Miriam’s Musings

Parents: What’s stopping you having ‘the talk’ with your kids?

I don’t know about you readers, but when I was in school, my entire sex education consisted of a lovely nun called Sr. Martina advising any girl in the class considering ‘sitting on a boy’s lap’, to first ‘place a sheet of newspaper on it to keep you safe’. Confusing or what?

  Well-meaning and lovely though Sr. Martina was, providing sex education was not her job – that particular responsibility lay firmly with my mother and father. However, like many parents of their day, they wimped out, meaning the newspaper ‘tip’ covered it all. 

  Now while this country has what I believe to be a shameful history of sex education, both in the home and in the school curriculum, I do agree that things have progressed, but not by much. When I read that a report published by the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) revealed that ‘a fifth of Irish teenage boys do not believe it’s always necessary to gain consent before engaging in sexual activity with someone’, I knew our young people were in trouble.  

  In fact, given these findings, it’s abundantly clear to me that, when it comes to their kids, many parents are still dodging those safe sex education responsibilities; and that’s a disgrace.

  While I understand this dereliction of duty in providing knowledge regarding safe sex could be due to feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness on the part of parents, as an imperfect mother who provided age-appropriate sex education for my own girls, my response is…get over it. Don’t leave it to the teacher, just grow up, do your job and do right by your kids, kids who when specifically asked about ‘verbal consent’ only ‘58 percent of males’ and ‘67 percent of females’ said it was ‘necessary when participating in sexual acts’. 

  Come on folks, we teach our children to walk, talk and pee in the loo etc., so why does it seem so difficult for some parents (not all), to address the nitty-gritties around something as vital as sex education? Why is it difficult for us to teach our toddlers about their own body parts, and then, as they grow older and develop both mentally and physically, why can’t we incorporate compassionate, loving and appropriate conversations around safety, respect and consent? These conversations should vitally incorporate and include same-sex couples. 

  While I’m enjoying the view from my high horse, can I also add that according to shocking statistics from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s data ‘nearly 20 cases of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in children under the age of 14 have been recorded so far this year’. This tells me that 13-year-olds – I repeat – 13-year-olds – are possibly being coerced into having sex with their peers or worse, are being abused by adults. This both sickens and frightens the life out of me, because a 13-year-old child cannot possibly be in an emotional/physical state to give their consent to have sex.

  In addition, the law of this land states that an individual must be 17 years of age in order to be able to give their full consent to engage in a sexual act. 

  Have I sufficiently opened your eyes or are you still wimping out on having ‘the talk’ with your child? 

  Well, for the wusses who are reneging on their parental responsibilities, I suppose you can take solace in the fact that a sexual consent education programme (launched in second-level schools this week), will address the issue for you. Yep, to put it bluntly, the teacher will, once again, do your job!

 

Happy days are here again!

Well colour me happy, Roscommon is set to return to normal! Okay, I know this announcement comes with a warning that the epidemiological situation remains, wait for it, ‘manageable’, but it seems that happy days are here again folks! Yep, the role of NPHET is about to be ‘scaled back’, we’re on course to return to the workplace on the 20th of this month, live music at weddings is due to resume, and Communions and Confirmations are also planned to take place.

  With that in mind, crack open the emergency bottle of wine, break out the expensive Green and Black’s choccies, because all going well, our homes will no longer resemble the insides of a high-security prison wing. Neither will we feel forced to genuflect before a finger-wagging Dr. Tony Holohan reprimanding us on the 6.01 News for committing those mortal Covid sins…again!

  However, I will miss the almost carnivalesque atmosphere generated by the lovely George Lee, who as part of his ‘war on Covid’ effort, assumes his ‘tut-tut’ face, and delivers his piece to camera (PTC) in such a way you can almost taste the imminent arrival of Armageddon! Someone give that man a leading role in the Christmas panto! 

 

What women want!

I was listening to a radio station the other day (not sure which one) and the subject being discussed focused around what turned women on, as in what came top of our list when choosing a mate. Or, if we were already in a committed relationship, what was it our partners did that made us happy. 

  For singletons hoping for a ‘hook up’ it was a full head of hair, good fashion sense, confidence, maturity and a sense of humour that topped the list of ‘future partner’ must-haves. For those of us already manacled together, things like cooking a meal, giving us compliments, going on ‘fun dates’ and communication were key factors to their long-lasting happiness. 

  Now girls, while it’s clear that superficial qualities like looks and chemistry are clear indicators of compatibility, for me (if anyone cares), listening and putting things back in their right place are part of my essentials. I will not go unheard and I cannot do untidiness. 

  That being said, these days if he manages to get me the birthday/Christmas present I specifically asked for (not hinted at, I don’t do subtlety) without punching the air while displaying the thrilled sense of achievement of a bungee jumper, I’m happy…kinda!