You Should Have Sex (*and you shouldn’t try to hide that from your kids)

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Image adapted via iStock

So some of you are already thinking that I'm a crazy woman, telling you not to hide sex from your kids. You're thinking of all the ways that sounds inappropriate, right? But let me explain. I'm not saying to not value the privacy and intimacy of the sexual relationship. Rather, I am telling you to teach your children to value the privacy and intimacy of the sexual relationship by acknowledging that it exists.

At some point, your kids are going to know that you've had sex. Whether that's because they learn that is the way they were conceived or because eventually they realize that “pretty much everyone does this, so I guess my parents must have done it at some point,” they will get there. So there is really no point in trying to pretend that it hasn’t happened. Eventually, the truth will reveal itself.

Since that is inevitable, isn't it wise to make the most of this opportunity you have? What opportunity, you ask? The opportunity to show your children that sex is a natural, lovely part of a normal and healthy relationship. 

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“But I have to protect their innocence!” you may say. “It feels awkward,” you might argue. Do you know what is increasingly hard for kids? Understanding what a healthy sexual relationship looks like based on the images presented in media. Whether we're talking television, music, or even what is shared by their peers and celebrities in social media, kids get a view of sex based on what is presented to them.

When you think about it, this is what your kids have for sex education. I'm not talking about learning the birds and the bees of the “how” sex works, mechanically (although they may hear that on the playground, too). I'm talking about learning what it means to have sex as part of a relationship.

When your children see you and your partner showing one another affection, respect, and love, it will become what they expect from those who seek out a relationship with them once they've reached an appropriate age for those things. When you let them know that you and your partner value one another and that your relationship is a priority, they will learn that they should be a valued priority to others. When you treat sex, intimacy, and affection as an important part of your relationship and day-to-day life, you show them that it's about so much more than the act itself.

So how can you do that?

Don't hide affection. My kids are in a stage right now that vocally declares kissing is gross. I tell them that they're right — for 6-year-olds, kissing IS gross. But when they grow up and really like someone, they might want to kiss them to show them how much they like them. And that's why I kiss their daddy. He and I like each other the very best. 

Take time for your relationship. Whether it is getting Grandma to babysit so that you can go on a date or setting the kids up with a movie on Saturday afternoon and telling them that you are going to have some “private time” in your room, show them that, just as you care for them, you also care for each other.

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Talk about bodies, intimacy, and sex in positive, appropriate terms. Many kids express curiosity early on about their own bodies, whether examining their genitals or engaging in masturbation. Respectfully let them know that their body is theirs to explore, but that privacy is important. Just as we don't put our fingers in our nose at the dinner table, we don't fondle our parts in the living room. They can learn what is appropriate and inappropriate only when they are told or shown, so go ahead and talk about it openly and without shame.

When questioned about sex or intimacy, answer the question that they are actually asking in age-appropriate terms and then allow them to lead the discussion. My kids understand already that babies exit the body through the vagina or an incision in the abdomen, but they aren't yet concerned about how they get in there. Fine by me. I'm in no rush to cross that bridge with them, but I'll hold their hands and walk over it together when we get there. 

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So what do you think? Do you try to keep your kids shielded from sex? What is appropriate to share? 

What do you think?

You Should Have Sex (*and you shouldn’t try to hide that from your kids)

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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11 comments

  1. Ashley says:

    This is crazy. … I can’t believe it’s something ” every day family” would send me an email to read. … I don’t agree not even a little bit. You can teach young children about healthy relationship’s with out involving sex or letting them know you just got done doing the deed. … I’m about ready to delete every day family out of my every day life
    ..

