OMG, did he really ask about that? Yep, it happens. Here’s how to deal when your kid asks a question about sex that you'd rather ignore.
It ranks right up there as one of the most mortifying moments of parenthood—when your 7-year-old innocently asks a sex question. Especially if it's about your sex life. While you might be tempted to shout, “Look, a pink pony!” and run the other way, it’s best to stay calm and remain as straight-faced—and straightforward—as possible, says Stacy Friedman, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach in Lake Worth, Florida.
“I believe in being open about sex and educating kids according to what they’re comfortable hearing and what they want to know,” she says. “It should always feel like a subject that’s safe to be discussed.”
Still, it’s not always easy to know what to say when your daughter walks into the kitchen with your vibrator in hand. To that end, here are five embarrassing sex questions your kids might ask and how to handle each one without feeing too mortified.
Why were you and dad making those loud noises last night?
If your house has thin walls, your kids are eventually going to overhear something. Reply with an answer that conveys something positive, says Dr. Stacy. “It’s a good opportunity to say that you were ‘enjoying private time with dad where we cuddle, laugh and love each other,’” she says. “It’s important for kids to understand that just like they need their time to themselves, so does mom and dad.”
What is this? (said while holding a sex toy she found in your night table)
You thought you’d hidden that vibrator far away from prying eyes, but then your daughter goes looking for the nail-polish remover and…oops. Take a deep breath and stay calm, because you don’t want your child thinking he or she did something wrong. “At the same time you want your kid to know that the toy is for grown-ups,” Dr. Stacy says. “You can tell your child that it’s a tool you use for massage or that ‘it’s an adult toy just like you have their own kid toys’ and then change the subject. The less of a big deal you make, the less of a reaction you will get.”
People only have sex to have babies, right?
Your kids may honestly think that if you've told them there are no more little brothers or sisters planned, you’ve closed up shop for good. But honesty is important when it comes to talking to your kid about sex, Dr. Stacy says. “When answering this question, I suggest you give a minimal answer such as ‘Sex is meant to be enjoyable and can be shared in a fun and loving way in addition to making babies,’ and then ask if you answered his or her question,” she says. “If your child wants more info, give a longer explanation but always watch his or her body language or reactions—your kids will let you know when enough information is enough and you want to do your best to follow their lead.”
Did you have sex with anyone else before you met dad?
As your kids get a little older and are working their way through the messages about sex they’re getting in the media and from peers, they may want to know more about your family values. The way you answer this question is about as personal a decision as there is. “I believe it’s important that kids know that you are able to care for and trust more than one person in your life, and that you once felt connected to someone other than their dad,” Dr. Stacy says. “They can know that sex is enjoyable and can happen with other people, but they should also be assured that their dad was your favorite—you fell in love and wanted to have a family with him.”
Does sex hurt?
Your goal is to educate honestly and without fear, Dr. Stacy says, especially if this question is from your teenage daughter, who may be contemplating what her first time will be like. Therefore, she advises compassionate honesty: “Yes, sometimes it can hurt the first time, but when you are in a loving relationship, sex can be really wonderful.”