April 27, 2013
Scarring Children For Life: When Kids Walk In On You Doing The Nasty (Part1)
Oh, uh, we were, err, um, we were just um wrestling; can you leave mommy and daddy alone for a little while, please? And knock next time, would ya? Surely, it’s happened to you at least once, and if it hasn’t yet, it will. How should you handle it?
It’s an embarrassing moment in time when everyone involved is puzzled, distracted, and often confused. For the parents, it can make them feel inadequate. Why were we so careless? How could we let the kids see us doing that? For the children, it can cause confusion, questions, and even anxiety if not dealt with properly.
Of course, I’m talking about the startling moment when you were too wrapped up in your partner (literally) to hear the scuttle of tiny feet entering the bedroom. Your child saw you having sex. Are you a bad parent? Is your child doomed?
Of course not, things like this happen all the time. At least that’s what Logan Levkoff, sexologist, says.
He explains to CNN Health, “Being walked in on during sex is a very common experience — and a great example of why it is important to knock first, and always respect someone’s privacy, but before you say anything to your child, you are going to need to determine what they heard, saw, and if they even care about what was going on.”
According to Dr. Logan, how you handle the situation all depends on the age of the child.
Most experts would agree that there’s little trepidation about being intimate while a baby is in the room.
Psychotherapist Jennifer Naparstek Klein points out, “It doesn’t seem harmful for there to be parental sexuality while a baby snoozes or is nearby in various states of alertness. Babies cannot process what the parents are doing, so it has no significance to them.”
When it comes to toddlers, it get’s a little more difficult; they may be oblivious to sex. On the other hand, you may have some explaining to do.
Sex therapist Margie Nichols clarifies, “Children sometimes think something violent or frightening is happening, and that should be addressed. When my son was a toddler, he thought his stepdad was ‘hurting’ me because, well, we were way too loud and even very late at night my son could hear us.
The key is to just explain that you and your spouse were having a private moment and that everything’s ok. Let that be the end of it unless the child has any follow up questions.
The difficulty in how to deal with the issue varies slightly with age depending on your child’s exposure to things of sexual nature.
Elementary age kids have some desire to know about sex, but at the same time, they usually aren’t interested in fielding their inquisitiveness with their folks.
“Always follow your child’s lead on what they can handle,” suggests Klein. “If they get too uncomfortable with sex talk, save it for a later time.”
I got the “birds and the bees” talk in fourth grade after questioning some suspicious late night noises. I was given a brief talk, and everything was fine after that.
(Read Part 2 to find out more about how to deal with this uncomfortable situation.)
Image Credit: Maridav / Shutterstock