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Between the ages of 2 and 3 years the child becomes more interested in his excretory functions. This period is usually characterized by some ambivalence toward the mother and is often termed the "pregenital" or "anal" period. Usually these years coincide with toilet training and are characterized by an increased awareness on the child's part of his genitalia.
Freud theorized that an Oedipal period exists that roughly coincides with the child's ages of 4 to 6 years. During this period, marked intensification of the sex drive occurs and the genitalia supercede other organs as the main source of pleasure. Masturbation that began earlier in infancy now occurs more frequently and is more sustained. Specific fantasies that drive from the child's intense desires toward his parents, his curiosity about the sexes, and theories about his conception and birth may accompany masturbation.
Freud also introduced the concept of the Oedipus complex and explained how the boy turns to his mother at this stage, wanting her as a sexual object while simultaneously both hating his father and fearing retaliation from him. The boy resolves the situation by identifying with his father and eventually internalizes guilt over the fantasies he had entertained. A similar relationship occurs between father and daughter during this period.
The latency period usually encompasses ages to 11 years and, according to Freud, is a period during which biologic drives are much less pronounced. This child is able to interact much more actively with the world, since he is freed from much of the conflict experienced during the Oedipal period.
Sexuality is the subject of many questions during childhood. This is especially true in the event that children do not receive the information they request. Curiosity becomes compounded and may result in fantasy about sex or the association of sexuality with the excretory organs. Unfortunately it appears that the proverbial heart-to-heart talk between father and son is a myth. Usually the exchange of sexual information is between peers and is clandestine. Maintaining sexual information as secret from adults may lead to feelings of guilt. Thus authorities suggest that parents attempt to answer their child's questions about sex in a straightforward way.
It is also important to provide the child with the information he wants. A story is told of a young boy who asks his mother, "Where did I come from?" His mother, flustered by the question, proceeded to tell the child that he came from inside her, where his daddy had planted a seed. Relieved that she had finally imparted this information to her child, Mother sighed and asked "Does that make sense?" "Yes," said her son. "but I still want to know where I came from. Johnny said he came from Detroit."
Unfortunately problems associated with childhood sexuality are not all so simple. It is during this period that gender identity disorders often become evident. The history of the male-to-female transsexual typically dates the onset of cross-gender behavior back to early childhood. Often the transsexual recalls wanting to be a female or to wear female clothing. Parents comment that the child verbalizes wanting to be a girl, is preoccupied with feminine toys, tends to take on female roles in play, has feminine gestures, and is artistically inclined.
These characteristics engender great conflict in parents who are fearful of frustrating their sons. Many say they waited for the boy to outgrow the unacceptable behavior.
Some authors implicate the family in the transsexual's etiology, but there does not appear to be consistent evidence for this conclusion. Others hypothesize that the disturbance is related to temperament of the child. Determined in prenatal neuroendocrine organization, his temperament leads the parent to treat him as an infant of the opposite sex, leading to gender conflict. This theory also does not hold in all cases.
In either event, several attempts have been made to objectively document childhood behavior that is inconsistent with sexual norms. Bates and associates created a "gender behavior inventory for boys," which differentiates boys with gender disturbances from other boys. Factors measuring "feminine behavior, behavior disturbance, and extraversion" were found to be significantly different from the norm for boys with gender problems. Boys with gender problems scored higher on the feminine behavior and behavior disturbance factors and lower on the extraversion factor. Another factor, "mother's boy," was not significantly different. The tool is designed to be administered to mothers of boys as a screening device, but perhaps a defensive attitude on the mother's part could interfere with its validity, especially with regard to the last factor.
Green and Fuller tested a sample of thirty-five boys between the ages of 4 and 10 years who were described as preferring female dress and companionship by their parents. The feminine-behaving boys were given a set of dolls representing a family and asked to tell a story about them. In comparison with a control group of boys of similar ages the feminine-behaving boys and a control group of girls spent significantly more time holding the female and infant dolls. This test may be used under controlled conditions to corroborate the results of other tools used to diagnose gender problems.
Another area that may provide problems for parent and child is the tendency toward homosexual behavior. Although numerous factors are implicated in the etiology of homosexuality, some evidence does suggest that parental role models are important in the child's sexual development. Bieber and colleagues support the concept of pathogenic parenting, citing a protective, overpossessive, seductive mother and an indifferent, absent, or hostile father in the etiology of homosexuality. Theoretically such a child has no male role model and thus becomes stimulated and eventually emasculated by the mother. However, recent theory does not support Bieber's findings.
A recent study of eleven lesbians revealed significant differences in the Family Adjustment Test when compared with a control group of heterosexual women. The sample was young, with an average age of 23.8 years, well educated, unmarried, and employed. The lesbian subjects differed from the control group on items related to negative attitudes toward the mother, negative attitudes toward the father, parent-child friction, intraparental friction, struggle for independence, family inferiority, rejection of child, and parental qualities. Both parents were described in negative ways, and mothers were felt to be preoccupied with marital worries to the point of a lessened involvement with the daughter. The home situation was characterized by intraparental problems and child-parent hostility. In their childhood, the lesbian women tended to see the female role as a martyred one. The authors theorize that these negative childhood experiences probably contributed to lesbians' rejection of the conventional female sexual behavior patterns.
About The Author
David Crawford is the CEO and owner of a Male Enhancement company known as Male Enhancement Group which is dedicated to researching and comparing male enhancement products in order to determine which male enhancement product is safer and more effective than other products on the market. Copyright 2011 David Crawford of Male Enhancement This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.
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