We are born sexual beings. For many of us, somewhere between our birth and our active sexual life as an adult we have become less than satisfied, joyful, radiant beings, sexually. For most of us, we have learned to fear desire and unadulterated sexual pleasure, and ignorantly pass our fears on to our children: as wee ones we’re told don’t touch yourself – it’s dirty; cover yourself up – no one wants to see your private parts; boys and girls can’t share a bath or bedroom. As older children adults say you’re too old to be naked, you’re too young to know about sex, sex is for grown-ups. As teens we hear about sexual diseases, abstinence, sluts, whores, boys just want to take advantage of girls. Not to mention all the mixed messages we pick up from our culture: sexy is good but sex is bad, at nearly any age. As adults most of us are pretty fucked up. We might spend the rest of our lives wishing and trying to achieve comfort with our sexuality.
Can we dissect this? As human animals, we are delivered into this lifetime as a result of sexual orgasm. As humans, from birth to death, we are driven by sexual pleasure. Infants of both sexes will masturbate easily and comfortably within days of their birth – noticeable of course when no diapers are present. Diapers are the first thwarting of sexual expression and pleasure that occur for most of us. Young children out of the diaper stage will also masturbate easily and comfortably, as well as ask a lot of questions about how they got here, how babies are born, differences between male and female genitalia.
Much deeper than the pure pleasure of sexual gratification is the energetic heart of what makes us tick, what motivates us, what gives us the stamina to do the things we love to do and do them well. Our energetic heart is linked directly to the satisfaction we are able to achieve sexually. The pleasure that is derived from sexual stimulation is all about feeling good. As human animals, there is no physical feeling more intensely pleasurable than sexual stimulation that leads to orgasm. Nurturing this natural feel-good desire and satisfaction stimulates the whole being, in turn nurturing the easy and natural feel-good of other bodily pleasures: the enjoyment of tastes and sounds; personal expression and challenge through art, intellect, athletics, music. When sexual expression and pleasure is thwarted, the feel-good drive is stunted. Life starts to feel more like work than pleasure.
Somehow we have wound up living in a world that treats us – as infants and children – as dummies. We have come to believe that we have to teach children how to think and behave sexually, that there are wrongs and rights about it all. Sexual connectedness to oneself is as elemental to being a human as the connection to breathing, learning to walk, talk, eat, shit, play and grow.
Connection to the essence of oneself hinges on growing up in an environment that trusts our natural abilities to experiment, observe, listen, gauge what is safe or unsafe, what is trustworthy or not, make sense of the world, make choices that come from our developing and always evolving sense of inner authority. On our own terms. When nurtured to feel, examine and make personal choices from early on, growth is achieved in the highly unique and specialized way that is right and true for us.
I’ve had this conversation with lots of folks over the years and the concern about abuse always comes up: how do we protect our children from the abuse and exploitation of others, especially if raised to be “sexually free?” A child nurtured to enjoy the easy and natural feel-good in life understands what love, respect and trust feel and look like. They have learned to follow their intuition, question, and make decisions that adults support. As a result, and this is critical, they have learned they have a voice that’s respected, they trust their intuition and can speak authoritatively on it, they can act according to what they feel is right and trust that adults are in partnership with them. Such children are not easily lured or swayed or coerced to do things that don’t FEEL GOOD.
We are born enormously intelligent beings. We are not taught to be intelligent. Our reflexes, intuition, drives for survival are strong. We cry because we have something to say and hope someone is listening. We laugh when we’re happy. Moment by moment, step by step, we take on the world. As social animals we come into this life eager for loving companionship, respectful and trusting partnership with other human animals. Every time a baby is born we get a brand new chance to nurture a being to full vital expression, authority and self ownership.
If I was going to offer advice, here is what I’d say. Create every possible opportunity for your infant to be naked: in your arms with a towel, playing in water or outside, consider elimination communication (EC), extend the in between diaper times as long as possible. Let your baby do whatever they like with their bodies and genitalia. As young children, allow them to be naked as often as they like, on their own terms. When respected in the privacy of their own homes to feel free with nudity and their own sexuality they will easily learn that clothes are necessary for public appearances. If you share a family bed, allow your children to be aware of the energetics of adult lovemaking: they will associate the sounds of it later with mature love that involves sex. Further, nurture sex play for your children: doctor games, being married role plays. These are fun and important games for them that should be explored with love and respect not shame and fear. Welcome all questions about elimination, procreation, sexual pleasure and the responsibilities of each. Lecturing is not required – questions will come naturally and often prolifically, as their environment with self, animals, siblings, friends, etc. warrant.
With my three children, I saw that they each preferred to be naked all the time, even in winter, up to the age of about six, at which point they became very aware that everyone else is wearing clothes and their own personal sense of modesty set in. When my kids, influenced by their friends, would ask me when they would be allowed to date or have sex, I would tell them that those important decisions would be ones they would make, not their mother. Knowing when it feels nice and good to date and when to have sex are extraordinarily personal decisions that should and will vary from person to person. I always shared my opinions and experience with them but made sure they knew that these big decisions were their own to make. It’s worth saying too that I said such things to my kids knowing that it was possible they would make mistakes… and that I would continue to support their decision-making. Trust is not trust if there is a punishment or admonishment hanging over one’s head. At the same time, I did my earthly best to let them know that I would always do my best in giving them advice – if they asked. They did, often, knowing that the decision to make was theirs alone.