How to talk with your young child about Sexuality (1)
In my therapeutic work with children, the issue of sexuality often comes up. I want to explore over the coming weeks a bit more the issue of children and sexuality. I am struck by the fact that, although we live in a hyper sexualized culture, the idea of talking to children about sexuality is rather avoided, delayed to a later time when they will be considered ready for the 'talk.'
Recently I saw a youtube video where parents were giving their young children this dreaded 'talk' in an awkward, uncomfortable, 'clinical' and 'sterile' environment. Giving the talk seems to limit itself to an awkward way of delivering the mechanics of the act. However, a mother who had just 'delivered' this information, immediately added that she did not like what she just said. I can understand why: as we are limiting us to talking about the mechanics, the more important dimension of desire is not addressed.
More than talking in direct and neutral way about the facts, it is more important not to be quite about this element of desire that is connected with it. This might be even a harder nut to crack for parents. It is important to communicate with children that their private parts are not just a place where certain animal needs are met - excretion. Children understanding babies as being born out of the 'butt' indicate that they have not separate this notion of need and desire. It is important to communicate to them in some way that there is a special part in their body dedicated to the desire between people, to a mutual pleasure that people can give each other.
It is important to communicate to both boys and girls that they have this special part in their body. A little girl can feel disappointed after she discovers the sexual difference, that she is not given the same beautiful phallic object that boys seem to possess. It is important to tell her that as her body matures she will discover her sexuality, and that her pleasure and desire will be as valuable as those of a boy.
Talking to little girls and boys about human sexual desire in those simple and straight forward terms might be an important missing piece in current in sex education: sex is not just a mechanic transaction, it has to do with human desire. Talking about that to little girls and boys in this way will make them value that desire. It becomes something that they feel is approved of by their parents. They will not consider it a taboo subject, that they need to be ashamed of. It will make them in the long run stronger and more able to value their bodies as places of desire, withstanding attempts to use their bodies for a gratification without that element of desire. Where sex is just reduced to the gratification of a need. Might the current hook up culture be an example of the latter.
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