Growing up in a Haitian household you quickly learn that there are many topics that are taboo. Ones you simply don't talk about. For an example, if you're a young girl and you want to have a boyfriend or talk about sex. Kudos if you've even attempted to bring it up, because from as early as I could remember it is something that's preached to you that's simply out of the question. You will go to school, then go to college, graduate college and at that time you may consider dating. Or even then you may be told once you graduate college, you need to be settled into your career and established before dating. You may get a few conversations here and there about dating, but sex; forget about it!
I used to wonder what reality are they living in? What made it more difficult for me to accept was the fact that I have a twin brother who didn't have to follow the same rules. I remember him having a girlfriend as early as kindergarten and in every stage of our lives since. Him dating was always cute, encouraged, talked about freely without repercussions. Now let me open my mouth and mention anything about a boy, all hell would break loose, followed by a spanking, and extra lockdown restrictions.
Dating became something I hid. And like most of my female friends and family members, they did the same. We all got good at hiding and living secret lives. I think God I didn't make crazier mistakes that would have changed my life, but it doesn't change the fact that some were made. I often wonder how many of these mistakes could have been prevented if simply I had an outlet or a parent to talk to about them.
I think about this all the time now as a parent. The reality of things is that we're in 2022 and a greater percentage of youth will have experienced sex or some version of it before marriage, some even before leaving highschool. I find it awkward when I speak to some of my family or friends and hear them say, "well my kid won't be doing this until...". This is always a trigger for me, and I always want to respond with, well at what age did you do it and why? Call it crazy but I don't think it's fair to hold your kid to a standard that you yourself couldn't maintain, without fully analyzing why you couldn't uphold that standard. Or be naïve to the fact that you found a way to do the things when your parents said no, and now you magically believe your kid won’t do the same.
I believe now that I would have probably felt more inclined to wait if my mother actually talked to me about it and had conversations with me about the dangers and consequences vs constantly being told I simply couldn't do it until graduating college because they said so.
I find myself taking so much time now explaining myself when I ask my daughter not to do something, even if it's small. Not because I owe her an explanation, but I realize that she is more likely to oblige if she truly understands the reason behind the no. There were so many times I wanted the reason behind the no and never got it. I didn't have the foresight to see the things my parents did. From my judgement the reward outweighed the risk, so I did it. The influences and pressure to do so were strong, so I did it. I just made sure they didn't know I was doing it. Sometimes they were right. Sometimes they were wrong, but the danger is that I had to figure out alone how to deal with the consequences to all the mistakes.
Sex and dating will definitely not be taboo in my household. I’d rather be the one my daughter can talk to about sex and dating than to let the World be her teacher. As an adult now, I've come to realize that the world has a way of teaching our kids the things we fail to teach them for us. What you make taboo in your home or are afraid to talk to your kids about, will simply be introduced to them by someone else? The outside world has no incentive to give them the facts, or point them in the right direction, so be their teacher.