What do you do if your child catches you having sex?
Here’s what you need to know if your child catches you having sex
OK so no-one sees this coming, but an ounce of prevention is most definitely worth a pound of explanation in this situation. Of course, it’s better to stop a problem from happening rather than correct it after, so it will be something you need to consider as your child gets older and is either awake with little ears on the alert, or when they can leave their own bed and come looking for you.
Should you be alarmed if they catch you ‘at it’?
Some parents who have a lusty and loud sex life may be worried their children will mistake their sexual enjoyment for fighting and think one of you is attacking the other. Or, you may simply wonder if children having a peek into their parent’s sex life could repulse or alarm them. Will it put them off sex, or you, for life?
The good news is that in the early days babies really have no context for what is going on. So, having sex when they are in a cot in your room is fine. But they can be alarmed by loud and angry voices which is why right from the word go you do need to consider conflict in front of or in the hearing of children. So, keep your noises joyful and loving – if anything, that is reassuring. Same goes for young children in their own bedroom – make sure any noise cannot be mistaken for a fight.
But what about when they are old enough to wander at night (or any other time of the day you choose to get intimate) and wander in?
Small children don’t understand sex. They are far more likely to be more traumatised by your reaction than the act. If you scream, jump up, hustle them away and then act angry, embarrassed or alarmed it’s this that will frighten them. They will be puzzled at your behaviour and highly confused. They could very likely assume they did something wrong and blame themselves – for what, however, they won’t be certain. If it happens your best tactic is stop, attend to them and explain “I’m sorry if that surprised you it’s nothing to be afraid of we were having a very special, loving cuddle that grown-ups enjoy together”. Tell them that sort of loving should only happen between two adults who are happy about it and agree – it’s never too soon to introduce the concept of consent. And make no more fuss about it.
But if you are thinking about this scenario, or after it’s happened, is time to consider their sex education. Don’t fall into the fallacy that sex ed should only happen when they are late teenagers – usually, far too late! Sex ed begins when they ask questions, and you answer them as truthfully as possible, but age appropriately. There are plenty of excellent books to help you – you might learn something too if you read them together. Try ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ by Robie H Harris. Aimed at young children its 20th anniversary edition includes information on the internet, texting safely and GLBT relationships.
You might also consider having a lock on your door, and rules in your home about knocking before entering and respecting privacy. Don’t forget the best way to teach children rules is to keep them yourself. Even little children have the right to see their own rooms as their space and will then learn to recognise your right too.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers