Wednesday, January 19, 2011


By Armin Brott for

You read the kids their bedtime story and put them to sleep a few hours ago, and now you and your girlfriend are enjoying a little adult time together-naked. It's tender, it's wonderful, it feels incredible, but all of a sudden you become aware that you've got an audience. What do you do?

The first step is to deal with it immediately, even if you think the child didn't see much. Even brief exposure to intercourse can be confusing and sometimes harmful to children. Very young kids can misinterpret entangled bodies and moans of pleasure as a fight and worry that someone is getting hurt. Older kids who know something about sex may be put off by the idea that you're a sexual being or may be aroused by what they've seen and take it as encouragement to do some experimenting of their own. They also might get the idea that bringing home a lover is okay for them as well. If your child walks in on you, here's what to do:

Don't get angry. Tell him calmly yet firmly to leave your room, close the door, and go back to his own. Yelling at him could scare him and make him think that what he saw was wrong.

If your child won't go, lead him. And if you scared him off or if he bolted on his own, follow him back to his room.

Reassure your child. When he's is back in his bed, sit by his side and tell him that everything is fine and that no one was hurting anyone else. Mary Mattis, author of Sex and the Single Parent, suggests telling very young children (under 6 or so) that you and your lover were just playing together, and that grownups kiss and hug to be close to each other. But be prepared: Even little kids know a lot more about sex than we did when we were their age and they may not be satisfied with such a short answer.

If she's older than six she might need a more sophisticated answer about what she saw. She probably already knows that sex involves putting a penis inside a vagina and that that's how babies are made. Answer her questions simply and honestly, using the correct terminology. But don't offer any more information than she asks for.

Make sure she knows she can always ask you more later. You may be trying to keep sex a secret from your children, but doing so can inadvertently give them the impression that it's dirty or wrong-precisely the wrong message if you want them to have a healthy attitude about sex when they're older.

Don't act embarrassed or ashamed, even if you are. Kids need to know that having sex is a normal, healthy thing for adults to do. And don't apologize unless you bit your child's head off for walking in on you.

Take some precautions that this won't happen again, such as putting a lock on your door or using the one you have.

Sooth your girlfriend. Your first obligation is to your kids, so you'll need to explain to your lover that you'll be back as soon as you make sure the kids are okay. Don't ask her to leave, and try to convince her to wait for you if she tries to go. When you're through with the kids, the two of you need to talk. She may be freaked out by the whole experience, so discuss what you're both feeling. Really and truly, there's no reason why this little episode should have any impact on your relationship. It might, though, affect her desire to sleep at your house again.

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