Sunday, December 30, 2012

As single father, how do I discuss sexuality with teenage daughter?

 

By PHILIP KITOTO

Dear Kitoto,

Thank you for your weekly column. I am a single father of three beautiful girls. We live in Mombasa. The girls are generally well behaved, but I find myself increasingly getting worried about the oldest.

She just turned 19. I enrolled her in a college in June and she started spending a lot of time with friends — both boys and girls — at shopping malls after college. She says they are her class mates.

Well, as much as she has not particularly done anything wrong, I fear that she just might out of peer pressure, given her age.

What would be the best way of guiding a girl this age so that she does not go wrong? I am not comfortable discussing sex with her, and I fear that it might just raise her curiosity.

-Anxious father  

Hi

From the onset, congratulations are in order for raising a fine girl to college level.

Now, if I may shock you; your girl already knows about sex and sexuality more than you think she does. Sadly, this education has come from sources other than you. I would have preferred that this education come from you. Remember that if we bring up children in the way they should go, they will not depart from such a way.

Children learn from many sources, including peers, school, media (television, videos, radio, movies, magazines, social media, and Internet), parents, and spiritual mentors.

I am afraid that your fear to teach is giving all these other sources the sole responsibility to shape the future of your child.

At 19, your daughter is not too young to be taught about sexuality. She needs to hear from you as the parent. You must invest in this. There are also many relevant books out there that you can buy and give her to read.

Your daughter will gain more positively from your teaching on sexuality as her father than if she listened to many other voices out there. You are the man she trusts.

There are several issues that lead to the failure of parents to discuss sexuality with their teenage children. First is culture. Some cultures consider it improper for fathers to talk about sexuality with their girls and mothers to boys. I think such teachings are a joint responsibility.

Second is ignorance. This has to do with lack of awareness concerning our part in the education and influence over a child’s life.

Third is fear. We fear the unknown. But fear does not tell us what will become of our children if we abscond our God-given duty.

Her actions make me feel cheated, betrayed, suicidal

***********

Dear Kitoto,

I am 33 and I work in South Africa. I am presently in Kenya for my vacation. I have been dating a young woman aged 29. She works in Molo and has been there for almost a year now. She has an 11-year-old son, whom I treat as my own.

I proposed to her before I left the country and out of much love, I went ahead and introduced her to my parents. When I came back recently, I discovered that she was in touch with her ex-boyfriend.

We discussed the matter and she promised to stop calling him. However, I found love messages from the same person on her phone. I also found out that she was doing Internet dating.

Yet whenever she calls me when I am away, she asks for help to get another job. She also asks for money, which I send. I am in love with her, but her actions make me feel cheated, betrayed, and suicidal. I have never cheated on her. I feel wasted by this woman. What can I do?

— Lincoln

Hi

Many marriages fail to experience the promised bliss because of lack of commitment to the principles that guarantee faithfulness in a relationship.

The principles include:

1) Being the best of friends from the start and never losing it. The value you place on the friendship will determine the level of sacrifice you will be willing to make for each other.

2) Learning how to fuel what you started. Romance cannot run on autopilot.

3) Not keeping secrets because when we do, they become a recipe for disaster. The lack of trust in marriage is the beginning of suspicion, where we are unable to share fears, failures, difficulties, and struggles. With time, we will find someone else to share these with.

4) Learning to accommodate each other. You can, for example, accommodate each other’s dreams, failures, struggles, opinions, and adversities. We are all different in the way we respond to issues. Therefore, it is important to develop an empathetic heart and environment where there is true caring.

Finally, there is a need to listen to each other from the heart. Sometimes all our spouse needs is someone to listen to and not to judge them. Listening is a great asset to friends. I am not sure whether, as a couple, the two of you put in any effort to cultivate these principles?

Since I do not have the details of the relationship from your girlfriend’s perspective, I am relying only on the information you have given. However, your story is typical of many others that we have dealt with in this column.

When a person discovers infidelity or deception by a loved one, it creates a lot of uncertainty and emotional anguish.

Spouses cheat due to many reasons. One of them is problems in the relationship. They include fading passion, a feeling of loneliness, finding someone else who is more attractive because they treat them better or appreciate them more. The list is endless.

The second explanation for cheating looks at human nature. Why is being faithful to one spouse difficult? The reasoning here is, “If I can’t be satisfied here, why not get it elsewhere?” This reasoning is, of course, selfish and does not commit to addressing the reasons that brought about the cheating in the first place.

From your narration, I sense selfishness on the part of your girlfriend. I do not see any remorse in her apologies. Remorse must be followed by the avoidance of the actions that caused the pain.

Being open and forthright in your communication with her about your feelings is the only way to confront this attitude. Succumbing to suicidal thoughts will only serve you negatively. Life is bigger that this relationship.

I believe that, with focus, reflection, and prayer, there is someone else out there who will offer you unconditional love and faithfulness. The best way forward is for you to reflect on the kind of woman you want, and evaluate the ones you meet through that lens.

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