What do you say about sex education to small children?
Truth is truth, and nobody should be debarred from it. Just because children are small, do they have to be fed on lies? Is truth only for grown-ups? Then does it mean truth is dangerous to the delicate consciousness of the child?
Truth is never dangerous, untruth is dangerous. And if you tell an untruth to a grown-up he may be able to defend; it can be forgiven. But never say an untruth to a child because he is so helpless, so indefensible. He depends so much on you, he trusts so much in you – don’t betray him. This is betraying! Telling any lie means you have betrayed the child. And finally you will be in trouble. Sooner or later, the child will discover that you have been telling lies. That very day all trust in you will disappear.
If young people start rebelling against the parents, the responsibility is not on them, the responsibility is of the parents. They have been telling so many lies. And now, by and by, the children start discovering that they were all lies. And if you have been telling so many lies, even the truth that you have told to them becomes suspicious. And one thing is certain, they lose trust in you. You have betrayed, you have deceived, you have become ugly in their consciousness. Your impression is not good anymore. In fact, they will never be able to trust anybody.
That’s the problem I am facing every day. When you come and become sannyasins, the problem that you have with your parents starts being imposed on me. You cannot trust me either. In a subtle way I become your father figure. And because your parents have deceived you, who knows? If even your parents deceive you, then I am a stranger and if even parents cannot be relied upon, then how can you rely upon me?
You will never be able to trust the woman you love, the man you love. You will never be able to trust the master you surrender to. You will never again be able to regain your trust in your life. And for what has your trust been destroyed? For such foolish things….
What is wrong? Sex is a simple fact. Tell it the way it is. And children are very, very perceptive. Even if you don’t tell them, they will discover it on their own. They are very curious people.
Carl was assigned to write a composition entitled, “Where I came from.” When he returned home from school, he entered the kitchen where his mother was preparing dinner.
“Where did I come from, Mama?” he asked.
“The stork brought you.”
“And where did Daddy come from?”
“The stork brought him, too.”
“And what about Grandpa?”
“Why, the stork brought him too, darling.”
Carl very carefully made notes on what Mama had told him, and the next day he handed in the following composition:
“According to my calculations, there hasn’t been a natural birth in my family for the past three generations.”
Children are very perceptive. They go on watching, they go on seeing what foolishness you are talking about. And how long can you deceive them? Life is there, and life is sexual. And they are watching life. They will see animals making love, they will see birds making love. And you may go on believing that they have never seen you making love; you can go on believing it, but children know that their parents make love. In the beginning they may think they are fighting or something, but sooner or later they discover that something is going on behind their back.
Why create these suspicions and doubts? Why not be true? Truth is always good, truth is always divine. Let them know things as they are.
I know a friend of mine who was determined to have it out with his older boy and spent several hours painstakingly explaining sexual physiology to him. At the conclusion, feeling utterly exhausted and knowing that he didn’t want to go through it again with his younger son, he said, “And Billy, now that I’ve explained it to you, can I count on you passing it on to Bobby?”
“Okay Dad,” said young William.
His elder son went out in search of his younger brother at once. “Bobby,” he said when he found him, “I just had a long lecture from Dad and he wants me to pass on what he told me to you.”
“Go ahead,” said Bobby.
“Well, you know what you and I were doing with those girls behind the barn last month? Dad wants me to tell you that the birds and the bees do it too!”
Don’t be foolish, let things be as they are. Truth can never be the enemy, sexual or otherwise. Befriend truth.
And children are very understanding. They immediately accept the fact. They have no prejudices, they have no notion of right and wrong. If you tell them the truth, they understand it is so and they forget all about it. And it will create a great trust in you. You never deceived them.
It is sex education which is one of the fundamental causes of the rift between the generations. The day the child discovers that the parents have been deceiving him, he loses all roots in trust. That is the most devastating shock you can give to that delicate system.
Go on telling the truth as it is and don’t try to philosophize about it, and don’t go on round and round. Tell it the way it is.
Why is there so much fear about it in you? – because your parents have not told it to you, so you feel a little shaky, nervous, afraid, as if you are moving in some dangerous territory.
