The masturbating scenario: You are putting away laundry and walk into your thirteen year old boy or girl’s room, only to catch them in a compromising position. You freeze, drop the laundry, hide your eyes and run from the room.

There are many situations where as parents we must maintain a healthy sense of humor and none more so than handling our own embarrassment and awkwardness over the topic of masturbation. Dealing with your kids entrance into puberty is perhaps one of the more painful parenting hurdles. It is a confusing, hormone laden time for them and can be a tough transition for parents witnessing their yummy little babies shape shifting into moody, stinky adolescents who are discovering their bodies.  

When facing the inevitable reality of our kids masturbating (yes, it pretty much is) we have a few options. A lot of how we react has to do with our own level of comfort around sexuality. Chances are, our parents didn’t know how to deal with it and we don’t have much of a model to stem from. However, we have a few choices in how we react that can either help or really hurt our kid in this scenario.

  1. Alleviate the ferocious embarrassment on both parties by removing yourself from the room. Seriously, just go. Say a quick, “Excuse me,” and walk out.
  2. Understand that it is normal, healthy and perfectly safe for your child to explore sexual pleasure and their own bodies.
  3. Don’t ever shame your kid for masturbation. I cannot emphasize this enough. So much sexual confusion, overwhelm and even perversion stems from feelings of shame around sexuality.
  4. Wait until later and have the conversation. As a parent, understand this is a hugely important opportunity in gaining your kids trust here. Apologize for walking in on their privacy. Emphasize, that it is ok for them to have time to themselves and to masturbate. If you haven’t already, this may be a good opening to talk about sexuality in general.
  5. Make a joke, keep it light and don’t take it too seriously. Your kid will be grateful for a laugh about now.
  6. Let your child know that their feelings are normal and healthy. Ask if they have any questions. They probably are not going to be very communicative. Just showing that you are cool about it will go a long way.
  7. If you have beliefs regarding masturbation as a sin or something dirty, do some soul searching of your own. Where did this come from? When we heal our own wounds, we empower ourselves to be better parents. When we know better we do better.
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