Recently, an animated short film called “In a Heartbeat” went viral on the internet. The short features a little boy who is struggling to come to terms with his feelings about another little boy. The short does this by exemplifying the juxtaposition between the boy’s reluctance and the boy’s hearts openness. It is a beautifully crafted short that showcases the reality of growing up gay. This short, however, has caused a bit of controversy, especially with parents.
Many parents believed that the short was introducing the topic of sexuality at way too young of an age and that children should not be exposed to such content. After hearing this argument and many others, I became interested with this ideology that children should not be exposed to certain topics like sexuality and gender fluidity and drugs because those are “adult topics”. From this ideology, I posed the question to myself: how young is too young to talk about sex? And not just sex for that matter, but any topic deemed to be too inappropriate for children.
To be honest, I believe that children should not be harshly guarded off from these “adult topics”. I believe this because children are not as naïve as many parents portray them to be. Children are learning about things at a way younger age than ever before. Things that I learned about in high school, my younger cousins are learning about in middle school and in elementary school. Social media and the internet have exposed children to many topics and ideas that before was simply not possible. Along with that, parents are now giving their children electronic devices at younger and younger ages and thus are not fully in control of everything that their child is consuming from those specific devices.
With that said, as a parent you cannot be so naïve to think that your 13 year old has never heard about sex before. Thus, as a parent if you do recognize that your child is being exposed to many different topics on a day to day basis, whether that be through the internet or their friends on the playground, you should also recognize your role in this situation.
Knowledge is power and the best tool that you can provide your child so that they can go about their life being more educated and informed on the real world around them. Raising your child in a bubble does not help them or preserve their innocence in any way. By trying to shield your child from things that are very real to the human experience, you are not allowing them to grow up as informed citizens. Children should know about sex and what consent is and what birth control is because if you don’t educate them, who will? Do you really want the other kids on the playground telling your child what these things are? Or would you rather your child learn about these very intimate and serious topics from you in the way that your household wants them to understand these things.
At this point, I recognize that the fear exists among many parents that by exposing your child to such topics, your child will be influenced in a negative way or somehow change from how they were supposed to be. This fear is completely invalid because with that logic, history should not be taught to children either since many parts of history are incredibly negative and not a good influence on the youth. Your child will not suddenly want to have sex just because you tell them about it because you, as the parent, are not telling them to spark interest; you are telling them to inform them what it is about and that message would be very clear in your delivery.
To conclude, my point in this article is to simply bring attention to the idea that knowledge is power and educating your child is the best thing you can do as a parent. In this day and age, being ignorant is not an excuse that holds much weight to it. Thus, prevent your child from going down that path of not knowing by being the person who introduces these topics to them and steers them between right and wrong. It is better that they understand what things like sex are from you then from their peers or from videos on the internet.