- if parents don’t orientate their children throughout that phase, the street will do the honors. Ivankosi was a curious teenager, like any other. Her mother was the “strict” parent that wanted her children to follow rules and live by the book. She wanted to keep order in her house, after her husband’s passing. In her journey of playing supermom, she pays no attention to her teenage girls and their developments.
Ivankosi met an older man who sweeps her off her feet. Like any teenager, she was excited with the fact that a dignified and successful man like Xabiso would fall for a girl like her. To her, it felt like a fairytale. She was prepared to do everything in her power to keep that man. He was exactly what she thought she needed in her life- someone to fill her father’s space in her heart. She was using Xabiso’s presence in her life to fill voids in her heart. She went all the way, to please that man by letting him feast on her developing body. When her mother came to realize that Ivankosi was sexually active, she started being the typical Xhosa mother and became all dramatic about it. Instead of sitting the child down and giving her s*x education, she decided to push the child right into the world’s arms, for it to chew her and spit her out like yesterday’s chewing gum.
She thought she was in love- believe me, there is nothing as dangerous as a teenager who believes he/she is in love. She didn’t care what her mother thought or said, and even did to stop her from seeing that man, her mind was set on it and there was nothing anyone could do about it. She explored that world on her own, so she didn’t need her mother to change all her discoveries and make them look and sound invalid. The only time she needed her mother was when she was still confused, not knowing what to do and how to do it. She was now confident with what she knew and wouldn’t let her mother mess that up for her. She was willing to go against her word, and do as she pleased. She wasn’t thinking straight. When she fell pregnant, her world literally stopped, and she didn’t know which corner to turn. Her mother was the last person she thought of speaking to, about what she as going through, to an extent that the same man who got her pregnant was the same man that she turned to, when she needed to talk. That’s what the world does, mess you up and present a solution that will drown you more in trouble. Xabiso brought up the abortion plan, making it sound like it was a solution for Ivankosi, while in actual fact, it was a solution for his unfaithful self. Because Ivankosi was naïve, she listened and believed what that man said to her.
A little girl’s life got ruined before it even properly began, all because she was vulnerable in the eyes of the world and the world used that to its advantage. Being a strict parent makes one proud, because his child gets home before sunset and only leaves the house when going to school or church. He strongly believes that his child is an angel, and will live to set an example to other children. Not even once do they stop to orientate their children about puberty and all the relevant subjects. They are in denial of the fact that their children are no longer Barbie Doll’s fans, but are now becoming huge Nicki Minaj fans. They force their children to remain young, by denying them private space with their children outside the house. They want to monitor their every move and live their lives for them.
They continue buying them cartoon-character bedding, hoping they would remember that they are still very young to be doing adult stuff. None of that would ever work, because children don’t easily change their minds when they have taken a decision, especially a life changing decision.
It is not our fault as parents that our children are growing up, but it is our responsibility to engage them on the developments that are taking place in their lives. We need to be there to offer explanations and answer questions. It is also very important to make those kind of conversations casual, so that it gets easier for both parties to be comfortable and honest. We need to build trust, in order for them to trust us enough to come to us when they need advices. We should be their friends, and get them comfortable enough. Raising a child that you don’t even know is very sad, no parent should ever settle for that. Let’s save our children from the world, by being their friends and talking to them about everything..