How do you react when your kids ask the unexpected? Aleasa Word tackles the question of masturbation.
Every once in a while you get a chance to have real conversations with parents about what their kids say. When kids are pre-school age most questions are cute. As they get into elementary school, they’re cute but definitely filled with curiosity for real information. When they are in middle school…..well, the gloves are off. Depending on your relationship with your child, there’s no telling what questions they’ll come up with. Parents need to think quick on their feet; because, facial expressions can instantly encourage or discourage the level of trust your child has depending on the story your face tells.
Having a chat with a couple of parents at an event about things their kids have said got me to thinking. A mom reported, one day her son walked up to her and said “Mom, I’ve been thinking, should I masturbate.” Before she could tell us what happened, everyone fell over in hysterical laughter including her, recalling the moment. Suddenly we all stopped and waited in anticipation to find out what her reaction was. We all leaned forward as if we were waiting to see what happened next in a scary movie.
Before I tell you what happened next, let me give you the back story. This terrific mom is a single mom like me. She does really well financially but is a widow. She keeps her kids active and from my understanding has some really good people in her kid’s lives but they’re just really close to her. I can definitely relate to that with my own crew.
Now, where was I? We sat on the edge of our seats waiting for her answer. She described the millisecond which seemed like an hour where she had to think fast about what she was going to say. The mom said she swallowed really hard and tried to look pleasantly surprised by the question. Quietly, and as acceptingly as possible she then asked her son “do you know what masturbation is?” Her fear was that if she didn’t know exactly what his knowledge was, she might start talking too much or possibly not enough about it. He then described in detail what it was and how it’s done. Mortified that she had to have this conversation, she said she just burst into an uncontrollable fit of nervous laughter right in front of her son. As she told the story she started laughing and then we ALL started laughing right along with her. This was one of the funniest moments about a real event I’ve encountered in a long time.
Finally, after we got ourselves together, she told us what she said. She first asked her son if he was as nervous about asking her as she was. He said he wasn’t and she told him the laughing was some goofy parent thing she does. She then proceeded to say “do YOU think you should masturbate and if so could you tell me why?” He told his mom the thought randomly crossed his mind and he didn’t have a real “feeling” that he wanted to but just wondered what it would be like. She told him how people usually do this to relieve an urge for sexual desire and asked if he felt he needed or wanted to have sex at that time. He responded he didn’t have any “desire” to do it at that moment and hadn’t planned to anytime in the near future. Knowing that idea could change at any time based on circumstances, she said she wanted him to think about a few things. Sometimes things you try once can become habits. Habits aren’t always easy to break and some habits lead to other habits.
There are good habits and habits that aren’t healthy for you. There are also habits we need to be mature enough to handle because they come with consequences. Sex comes with consequences even when it is just with yourself if you’re not careful. Having sex can be beautiful between a committed couple, but there are things like unplanned pregnancies, diseases and they emotional attachments to people who mean you no good when you do it just to do it. With yourself, you can get so used to doing your own thing regularly, when the right person comes along it can sometimes make it harder for you to get into them. She told him to think a lot about whether or not he was ready for the things that came with masturbating if he tried it and how it could become a habit. She also told him it didn’t make him a bad person if that’s what he chose to do but to remember that is his personal decision and not something he needs to go broadcasting to the world about even though there are lots of people who do it. She also followed up with reminding him should he ever decide he wants to have sex to make sure he considers all the things they’ve talked about and to use protection no matter what.
Now….do you honestly think he was happy with the response? Well, he was happy that she didn’t yell at him but more importantly he was happy he could talk to his mom. He then looked at her and said “I don’t really want to do that right now, I was just wondering what you’d say.” Once again we all laughed because we know kids sometimes just get curious, but it is that same curiosity that if unchecked can get them in trouble. This mom said she immediately called her brother to come by and hang out with her son for a day just to make sure he was ok.
My call to action to all parents is to be receptive to your kids no matter what they tell you. One day you may need them to tell you something important and based on past reactions they may be too afraid to.
Photo: Orin Zebest/Flickr