How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce p.200

It is also natural for a child, particularly an older child, to feel sexually excited by watching displays of sexual affection (even more subtle ones like open-mouthed kissing or caressing). Children, as small humans, are sexual beings – which is why they have crushes on other kids or adults, play doctor or express curiosity about other children’s bodies, and touch their genitals when young or mastubate when older. It is normal and healthy for children to express curiosity and interest in sex, but being exposed to contact that is too stimulating or intense can be difficult for them. For example, when seeing a parent naked, some toddlers, preschool-age children, or school-age children will become overly focused on a parent’s genitals or breasts, which is a sign that the child is old enough to be stimulated and fascinated by sex and bodies. This is why many parents, particularly opposite sex parents, decide to stop bathing with their children when children grow out of toddlerhood.

If your child (of any age) makes comments about you touching or engaging in expressions of physical affection with a new partner, or if your child has accidentally walked in on you having sexual contact with a new partner, it’s a good time to initiate a conversation about sex. You can tell your child that one way to express love is through touching, which is why you and your new partner touch each other. If your young child asks what sex is or how babies are made, you can give a straightforward response, such as:

“A man has sperm, and a woman has small eggs in her body, and when the sperm and the egg meet, a baby is made. The sperm come out through the man’s penis, and if the man puts his penis in the woman’s vagina, the sperm can reach the eggs in her body. People only have sex when they are older and many people choose to wait until they are in love with someone. Sex is normal and healthy, but parents like to tell their own kids about sex. So, don’t tell any kids at school about sex in case their parents haven’t told them yet.”

This is a good explanation for a school-age child. If a child asks about sex or babies before that, often you can discuss the sperm and eggs without elaborating on how they meet. Note that I am not against telling even a young child about how sex occurs, but if your child repeats what you’ve told him at school, many parents are less liberal and may be upset if your child tell their child about sex. Therefore, I include the clause about not telling the other children, just as you would if your child learned that Santa or the tooth fairy aren’t real before other children his age.

If your child expresses disgust or discomfort around the topic of sex, or when seeing physical affection between you and your new partner, use mirroring, empathy, and validation to ensure that your child feels heard and respected. Then consider whether you are being respectful of your child’s boundaries. Apologize if you realize you have been excessive.

In general, only engage in forms of physical affections in front of your child that would be acceptable in public. A child does not need to hear any sounds of sex or be explicitly or implicity told that you’re going to have sex or that you have an enjoyable sex life. Often children in environments where sex is on display become promiscuous before they are ready, because their curiosity is piqued and they are fitting in with this new household norm. This can lead to a child getting into relationships that he is not emotionally ready for. Therefore, it is best to keep your expressions of physical intimacy moderate and discreet.

 

Samantha Rodman – How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce p.200

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The Brain and the Inner World p.168

A similar line of reasoning applies to infantile amnesia. The hippocampus is not fully functional in the first two years of life. This suggests that it is not possible for someone to encode episodic memories during this time period. Naturally, this does not imply that these early years are unimportant, or that we have no memory of the first two years of life. It implies only that the memories that we do encode during the very early years will take the form of habits and beliefs (procedural and semantic knowledge) rather than explicit, episodic memories. Infantile knowledge is stored as “bodily memory” and implicit knowledge about how the world works. We therefore have every reason to expect that early experience has a decisive impact on personality development (considering the evidence of “neuronal pruning” and the like).

 

Mark Solms – The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of the Subjective Experience p.168

Relational Child Psychotherapy p.97

In any event, boys start to compare the fact that they have penises with other facts they come to recognize, that girls have vulvas rather than penises, that women grow breasts, get pregnant, give birth to babies, and nurse babies at their breasts. As the cognitive categories of present and absent are created, a boy wonders about his own body. Could he lose his penis and look like a girl? Could he have babies and nurse them? Longing, envy, and fear mix with interest and awe.

 

Neil Altman, Richard Briggs, Jay Frankel, Daniel Gensler, Pasqual Pantone – Relational Child Psychotherapy p.97

Love and Its Place in Nature p.102

One way to get to these contents [of the infantile mind] might be to treat Hans as forming a community of one. The meaning of “widdler” would then be given by what Hans does and would call a “widdler.” The focus on Hans’s actual and potential use will give us Hans’s dispositions to call things “widdler”. But there is a problem which confronts any attempt to determine what this disposition is. Would Hans call an elephant’s trunk a widdler? An anteater’s nose? A large draining cyst? An octopus’s tendril? We have no way of answering these questions. We may see a certain coherence in Hans’s way of going on, but it is not sufficient for us to feel confident that we can go on to use the expression in respect to these problematic cases. More importantly, there does not seem to be any way to investigate what the disposition is without possibly altering it. Suppose, for instance, that Hans had called an elephant’s trunk a widdler. Is there any room for thinking that he might have made a mistake, even by his own lights? Suppose that we pointed out to Hans that this elephant also had a penis or a vagina; suppose, too, that we showed Hans that the elephant urinated through his penis, and that he used his trunk both as an olfactory and as a prehensile organ. It is not clear how Hans would respond. He might decide that the elephant has two widdlers. But let us suppose that he revises his original judgment: he comes to deny that the trunk is a widdler and asserts that the penis is one. There is no way to decide whether Hans has corrected a mistake in his own use of widdler or whether he has revised the concept of a widdler in the light of our teaching.

There is, then, a severe limit to the extent to which anyone can go native in a tribe that consists of one three-and-a-half-year-old speaker. Any attempt to focus in on what he means will to some extent draw his attention to our perceptions of salience. In trying to enter his linguistic community, we inevitably draw him into ours. There seems to be a gap that cannot be completely closed between the conceptual content of a mental state and the content of an infant’s mind.

 

Jonathan Lear – Love and Its Place in Nature p.102