*Be sure to read the comments from fellow readers in the comments section down below.
So, last week over coffee and croissant, we were bonding with three of my friends. During our hearty conversations, one of the moms told us about how she’s been dealing with boyfriend issues –courtesy of her daughter.
Her daughter, let’s call her Sabrina, is 20 years old and is a campus student here in Nairobi. While she was a ‘day scholar’ in her first year, Sabrina earlier this year told her mom that the school work load had become too much, and so it would be best if she rented a small house near campus to enable her study harder and complete her assignments on time because she was wasting too much time in traffic every morning and evening.
Her mother saw the sense in this and obliged.
Aside from academics, Sabrina has an active social life too. Turns out that she recently broke up with her boyfriend of one year –a young man familiar to her mom since he comes from the same neighborhood.
Now, this lad is completely distraught about the break up. So anguished is he that last weekend, he showed up at my friend’s doorstep crying, begging, and asking her to plead his case to Sabrina. He desperately wants Sabrina to reconsider her decision to end the relationship. Imagine that.
Apparently, Sabrina broke off the relationship two weeks ago, but the lad is yet to come to terms with that. He cannot fathom life without her and is willing to do anything to have her back. He says he is ‘going mad’ without her love.
My friend’s worry is what this young man is capable of doing, because he just doesn’t seem to be dealing with the break up well. He appears to be completely distressed. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s mother has cautioned her against meeting him alone. Just in case he does something. If they must meet, then it should be in a very public place, and she must be accompanied by at least three friends.
Were they Having Sex?
But there’s something else that is deeply worrying my friend. She suspects that their relationship may have been close enough to have involved sex, but she’s not sure. In fact, she doesn’t want to think about it.
You see, Sabrina has never given her mother any reason to believe that she’s not a virgin.
She’s been a good girl, well-disciplined with a relatively ‘innocent’ look and the ‘waiting till marriage type’ and all. But the behaviour of the young lad seems to be telling her otherwise. The extent to which he is distraught about the breakup means that they were most likely sexually involved.
“Every time I think my dear daughter could possibly be having sex, I start getting a panic attack as butterflies begin running amok in my stomach,” she told us.
So we asked her if she’s ever discussed sex with Sabrina. She looked down, before responding.
“Surely, would Sabrina really be having sex? Is she aware she could get pregnant, seeing how I have struggled to educate her? Would she do that to me? Do you think she would seriously be having sex?” she asked us.
Not exactly the answer to our question, but we continued listening.
“Sabrina is an ambitious young girl who is so focused on becoming an Economist. She’ll stop at nothing to achieve her dreams. But I know very well what can happen to those dreams if she falls pregnant,” she went on.
Our Children are Sexually Active
As I listened to her, I empathized with her. We all know that many young people, including those in campus, are having sex. In fact, a lot of it; perhaps even more than their parents are. But we always tend to think that it’s other people’s’ children who are having it, and not our sweet innocent children.
But our sweet innocent children are part of the statistics. Statistics that show that 15% of women age 20-29 years had their first sexual intercourse by 15 years, 50% by age 18 and 71% by 20 years (KDHS 2014).
Many parents of today have the ‘sex’ talk with their children early enough – in their pre-teens when they are talking about menstruation, wet dreams and other bodily changes. During that talk, they give age-appropriate information about sexuality.
But what happens when your child is above 18 years? When they are a child no more but an adult? When they join college? When they are old enough to actually be having sex and may even be having it?
How does that conversation with them go? Do you ask them if they are protecting themselves? Do you ask them why they are not waiting till marriage? Do you ask them what would happen if they got pregnant? Or if their girlfriend got pregnant? Do you ask them if they have one partner at least? Do you ask them what would happen if they got an STI? What they would do if they were HIV positive?
Or is it none of your business?
Pray, how do you broach the subject with an older child, especially if you suspect they are likely to start having sex or if they are already having it?
That is the dilemma my friend is in right now. She knows it’s time to have that conversation with Sabrina, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to have it because she can’t imagine that her daughter could be sexually active.
“It will just break my heart if I know, so I would rather just not. But will that be doing Sabrina any good if I, her mother, can’t have a candid conversation with her?” she wonders.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this issue. She will read your comments too. You can share them in the comments section below. You can also follow the #FormNiGani conversation online.
Also Read: These are the Steps I’m Taking to Secure my Future: Lucy Wanjiku Njenga
Also Watch: How Kenyan Men Discuss Family Planning Matters with their Wives
I can feel what this mother is going through. Yes it is very possible Sabrina is already sexually active. I suggest she talks to the girl before it is too late and the worst has happened.
Hi Jemimah, yes, Mama Sabrina should have that conversation, no matter how difficult it may be. But it will be for the good in the long run. Thanks for sharing.