Be very simple, direct. And whenever a child inquires about anything, if you know about it, tell it. If you don’t know about it, say that you don’t know. There are two wrongs that you can do: one is saying something as it is not – one danger; another is saying something which you don’t know.
For example, the child asks, “Who created the world?” and you say, “God.” Again you are leading him into some mischief. You don’t know; you are pretending that you know. Soon the child will discover that you know nothing, your God is bogus.
And the problem is not that your God is proved bogus, the problem is that now the whole concept of God is proved bogus. You have destroyed a great possibility of inquiring into God. You should have said, “I don’t know. I am trying to know. I am as ignorant as you are. If I find before you do, I will tell you, if you find before I do, please tell me.”
And your son will respect you forever for this sincerity of the heart, for this equality, that you never pOsho, Get Out of Your Own Way, Talk #4retended, that you never tried to show, “I know and you don’t know,” that you were never egoistic.
Saying to the child, “God created the world,” without knowing it, is nothing but just an ego trip. You are enjoying at the cost of the child’s ignorance. But how long can you enjoy this knowledge?
Never tell the child that which you yourself are incapable of doing. Don’t tell the child, “Be truthful, always be truthful” – because once he catches you red-handed being untruthful, you have destroyed something immensely valuable. And there is nothing more precious than trust.
How long can you hide the fact? One day somebody knocks on the door, and you say to the child, “Tell him Daddy is not at home.” And now the child knows that to talk about truth is one thing, but it is not meant to be followed and practiced. You have created a duality in him of saying something, pretending something, and Oshobeing something else quite the contrary of it. You have created the split.
And if you know something, if the child asks about sex or how children come into the world, and you know – then simply say it as it is. Make it as simple as possible because the child is not asking about the physiology or about the chemistry or about the inner mechanism of sex. He is not asking about all that nonsense; that is not his interest. Don’t start telling him about physiology – becaOsho, Get Out of Your Own Way, Talk #4use what they do in schools in the name of sex education is teach only physiology. And the child is simply bored; he is not interested.
He simply wants the truth. How do children come, where do they come from? Just say it. And never try to give him more information than he needs and he asks for, because that will be too early. Particularly in the West that too is happening, where the idea has become prevalent that children have to be given sex education. So parents are in a hurry. Even if the child has not inquired, they go on pouring their kOshonowledge that they have acquired from books. Children simply feel bored. Unless the inquiry has arisen in the child, there is no need to say anything. When the inquiry has arisen there is no need to hide anything.
And it is not a question of age at all, so don’t ask about small children. Whom do you call small? What is the age limit? Is seven years old small? Or is nine years old small? It is not a question of age. Whenever the child inquires he is ready to be given the information. He may be four, he may be five, he may be seven. The more intelligent a child is, the earlier he will inquire, that much is certain. The stupid, the mediocre child may not inquire when he is twelve, and at fourteen he may inquire. But the intelligent child is bound to inquire because life is such a mystery that from the very beginning the child becomes aware that something is happening. All around, life is happening, life is perpetuating itself.
He sees the eggs of the birds in the garden, and then one day the eggs are broken and the birds come out. He goes on seeing his mother’s belly growing bigger and bigger, and he certainly becomes curious. What is happening? Is his mother ill or something? And then one day she comes from the hospital with a child. And where has the child come from? It has been brought by the stork. And he sees the belly is not big anymore. Now he is puzzled. What happened to the belly?
Don’t create unnecessary puzzles for children. Life is puzzling enough as it is. Life is so mysterious, the inquiry is bound to be there. But remember, the more intelligent a child is, the sooner he is going to inquire. So if your child inquires early, don’t think that he seems to be dirty from the very beginning. He is not dirty, he is intelligent. If anybody is dirty, you are dirty. He is simply intelligent.
Tell him things as they are and tell himOsho the way he can understand. Don’t philosophize, don’t go indirectly round and round; go directly to the point. Make it as clear as two plus two is four.
And you will be surprised, once the fact has been told the child goes away and starts playing. He is not much interested anymore; he never brings the question again. If you falsify, he will bring the question again and again – from this side, from that side, any excuse and he will bring the question because he wants to know the fact, and unless the fact is given he is not going to be satisfied.
Only facts satisfy. Falsifications can postpone but they cannot satisfy.