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What to do if (and when) your kid walks in on you

I was a 15 year old peer HIV/AIDS Educator who became a professional sexologist, sexuality educator, and author. I live in NYC with my husband, son, and daughter.

The likelihood is that it can (and just may) happen at some point in your life. So prepare accordingly.

parents talking with son and daughter in bed

Photo credit: Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images

In honor of mothers (and fathers) around the world, I feel like tackling a question that comes up a lot in my work. “What happens if my kids walk in on us having sex?” And it’s not just something that I see in my practice; 17 percent of moms in SheKnows’ "Secret Life of Moms" survey have admitted to being interrupted while in the throes of passion. So while that may seem mortifying, the likelihood is that it can (and just may) happen at some point in your life. So prepare accordingly.

Don’t panic. You really don’t know what they saw (or heard). (Yes, I’ve been walked in on. My kid didn’t bat an eyelash; she just wanted breakfast.)

If your kid freaks out, ask her what she thinks she saw (or heard). If you are moaning in pleasure (and hopefully you are), kids may think that you are being hurt or injured. That could be scary for them. If that is what they are experiencing, tell them that there was nothing painful or bad going on and that sometimes when something feels good, people can make strange sounds. Think about the sounds we (and our kids) make when we’ve been "holding it in" and finally go to the bathroom.

Use this opportunity to teach your children about respecting the closed door. Yes, it is a great lesson for everyone. You need to knock first. (And I can assure you, if your teenager walks in on you, he or she will never open your door without knocking ever again.)

If your child (prior to puberty) asks, "What were you doing?" (and he may not ask this question until days later; you never know when this is going to come back up) try replying this way: "Mommy and Daddy (or Mommy and Mommy) were sharing some special alone time. We love each other and this is one way grownups show their feelings for each other." You don’t need to be explicit about the specifics, but kids should know that physical intimacy and affection is a healthy part of a relationship. (If your children are closer to pubescence, they most likely know what you were doing.)

And if your super-savvy kid says, "Were you guys having sex?" you can just say, "Yes." They’ll be fine; I promise. (I posed this situation to my 9-year-old son. I asked him how he would respond. He said: "OK, then I would just probably ask you if you needed privacy.")

So there it is. Feel free to go about your business.

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