Of course Sabrina is having sex. If it was my daughter i would call her and tell her its normal have sex but tell her to use condoms to protect her from pregnancy and diseases. But just in case she gets pregnant I’ll tell her to be honest enough to tell me we shall raise the baby together if the boyfriend denies. If she wants me to buy her condoms i’ll buy for her. We are in a different world now not like our days when growing up our parents could have killed us. Mama Sabrina better talk to your girl this weekend.
I feel you Aggie, growing up those days, I don’t even think we were supposed to know what sex was, let alone practice it. Because, we woulda been ‘killed’ as you put it. But its different today.
Interesting to note that you would buy your daughter condoms if she needed them. I wonder how many parents would do that as well. But then, considering the challenges that many young people face in regard to accessing contraceptive services from the chemists or health centers (e.g being scolded about how they’re too young to be having sex, fear of meeting their parent, aunt, a neighbor at the same facility (there’s no privacy for them), to lack of money, lack of proper information etc), I guess you helping your daughter access the contraceptive services she needs would help in addressing this problem. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
At twenty years old, I would only be worried if she is not protecting herself. I better know my daughter is having safe sex than bury my head in the sand. The ideal is that she should wait until she is married. The reality is also that chances that at 20 years, she could be having sex. The choice for me as a parent is therefore to tell her hey my child, I would prefer you wait until you settle down with your husband to indulge in sex but Incase that does not happen, please indulge in safe sex. I was twenty once. I know what happens around that age.
Hi Lilian, great thoughts there. So, after you’ve had the conversation telling her about indulging in safe sex, what if she told you she was experiencing challenges in doing so, such as not having adequate information about how to effectively protect herself, or not being able to access the contraceptives she needs. What would you do?
I will tell her before marriage the man should take care of them not getting pregnant. After marriage they can decide who will plan the family. That was my policy. I never took contraceptives. There was no family I was planning before marriage.Since sex was for pleasure, he took care of that. This is a policy I will teach my daughter too.
Am 22 years and I think it’s a good concern of a mother to know whether your daughter is already having sex.
But about talking about it, unless you have created this safe atmosphere where your daughter can share her challenges, disappointments and life challenges without getting nasty reactions and tones of advice and getting a listening ear and understanding and timely advice – she will never tell you and you will never know.
Parents need to bridge the gap between them and their daughters by responding positively from when the child is young. Show them that you are capable of listening to them without judging them and shouting but by trying to understand their life and giving advice when they ask.
The truth is if you’re too harsh, always criticising and screaming, your child will grow away from you and will make decisions away from you and will look for the understanding you failed to give them elsewhere…
I could go on and on.. But I think my point is home.
Mama Sabrina’s plight is one that many mothers (and fathers too) experience. I remember my mum just telling me to be careful. I knew what she meant but i wish she could open up to me. My dad told me to focus on my studies and graduate with a degree, not a baby.
Other than the topic itself, I think the age gap also contributes to the embarrassment parents feel when discussing sex with older kids. I would suggest that mama Sabrina gets one of her younger friends/ sister/ youth pastor’s wife to have a sort of ‘girlfriend’ talk with Sabrina. (Of course this calls for prayer and wisdom).
At this age, what many young ladies is parental guidance, love and mentorship.
The girl is a grown up. If she’s having sex then her mother should be counseling her on things like responsible sexual behavior, consent etc not panicking over whether her daughter is still a virgin. Also she should be concerned that there is a distressed young man with extreme behavior and unfinished business with her daughter.
I think the mother should just braven up and talk to her daughter about being responsible while being sexually active because honestly in today’s world a 20 year old is having a lot of sex as the writer put it. The mother should talk to her about protecting herself from pregnancy so that she can complete her studies and also protect herself from diseases. ITs a difficult conversation but at the moment its the only option. Best of luck to her as I follow for my pre-teen.
It actually is more scary when you have a daughter. I think its easier to tell a boy hey, make sure you use condoms if you have a girlfriend, but what do you start telling a girl? Its very hard for a parent you can imagine. Girls have more to lose than boys because the girl will have to take a break either from school or whatever she’s doing if she gets pregnant but for a boy life just goes on even if he accepts responsibility its not like his life will be so much disrupted. But a 20 year old is an adult she should already be knowing how to protect herself anyway. Mama Sabrina jipe moyo talk to her.
Most 20 year olds are having sex, that is a fact. Actually it starts as early as 13. Talk to your kids about condoms, and your girls about contraception. They need to be in charge of their bodies. Countries such as Finland and Nerthelands have the least number of early pregnancies and STIs…they also have a very comprehensive sex education. Kids learn about sex as early as 4 years old and this helps to prevent sexual abuse.
at that age i suspect sabrina is sexually active but its good you discuss with her about it and am sure she will open up