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Heart To Heart

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Teaching “Birds & Bees”
We are convinced that children need to be educated properly about matters related to sex. When should parents sit down with their children for the “birds and bees” education?

Learning about sex should not occur in one “all or nothing” session with children. It ideally should be more of an unfolding and ongoing process, one in which the child learns over time, what is necessary for him/her to know. Questions should preferably be answered as and when they arise so that the child's natural curiosity is satisfied as he/she grows and matures. As they grow, parents can give them all useful information to help them make healthy and responsible decisions related to their sexuality. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to have a major conversation with your child each time he/she asks a question about sexuality. They may just want the answer to one question for the time being, and that is perfectly fine. Always be sure that you are answering the specific question, rather than talking in general terms.

If at all your child does not ask any questions about sex, do not just ignore the subject. At around age five, you can actively begin to introduce books that deal with sexuality on a developmentally appropriate level. Parents often have difficulty finding the right words/vocabulary, but there are a number of good books to help.

Adjusting to new family
I am a working woman and have been brought up to be independent. I got married few months ago and am finding it difficult to adjust to my new family. They are a little too orthodox for my tastes and expect me to be the same. They don’t like that I attend office parties or wear jeans and western clothes to work, even though the clothes are not indecent. They don’t even like that I don’t give them my salary and that I apply lipstick. I have talked about this to my husband, but he pushes me to compromise because he doesn’t want any frictions at home.

A lot would depend on the kind of honest communication that you have had with your husband before marriage, regarding values and lifestyles. If he was aware of your career lifestyle, your grooming, and your keeping an independent savings account, and had agreed to all of it, then simply reminding him of the same would suffice. However, if unfortunately all this was not discussed, then it is time to sit down and amicably discuss how both of you independently feel about all the above, and co-create a new set of values and lifestyle choices which is comfortable for both. Co-creating a life together does not always mean giving up independence. See it as ‘building up’ a relationship rather than ‘giving up’ something. There could be some flexible areas in the issues mentioned above for both of you, and a keen desire to co-create a mutually nurturing, meaningful and fulfilling relationship, would help you find a win-win scenario in all issues. Once both of you are united and on the same co-created team, communication of your joint decisions to his family would become simpler.

Accidental exposure to sex
While me any my wife were performing intercourse in our bedroom, suddenly our child (6yrs.) entered the room and saw us in that state. I wish to know from you that what are we supposed to do in such situation?

To prevent something like this from happening, we recommend you to lock your bedroom door every time you are going to engage in any type of love play. But if such a situation occurs, it would be most appropriate first to ask the child to leave the room gently yet firmly. Then, when you get yourselves decent and presentable, you could go out and have a talk with the child. You could explain that what the two of you were doing was loving each other sexually - a time of pleasure for a loving married couple. But it is private, so it made you uncomfortable.

Allow the child to talk about his/her feelings and ask any questions he/she might have. If this type of accidental exposure is handled with care and openness, damage is not likely to result.

When you are not accepted by in-laws
My marriage with my husband was against the wishes of his family. For the first one year, I wasn’t allowed to enter my mother-in-law’s house and used to stand below the building while my husband visited my in-laws. Then due to my husband’s persuasions, I was finally allowed. But even today, I am not able to take the way my mother-in-law treats me. Whenever we visit her, she talks to me only when she has to complain about either my father-in-law or my husband. But what hurts me most, is she does not care about me and competes with me. Whatever I do, is not good enough. If my husband praises my cooking or anything I did, she chastises him. She always finds fault with everything I do and makes me feel guilty for being a housewife. She passes indirect remarks about how I am a burden on my husband. And she does all this behind my husband’s back, because he stands up to her if she says anything to me in front of me. It really hurts me. I don’t like to go to their place but my husband feels bad if I don’t. What should I do?

Your husband seems to be caught between trying hard to be the ‘good son’ and the ‘supportive husband’, and is placing an unrealistic demand on himself and as a result even on you, to create the mythical feeling of ‘one big happy family’. We are sure this demand is also taking a toll on him as his loyalties are stretched. You say that your husband stands up to your mother-in-law whenever she says anything hurtful to you. Moreover, the circumstances of your marriage are enough evidence to prove that the relationship between you and your in-laws cannot be an affectionate one, and at best can only be one in which you meet them on formal occasions and maintain a minimum amicable contact, with as few verbal exchanges as possible from your side. This fact needs to be clearly and constructively communicated to your husband, that while you are willing to have a minimum amicable contact with them, which is being sensitive to him, it is equally essential that he, as well as you, be sensitive to yourself and not subject yourself to avoidable hurt. The fact that he has made a decision to marry you and still stands up for you, demonstrates that a reasonable talk with him will show him the impossibility of the unreasonable demand he is placing on himself, you and his family to give him the ‘picture perfect family’. You of course need to understand that your mother-in-law has her own insecurity issues for which she obviously has very little resources to deal with, and you are a convenient place to vent. If you can find it in your heart to understand her insecurities, feel happy for the support of your husband, and keep minimum amicable contact with her, you can make peace with this situation.

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Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle, M.D. (Bom)
Consulting Sex Therapist & Counsellor
Dr. (Mrs.) Minnu R. Bhonsle, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychotherapist & Counsellor
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