All is quiet in the house, everyone is in bed, and you have some reserve energy left over to spend with your spouse. These times may be few and far between, and you decide to take advantage of the opportunity to be intimate with each other. Then… in the heat of the moment… the door opens to your room and you have an unexpected visitor. This can be one of the most mortifying experiences of your relationship.
Your first response will likely be to panic, run and hide, or make up some wild story. Try to avoid this urge. It is best to leave the conversation for the next morning when everyone is dressed and had time to calm down and think about what happened and what to say or ask.
1. Importance of privacy—Once kids are old enough to get out of their bed in the middle of the night, you never know when and where they will show up. It is important that children of all ages learn that privacy can be important and that they should knock on a closed door before entering. This is important to respect anyone’s privacy. Also, parents can avoid this awkward situation by installing a locking bedroom doorknob. This can provide more peace of mind during sex and lead to greater intimacy with your partner. It is important to ensure your own privacy.
2. Avoid details—When having this discussion the morning after, first try to assess what was actually seen or understood. Allow them to lead the dialog with their own questions. And when answering, use plain language and be as matter-of-fact as possible. It is very easy to give too much information. This can create more questions than it answers and lead the child to be confused or even scared. This is not the time to introduce new concepts and terminology.
3. Show affection—There is no harm in children knowing that parents have a special way of being physically intimate with one another. Demonstrate love and intimacy with your partner openly. It is important for your kids and your partner to be affectionate. Hug, kiss, cuddle, and hold hands freely.
4. Keep the dialog open—You don’t want them to associate sex with shame. It is important for them to understand no one did anything wrong. If you avoid the discussion altogether and pretend like nothing happened, you create the idea that sex is a secret and something to be ashamed of. This can lead to an unhealthy viewpoint. It is important to keep the dialog open.
Children do not do well with secrets, and if you don’t address sensitive issues at home, they will likely come out in very embarrassing and untimely ways. Furthermore, you want them to know they can come to you with questions and concerns about this and every topic.
Reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, March 2020
- Be sure to discuss the importance of privacy with your toddler, including knocking on a closed door before entering.
- Allow your children to lead the dialog with their own questions and answer in plain language.
- Do not avoid the discussion and pretend like nothing happened—that can lead to the notion that sex is a secret.