  2. melissa says:

    i thought my kids young ive never tried to cover the tv they watch dont get me wrong i dont let them watch porn but like a pg 13 or r movie i didnt hide from them ,or were kids come from i have a 13 year old son who isnt into girls like his friends are he is all about running and drums and his bike now his friends always get crazy when they see girls on tv or talk about girls and my son is like ok …..i always thought i was one of the only parents like this and maybe i was wrong but i look at my friends kids who hide stuff from there parents and one kid ordered 150 $ of porn on tv when his mom wasnt home im in a way glad my kids have never been like that id rater them ask me and learn what i tell them compare to them finding out on there own or by someone eles

  3. Andrea says:

    Really appreciated and learned from this article. I wasn’t taught much about how to treasure and appreciate one another growing up and it made it that much harder to figure it out later. thank you

  4. MamaBear says:

    If you don’t like it don’t read it! I found your article to be well written and appreciate your openness. I have always been very open with my child in regards to where babies come from, how out bodies work, that there are differences between boys and girls, and only women and men can have babies. (That when two people love each other very much they are able to have a baby, and that baby will grow inside of the mommy. And ect.) I let my child be naked if they wish(we live in one of the hottest climates on earth.) we are all the same and there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to your body. There is a time and place for everything. My child is about 6 years of age and asks new and unusual questions everyday, in addition, I have willingly explained things when I see that it’s something he doesn’t understand. Even if he doesn’t know the question to ask. It’s my job as a parent to insure that I am the one who teaches them right from wrong; not just sit by and expect that they will one day understand. In hopes that they will be safe. It’s my duty to make sure my child is safe and knows what the real works is. My child feels comfortable talking to me about any and everything. And that is because of how open we are with each other about everything. Thank you so much for the article! I really did find a lot of use in the things you said!!

  5. Denise says:

    Well I disagree. I think my kids will eventually learn about all that by asking me at some point and even if they don’t ask they will figure it out! I don’t feel that I have to anticipate the conversation so clearly…. At my home my mom never did and I grew up just fine with it ( I knew it but I didn’t feel I had to ask her) plus I want to teach my kids that sex is natural but only with LOVE and I Also disagree with supporting them with masturbation ( even in privacy), our family have morals, values and our religion goes against this practice….. I kindly suggest you to please review this kind of articles and consider those who have different opinions, values, morals according to their way of life or religion before posting and supporting something like this. Many parents will agree with on that based on their family morals and beliefs. Thanks.

    • Hi there, Denise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You know, most of the focus of what I’m saying is simply to model for your children what you consider to be a healthy relationship that includes sex instead of avoiding the topic entirely. Of course different families will have different standards for what they think that means and you certainly can adapt what you teach your kids to be in line with your personal belief system, just as I do with mine.

      What I’m really arguing is essential is that we do allow for the conversation to happen when it needs to by creating a safe and loving environment in which our kids know that they can ask their questions without fear. I’d rather my children learn what sex is and should be from me, rather than from peers, television, or other outside influences – but if that’s what I want then I think I have to be willing to provide an example and talk to them about it. It’s great that you know what you want your kids to learn about sex and relationships, and I commend you for thinking about it and encourage you to talk to them – because they may not ask, and if they don’t then how can they know?

    • Michelle says:

      People with morals masterbate, it is part of sex, which as you stated is natural. I remember when I was 15 & my friend (same age) who had not been verbal with her mom about sex because her mom never addressed it, found out she was pregnant & wanted to run away out of fear of punishment/stigma. Her mom only found out about it because Of a note I wrote to her explaining how her mom would always be her best friend & would help her with any dicissions she needed to make-that she should tell her mom & not run, that she would need her help. Her mom was super thankful that I had given such sound advice. Advice I could’ve only given since my Mom was so open to discussing life with me-by the way-my Mom is a total goody 2 shoes. God made our bodies and gave us sexual urges/desires for a reason-don’t knock it.

  6. Craig says:

    When I first read this title I was a little concerned but after reading it I gain some valuable information.

  7. nichole says:

    This sounds like a great plan! my little one is not in this world yet but this is definitely something to keep in mind for later on in life! yes it may be awkward at first because of the way people have always made it hush hush but if you work at it and keep trying then it will become increasingly easier to talk to your children about it!! thanks for the advice!! 🙂

  8. Ronald says:

    Very well put, and thank you for saying it. People allowing or causing the subject to be taboo, cause their children to under-develop mentally and emotionally, and then wonder how they could have ended so messed later on in life. My wife and I’ve been doing just like all of this article says, and will continue to do so. It’s definitely helping our son to understand things and to be comfortable with us, plus he really likes us giving him play dates, time with other family and friends, and video game time too, lol. Everybody wins, in every possible way. 🙂

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