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Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Can My Partner and I Have Sex Without Traumatizing Our Toddler?

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With my toddler starting to walk soon, he is going to have an increasing amount of freedom about the household, and pretty soon my husband and I are going to have to hide sex. What are your recommendations for how parents can have sex without getting caught in the act and traumatizing their children?

To answer this question, I turned to Lucky Tomaszek, our education coordinator at the Tool Shed, parent of three children and a trained childbirth educator and midwife. Lucky and I have taught many classes together about raising sexually healthy children, so I knew she would have good advice on this topic. Her response is as follows:

It's exciting to be a parent of a toddler, with their new mobility and endless curiosity. Your worries about "getting caught" by your kids are common; almost all parents express anxiety about the day when their child(ren) discover that their parents are sexual beings.

However, I believe it's important that we don't "hide sex" from our kids. I don't advocate putting on any sort of an exhibition for them, of course. As a human, you are several things. One of them is a parent, and one of them is a sexual being. There's nothing wrong with your child understanding that from an early age. It lays the groundwork for him to accept that he is also a sexual being without the guilt and shame that seems to be de rigueur in our culture. 

At some point, your child will discover you in the act. It's practically inevitable. I suggest that you decide now how you'll handle it. Many parents, when unprepared, respond with embarrassment that comes off as anger. Write yourselves a little script and memorize it. It's important that it be positive, and that you emphasize the normalcy of the act. "Dad and I are just having some grown-up time. We'll be right with you." When you re-join your child, there's no need to explain anything or to act ashamed. This will leave your child with the impression that nothing is amiss—which is appropriate, because you've done nothing wrong.

To answer your question about discretely managing your sex life, I have a few suggestions. If you're currently bed-sharing with your child, move sexy time out of the bedroom after he/she is asleep. Most homes have several rooms that are suitable for a romantic interlude. The living room offers some open floor space, a sofa or a few chairs. The kitchen has counter tops, table tops and maybe even a breakfast bar. If you've got a guest room or family room, you can likely find a play space for yourself with a door that closes.

If you're not bed-sharing, you just need to make sure your little one has dozed off before you begin. A late afternoon trip to the park, followed by a warm bath before bed is usually enough to wear a child out pretty thoroughly. 

You don't have to limit your adventures to after dark, either. You can take advantage of naptime or a short trip with grandma or a trusted sitter. Let the limitations on your time alone inspire you. You have the ability to make your love life as hot and sneaky now as it was when you were a teenager. Live it up!

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.