There are a number of influences that shape the socialization of a child. It is reasonable that the actions individuals take and the consequences of those actions are grounded on rational, logical decisions adopted and evaluated by choice. Notably, forces eliminated from the immediate scenario of decision making, impacts on life. The process of socialization is never without the hidden pull of social influences that deprive individuals of self-control (Greca, 1998). Socialization agents include mass media, school, peers, public opinion, religion, spirituality and volunteer groups (Hellar, 2010). There is a significant variation of the impacts brought forth by socialization forces among individuals. In addition, the magnitude of the impacts of the various socialization forces on an individual depends on one’s social class position and life circumstances. Sexual play and exploration assume a natural role in sexual and childhood development. Further, it helps individuals to learn and understand the cultural and social rules that determine sexual behavior.
The family is the initial and earliest educator and agent in the socialization ladder. Many parents are not free to discuss the topics focusing on sexuality with their children (Hellar, 2010). Similarly, my parents were not any different. Interestingly, I heard of sexual behavior outside our family. My mother disliked questions regarding sexuality especially when I was below the age of 12 years. Sometimes, I could surprise my parents with the questions of sexuality. My father kept off from any discussions on sexuality. This increased social distance between the parents and me. In our family, the topic of sexuality was a preserve of the parents.
My parents hated the sexuality topic. Being a girl, I was bombarded with all sorts of the negative description of boys. The communication I got from parents focused on safety issues. Often, issues of pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and abstinence were at the core of parental guidance when I was a teen. Also, sexual difficulties and problems got a better share of the discussion with my parents. According to my parents, pregnancy was supposed to be avoided by all means. At first; I could sense the insincerity that surrounding the whole topic. For instance, nobody mentioned of contraceptives. In any case, contraceptives were a taboo. The use of condoms and any other related discussion was embarrassing. Parents monitored my relations to the extent of choosing my friends for me.
The innocence with which I asked questions regarding sexuality would beg for attention. My elder brothers and sisters were very significant in my childhood sexual development .often, my siblings discussed secretively the issues around the topic of sexuality and they made me enjoy the topic. Unlike my parents, they were free to talk of their boyfriends and girlfriends. However, they kept confidential, in-depth discussions. They were cunning and that helped them to find time out of the house and attend to their boyfriends. Perhaps, how to avoid the strict monitoring of my parents was the most important skill I obtained from them.
The most important agent of my socialization process especially during my adolescent years was peer group. It was convenient to discuss sexuality with peers because of the permissive nature evident in peer groups. Through discussions and storytelling experiences with my peers, I obtained the information regarding dating norms, sex and birth control. In the peer group, I was nervous and felt ashamed when depth discussions on sexual behavior could be discussed. My friends were fond of talking about their experiences with boys and dating took a lion’s share of the discussions. Sometimes I could feel embarrassed and keep off the group. The members of the peer group employed jokes, gossip and personal experiences to elaborate on sexual behaviors. The more I listened to the dating experiences, the more confident I got. My fears about the sexual experiences and the entire sexual development faded progressively. The peers encouraged me and glorified their sexual experiences. Gradually, my fears diminished and I got nostalgic. The peers made me brave and I innocently engaged in my very first sexual activity with a cousin to one of my friends. Needless to say, my action was involuntary.
The media is essential in shaping the behavior of adolescents. There are many programs in the media that cover the topic of sexuality and promote sexual behavior. As an adolescent; I used to watch programs that mainly focused on youthful experiences and movies. The programs were rich in the socialization information for adolescents. For example, movies portrayed information on how one can best enjoy sex, spend time with a loved one and avoid the strict monitoring of parents. The kissing, hugging and foreplay scenarios in movies attracted my attention and interest towards the whole issue of sexuality and sexual behaviors. In some movies, kissing and hugging were described and portrayed in outstanding ways that made me develop nostalgic feelings. Of course, at times there were some horrible episodes that covered the spread sexually transmitted diseases. However, such episodes were avoided by all means. I did not like discussing horrible experiences; nobody among my friends did either. The television programs that I used to watch coved sexual behaviors, language and actions evident among unmarried individuals. The intensive and repeated coverage of sex matters, love relationships, hugging and romantic kissing drew my attention and changed my perceptions regarding sexual intercourse.
In conclusion, there are many agents of child socialization. The events leading to socialization by the different sources varies in their timing and magnitude. It does not help to demystify issues of sexuality among children. Therefore, information on sexuality ought to be disseminated among teenagers in the most elaborate and timely manner.
Greca, A. M., & Lopez, N. (1998). Social Anxiety Among Adolescents: Linkages with Peer Relations and Friendships. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. doi:10.1023/A:1022684520514
Heller, J. R., & Johnson, H. L. (2010). What Are Parents Really Saying When They Talk With Their Children About Sexuality? American Journal of Sexuality Education. doi:10.1080/15546128.2010.491061