Old Ideas About Sex Disappear (10-7-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 7, 1940)

Your Baby —

Our Children See Things In New Light

By Myrtle Meyer Eldred

Those of us who grew up in the period when sex was a taboo subject and natural biological functions unmentioned except in whispers are profoundly glad that for our children such attitudes have disappeared. This is just as it should be and it seems impossible to imagine a modern parent rearing her children in the old and nonsensical traditions of false modesty.

“I take my seven-month-old son to visit a relative with a 3½-year-old daughter,” writes Mrs. R. "This girl is taught that everything relating to the toilet is a very private affair. Her mother sent her out of the room while the baby was being diapered.

Is this a wise course to pursue? Or, would it not be better to diaper the boy in front of the child? I want to know, too, if small children play together naked, when does one introduce restraint of this situation?

These are good questions. It is utterly mid-Victorian to bring up a present-day child in contradiction to modern customs. When this girl is thrust into the school situation where children do go to the toilet together; when she must use public toilets, with strangers about she will be unable to adjust herself.

If she thinks it is wrong now, she will think it is wrong always and she cannot expect to demand and get privacy in toilet behavior, since we no longer consider such functions with embarrassment.

The nicest, simplest way for any only child to learn about the other sex is to see small babies bathed or diapered, There is no excuse for this mother’s foolish prudery. She is only making problems for herself and the child.

The other question differs slightly, since it is taken for granted that both children would be of about the same age and therefore already aware that we bathe in public only with some covering garments.

You would have to judge when any self-consciousness crept in and that would be the moment to explain such customs and the child’s acceptance of them.

My leaflet on Sex Habits Common to Childhood may be obtained by sending a three-cent stamped, self-addressed envelope to Mrs. Eldred in care of this newspaper.