The virtues of giving kids non-judgemental advice

Redi Direko

Redi Direko

The worst insult an adult could mete out on a teenage girl back in the day was to suggest that you go to "prevent". My adult friends have yet not recovered from this advice from their mothers.

Upon noticing the budding breasts, the onset of periods and minor, harmless crushes on boys, mommies and aunts in the family and community would advise that it is time to take a contraceptive.

You see, inherent in the advice is an accusation that the young woman in question is sexually active.

At that age, there is nothing as injurious to your dignity as a suggestion that "o robala le bashimane" - you are sleeping with boys.

My mother, a staunch Catholic, would fervently argue that adults who told young girls to take a contraceptive were overtly encouraging them to sleep around. Her relentless advice was abstinence until marriage.

That has not been my choice and that is not what I will preach to my children, were I to have any.

Giving pragmatic and non-judgmental advice is crucial if we are to mould young, impressionable minds and raise a generation of level-headed adults.

I would tell my children that they won't regret waiting for sex. I would seek to persuade them that sex is for people who can take responsibility and that they should be able to look themselves and their partner in the eye the next morning.

I would say it is more rewarding to get naked with a person who is just as interested in your mind and soul than in your body, a person who will still turn up tomorrow, for however long the universe intends.

Just this week, it was reported that a 23-year-old woman will face charges for abandoning her children.

She left her infant in the care of her two-year-old child and went jolling with her boyfriend.

I bet many can't resist the temptation to condemn and berate her. However, she is merely displaying behaviour that is typical of someone her age.

Yet, she is not just a 23-year-old but a mother who obviously hasn't yet awoken to the gravity of what this entails. Under these circumstances, she is guaranteed to raise another generation of neglected and adrift children.

I am not suggesting that every young parent neglects his or her children. For some, being a parent at a young age propels them to look to the future and find the best essence of their humanity.

But the reality is that there are way too many parents who don't possess the emotional capital for parenting.

I am grateful to the mommies and aunts who made it their business to educate us. Whether you were told to abstain, 'prevent' or lectured in any way, be grateful that somebody bothered about your well-being.

I don't know whether the 23-year-old has a mentor, but I do know that it is our problem. We have a responsibility to shape and mould young minds.

There are perhaps less intrusive and accusatory ways of doing so, but do so, we must. Let our children fail because they choose to, not because we haven't created time to share valuablelessons with them.