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Talking Frankly to Children on Sensitive Topics

Talking to children about sensitive topics

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“Aw!! This is so embarrassing!” Darling daughter exclaims.

“What is?” I quiz.

Although almost anything could embarrass a teen. Parents comments, teacher’s scolding’s or friends’ gaffes.

“Oh it is this chapter we are studying in Bio…”

Aha. The light dawns. There is only one chapter in Biology that embarrasses like nothing on earth. But I decide to play the innocent.

“What chapter?”

“Aw this Reproduction system …..! Gosh I sure feel funny.

Instantly I was transported decades back to my class 10 lesson on human reproduction. Our biology teacher was a rather youngish but very stern Muslim gentleman.

So with a dead pan face he droned on about the male genital organs, the female genital organs and how reproduction takes place. It was all so cut and dried despite the few tittering from the back benches.

And yes I was embarrassed as I stared down at my desk top.

Finally after an eternity the lesson came to an end. “So that is it. Any questions?” Sir asked.

From the back benches a fellow rose up. “I have a question Sir.”

Lord!! My heart sank.

He was one of the gunda elements of the class. Rich man’s spoiled child who was forever up to some mischief or other.

There was a long, if I may say, pregnant pause in the class room. I think now that Mr. Naqvi was thinking of evading the query. Finally he seemed to have come to a decision.

“Well Pankaj, what is it?” he said a bit testily.

“Sir consider this scenario. I go for a swim in the swimming pool.” He paused dramatically. “Naked.” He added knowingly.


“After that another girl comes and swims in the same swimming pool. Naked”

Sound of titters filter through.

“Now my question is sir, with the said girl get pregnant.”

Mr. Naqvi cleared his throat. “My dear Pankaj. She will most certainly not.”

“Oh sir , are you sure. There might be a thin chance.”

“No.” Mr. Naqvi said with emphasis, “and you don’t go swimming naked in the pool in anticipation.”

At that there were a few nervous guffaws from around the class.

I related the incident to my daughter. “So were there any wisecracks and funny questions?”

”No nothing of the sort. Everybody knows all that. But you see at least we girls know about menstruation and all…”

“Yes that is there. So what embarrassed you?”


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Sia Mitra is a freelance writer and blogger with more than a decade of experience. She has written for most major publications like Femina, Prevention, Complete Well-being, Child, Mother & Baby, Parent & Child, Womens Era, etc.

5 thoughts on “Talking Frankly to Children on Sensitive Topics

  1. Shweta Chooramani

    Sia, your post took me down the memory lane. I can’t forget how the chapter on reproductive system was taught in supposedly the poshest school in town, DPS – Girls in one class, boys in another. Separate classes for same chapter. Not to mention the hordes of cheap laughter which we have to face when all of sat for next class together. 9th standard was probably my toughest class. Today’s problem is not education it is how to save innocence in children and not letting them mature or access information before its meant to be.


  2. Rima Desai

    It is wonderful Sia that you are projecting a common conversation between a parent and a daughter through this article. It is indeed a sensitive topic and needs the right kind of attention and information.

    Personally I feel that one the big reasons for discomfort is also because the atmosphere at home could be much more conservative and restricted in related communication. It would matter if the child has a brother and what are the dynamics of that relationship. It is sad that parents themselves are shy and uneasy about discussing these and so they leave it for the school to INTRODUCE these topics, which is a major flaw in our culture!

  3. Kritika Srinivasan

    Yes Sia, it is really important to speak to children frankly and openly on anything they ask us, in an age-appropriate manner of course. And more so, when the current generation of kids are so well-informed and are anyway going to find out things faster than ever before. As Shweta rightly points out, the problem today is not one of information but of protecting the children’s innocence. But even we parents wants children who are mature, smart and on par with their peers. And these qualities will come with a little loss of ‘child-like’-ness. We just need to find the right balance, just like in every other aspect of bringing up kids!

  4. Sia

    Dash it, it is a very embarrassing topic. I was immensely embarrassed decades ago when my mom “educated” me. It was trifle squeamish when I talk to my daughter. They ask such questions…..


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