In This Early Period Sex Is For The Child A Family Affair
( Originally Published 1923 )
In this Early Period Sex is for the Child a Family Affair.-Ideas regarding sex should not be acquired in complete isolation; they cannot be kept in a compartment by themselves. And the feelings or impulses which the facts of sex must later involve will in any case over-flow into all aspects of life and interests. It is, therefore, desirable from the first to associate in the child's mind everything he learns about reproduction and sex with his ideas and sentiments concerning the family. Here is an abundance of affection and intimacy, of sympathy and confidence, in which relations between baby and mother, between father and mother, between sisters and brothers, can find a wholesome and comfortable setting. Whatever the child learns about sex is thus incidental to what he learns about life, and for the first few years most of his life is a family affair.
Because of this close association between the family and his first acquisitions concerning sex and reproduction, these topics are thus in a way separated from experiences found outside the home, and whatever reticence may be desirable on the subject may be obtained without the need of making the child especially conscious of it.
This intimate association involves on the part of the parents complete freedom from any embarrassment in the presence of the child, as well as from a disposition to regress the child or to give too much attention to the subject. And it should result in making the child assimilate the purposes and ideals of the home, without waiting for these to be learned as formulated rules or principles.
Finally, the casual and unconscious acceptance of sex as part of the every-day routine will bring about a dilution or diffusion of the interest in sex, by extending it through association with a large number of ideas and activities; and also a refinement of feeling with regard to sex, by associating it with the standards and sentiments and motives of the family life.