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I don't want to think about what my son is doing behind that closed door

As a freelance writer I explore parenting, divorce, dating & anything else worth talking about. I'm 50% together, 100% authentic.

Masturbating is totally normal for everyone... but not my son

My friend's eldest son is four years older than mine. We both tell it like it is, so I look to her for what’s coming next. She’s a trove of information, or was — until her boy entered puberty, and she entered denial.

She was firm that her husband was the only man-child in their home. “Nothing's going on with him yet. He must be on the later end.” She happily ignored his physical growth, likely intimate interactions with teenage girls, and she was certain he was not masturbating. It seemed to me probable that these things were happening, but what did I know?

Now that my son is 12-1/2, I know what she knew. It seems my son is following hers. Actually, it seems I am following her. “No sexual maturation and definitely no jerking off are happening in my home."

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While I don’t usually shy away from observing and discussing that which is in front of me, this I avoid at all costs. My fiancé and most other men I have asked agree that by the time they had enjoyed a year or two in double digits, they had enjoyed a night or two with themselves.

I’m not searching, but as a single mom and the sole parent in our house half the time, anything can happen on my watch, so it’s best to be on the lookout. I don’t happen upon any locked or even closed bedroom doors. As of yet, there’s been no unusual evidence in the hamper, no extremely long showers, and time to time when I peek my head into the bathroom to discuss dinner, it’s been fine. According to my friends, none of their sons are doing it either. Nope, nothing, nada, not our boys.

They are getting close to surpassing us in height, they need new clothes and shoes monthly, they stink, and while many of their faces are still lovably smooth, there is some actual hair under some arms. Which makes it all the more curious that we are all confident in our assertions that nothing is going on between the sheets. Or in the shower. Or anywhere else we don’t want to think about.

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According to statistics from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, nearly three-quarters of boys ages 14 to 17 report to having ever masturbated. And a national probability sample of men ages 14 to 94 reported in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010 showed that of males ages 14 to 15, 42.9 percent masturbated in the past month and 62.1 percent of males ages 14 to 15 masturbated in the past year.

A fiancé, statistics and my very own tween changing weekly in front of me at the kitchen table are all screaming the truth in my face. As a 41-year-old woman, I know masturbation to be a healthy part of life and sexuality. I would view it as a positive, normal and expected step in both my children’s maturity when it comes. But clearly I have a problem accepting, right now, that which is positive, normal and expected with my son. Why? If I don’t usually shy away from the awkward with my kids, if I’ve already faced sex talks with success, what am I (and all my friends) so afraid of?

More: Parents share their awkward stories of learning their kids are having sex

It’s not the act of wanking off. Brits usually sound much classier than Americans, guess not always. I’m reluctant for my firstborn to take a big no-turning-back step into maturity. Little boys playing with their genetic natural toy is funny — “Look, Mom. I made it big.” Very young girls discovering that a touch here and there feels good is natural and harmless. Put a maturing teen together with his maturing body, and it’s no longer harmless; it’s very real and very serious.

Sex, love, disease, pregnancy, heartache, rape, sexual assault, breakups and makeups, peer pressure, porn and all the rest are part of adult life. I’m not ready for him to turn that corner. I like that his biggest problem is when we fight over bedtime and another bowl of ice cream. Small kids, small penises, small problems. Big kids, big problems, penises and more.

A heart-to-heart on jerking off isn’t my most desired evening activity, but I can handle it. I’m not avoiding it because I’m squeamish. I’m burying my head in the sand because this next phase is going to be a battlefield for the both of us, and I want to hold on to every last bit of sweet childhood that I can for as long as I can.

That’s something my fiancé, friends and I can all agree on.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

Masturbating is totally normal for everyone... but not my son
Image: SheKnows

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