The way in which your child leams about sex may color and influence his whole life. If the information he obtains is nor* mal and wholesome, and imparted in a natural manner, he will grow up far freer from morbid curiosity and from restricting fears and inhibitions than he would otherwise; and there is fax less likelihood of his getting into trouble. Every child is curi’ ous about sex, and it is now believed that his feelings and emotions go back to early infancy. At the same time, the normal child is not sexually conscious, and does not have strong local’ ized feelings in his sex’organs until he is about ten years of age. If he does, it is a case of sexual precocity. We shall deal with this presently.
The first point to be emphasized, however, is that, if the child is to receive sexual enlightenment from his parents, rather than from the false and vulgar gossip of other children, the parents themselves must be enlightened; and this means that they must be familiar with the anatomy and physiology of the male and female sex organs, and the whole process of love and reproduction. It is an appalling fact that only a small percent’ age of parents possess this knowledge so essential to them’ selves and their children; hence; the necessity of books such as this!
The child is constantly asking questions and seeking knowl’ edge, and it is only natural that he should ask questions about his sexual organs. When a little boy first discovers that this part of his anatomy is different from that of his sister, he is curi’ ous to know why, and his first impulse is to ask his parents. It is highly important that these questions should be answered frankly and naturally, no matter how young he may be. It is not necessary, of course, to enter into details as to sex, in these early replies; but it is easy to point out to him the fact tha tliere axe two types of people in the world the male and the female “Just as your father and I are different‚ and that some children are intended to grow up to be men and others will grow up to be women. Some parts of their bodies are’made a little differendy. The mother might then explain that all ani-mals are different in the same way. This will be enough for the first talk; later, more and more details can slowly be added. But the point is that the child’s questions should be answered in this way, instead of scolding him for being naughty‚ for asking them. This will only add an air of mystery, and stimulate his curiosity all the more. Further, and more important, is the fact that it will give him a sense of guilt, which may distort and affect his whole life. He should be made to feel that his sex-or-gans are just as natural and just as much a part of his body as his fingers and toes.
In order to impart this point-of-view, the parents themselves must be freed from taboos and fear-complexes about sex which they probably have themselves. The present generation of adults was brought up in a false atmosphere of guilt, when any discussion of sex matters was nervously discouraged. These early impressions are so lasting and so deep-seated that it is often next to impossible to get rid of them, and they affect one’s entire life. The first and most important step is for the parents to rid themselves of these early impressions, and regard sex as a natural, normal function, like digestion or breathing. Next, they should inform themselves regarding sex; and third, they should understand how to impart this information to their children, naturally and simply. It is hoped that this book may help them do so.
One great mistake often made by parents is to give their children false information, mislead them in some way, or fail to call the sex organs by their proper names. In this way, they would be as natural to him as mouth‚ or stomach‚, and there would be nothing more dirty about one than the other.
The child will doubtless want to know where he came from. If he is told that the stork brought him‚, this is only putting off the day until some more accurate information is given him, and he may soon discover from his playmates that you have not been telling him the truth. It would be far better to explain to him that he began life in his mother’s body, just as the egg is carried inside the hen before it is laid. All children would un-derstand this, and many of them have seen a cat or a dog with its litter of young. In this way, they would see that they started by being very small, and gradually grew and grew until they were as big as they are now. Many children have their attention drawn to their sexual organs. If your child is found flaying with himself, he should not be scolded and punished for doing so. Rather, his attention should be diverted to other interests, and later it should be ex-plained to him that these parts of his body are very delicate, and that they should not be handled, any more than any other part of his body. Bathing the sex organs in cool water will im-mediately offset any local stimulation. As your child gets a little older, more and more information may be given him. By the time he goes to school and mixes with his fellows, he will, in this way, have at least the fundamentals of sex education; and what is even more important, he will have a wholesome outlook upon the subject, regarding it as natural rather than as something mysterious and dirty‚, which must be referred to only in secret, without his parents’ knowledge. Children will probably observe animals in the sex act, and ask their parents what this means. That would be a good opportunity to explain to them that children are bom when the bodies of the parents are joined in this way, and how life begins; the spiritual side of love may be explained at the same time. If there are happy, harmonious conditions at home, the child knows very well what love‚ means, and can appreciate the happiness derived from closeness and physical contact just as he likes to be held in his mother’s arms. If parents possessed adequate sex knowledge themselves, and made it their object to impart this information to their children naturally, the world would be a far happier place to live in than it is to-day! This might readily come about by making children feel that you are their friend and confidante, with whom they can frankly discuss any of their personal problems.