I can remember the first thing I said outloud as the Dr. pulled Jake from my wife the day he was born.
I was so excited to have a son! I would have bet anything we were going to have a second girl. From that moment on it’s been such an amazing experience watching him throughout the last two and a half years of his precious life. Watching him grow and seeing the differences between his personality and his big sister (who’s only 16 months older) has been amazing.
Now, he’s found his penis. As in, “I’m going to touch this thing until it stands as tall as a toy soldier and tell you I have an itch”.
So now what?
Penis’ have a horrible rap in our society. Here’s what I mean:
Someone cuts you off in traffic and they’ve transformed into a Penis because they’re now a “Prick”. Maybe that guy took your parking space at the mall and he’s now transformed into a “Dick head”. Things like oral sex which are pleasurable have now turned into outright insults like calling someone a “C0#&sucker”!
Not only have we confused the penis with what we call our worst enemies but now it’s used to determine our manhood. I mean afterall when we’re not “Man Enough” we must have a small penis too! It’s a never ending horrible cycle of hate for the penis and it starts when we’re just boys.
Jake is starting to touch himself now, in a very innocent way mind you, and he has no idea the penis is this horrible thing. So I have a choice at this very impressionable point in his life. I can tell him to stop touching his penis because that’s gross, and we shouldn’t touch ourselves and everything else that goes along with reminding a 2 year old that there’s something wrong with him OR I can help nurture, love, and accept him for who he is. He is a boy with a penis and he’s finding out that touching it probably tickles or feels good in some capacity. His penis isn’t this horrible thing that we’ve convinced ourselves it is. It’s a part of the male body and is a body part not too dissimilar from many others. Do I want Jake growing up learning that it’s okay to sit in school at 13 years old “playing with himself”? Of course I don’t but that’s not my point here. Of course there is a time and place to “explore” your body. At this point, now that he’s out of diapers, he’s only touching himself when his pants are off or when he’s butt naked which isn’t the majority of the day. I also don’t encourage him to touch himself. In fact, I don’t make much of a deal about it. My wife and I will ask him if he has to go “pee pee” and that’s about it. When the time is right and if it came to the point where we needed to say something we would certainly encourage him to touch himself when he’s alone or at home. However, we’re far from that point in his young life.
For my 2 year old son the last thing I want to pass along is that there is some part of his body that’s not good or that there’s something “wrong with him”. It’s easy for parents to feel some shame when their children touch themselves, especially in a public setting. Unfortunately, we wind up passing that shame on to our own children. We do everything in our power to get them “to stop”! Normally, it’s in a hurried, loud fashion because “others are looking” and we want them to stop now! The problem is now we’ve given our own shame over to our impressionable children and they’re now left to carry on with that.
It’s about time we stop passing on all that shame around little boys and their penis’. Children have no boundaries and just want to be loved. Loving starts with us parents and the best thing we can do is affirm, accept, and appreciate our little boys even if they happen to discover there’s something between their legs.