"I saw my parents naked together. Were they having sex?"

Can you imagine your children walking in on you and your spouse having sex? Surely this is one of the scenarios many parents dread! If this were to happen, how can we respond in a way that is helpful for our kids?

The Early Years (Ages 0-3)

Parents who sleep with their infants and toddlers in the same room may have sex while their kids are sound asleep in their cribs. While children at this age would generally not be affected if they happen to see their parents having sex, it goes without saying that it is not wise or safe to have sex while your child is in the same bed as you and your spouse.

From time to time, you and your spouse may also change in front of your child. However, you should try not to be naked in front of him or her by the time he or she is around two years old, especially if your child is of the opposite sex. Modesty in parents is a good practice for children to observe from an early age.

The Preschool Years (Ages 4-6)

If your child steps into your room while you and your spouse are enjoying sexual intimacy, the first thing to do is not to panic or overact. Your response in this situation would likely shape their ideas and response toward sex. We do not want to unintentionally evoke a sense of shame about the body or sex.

Cover yourselves up quickly and ask him or her to leave the room because Daddy and Mummy are enjoying some alone time together. You may choose to address the need to knock and wait for permission to enter the room at this point or at a later time.

After you and your spouse are dressed, talk to your child about what he or she saw or didn’t see. This lets you know how to address what happened with your child.

Your child might have just woken up from sleep and was bleary-eyed, and so did not see as much as you thought he or she did. Or your child might have come in from playing and was shocked by what he or she stumbled upon.

For children younger than five, there is likely not a need to share too much detail. It is important not to lie or make things up. Just be honest and use simple terms to talk about what happened.

If your child did not see much, talk to them about the importance of privacy and getting permission to open a closed door next time. If your child saw you and your spouse naked and asked questions about what you both were doing, explain that Daddy and Mummy love each other and sometimes have special alone time to show love for each other.

The Primary Years (Ages 7-9) The Tween Years (Ages 10-12) The Teen Years (Ages 13-15)

If this situation happens with kids in these age groups, you can take the same approach as the above regarding conversations on privacy and sexual intimacy, but age up how you would address these issues with your children accordingly.

When speaking to your child about the matter, remember to bring it up in a calm manner, addressing the topic of sex factually. Be proactive in this conversation, instead of wishing that your child did not see anything, waiting for him or her to raise the topic, or hoping that he or she would not bring it up.

As you talk to your kids about what they may or may not have seen, read their emotions. Are they shocked or confused or scared? They may convey some awkwardness, and that is to be expected. Remember that as parents, you and your spouse set the tone for the conversation as well as how your kids may view sex in the future.

Take this opportunity—if you have not already—to talk to your children about what sex is. You can share with them something like: “Daddy and Mummy love each other very much, and sex is one of the ways we show love. Daddy and Mummy get really close to each other, and we hug and kiss to make each other feel good. Daddy then puts his penis into Mummy’s vagina, and that is called having sex. Sometimes, when Daddy and Mummy do this, Mummy may become pregnant and this is how Daddy and Mummy can make a baby. This is how you came about!”

Your child may respond in a number of ways, including being weirded out, alarmed, shocked, or he or she may not have a huge reaction at all. That is natural, and as parents, it is for you and your spouse to communicate that sex between a husband and a wife is a beautiful thing to be enjoyed.

As your kids grow up, you may need to return to this topic again, weaving in themes of your family’s values and expectations regarding sex and relationships. Continue to build on this ongoing conversation in age-appropriate ways, guiding your children to have a healthy understanding of sexual intimacy within a committed marriage.

 

Related Posts in the Talk about Sex series

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