A Teachable Moment
It’s the stuff of sitcoms and movies. Somebody’s looking for a flashlight and discovers mama’s vibrator in the nightstand. Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.
If you are an adult with a libido, it’s likely you have some pleasure objects in the house that you would rather be for your eyes only. Unless you’re perfect or have a locked space for said pleasure objects, it shouldn’t be surprising if curious little eyes and hands eventually find them.
What’s a mama to do or say when you encounter your adorable kiddo standing with your bright pink vibrator in extended hands asking with wonder, “Mama, what is this?”
Answering this question starts with your ability to be in a place of accepting your child’s curiosity as worthy of an honest and unembarrassed answer. A spontaneous reaction of just snatching your toy away or dodging the question by making something up doesn’t honor their innocent curiosity that is an integral part of their learning.
Rehearsing in your mind answering your kiddo’s questions about sexuality allows you to process any emotions or hang ups that come up for you before you actually have to face them. It is okay to be dealing with your own issues around sexuality as you prepare to share knowledge with your children. The best case is to process your challenges in advance so when you are sharing information you can focus on the facts and your child’s questions and emotional response.
The angle I feel strongly about employing when discussing sexuality with my kiddos is that sexuality and its expression are an integral part of a holistically healthy life. Simply, sexual pleasure isn’t just fun, it keeps you healthy. Just as I feel it is important to model healthy eating, exercising, reading and learning, I feel it is important to model that sexual pleasure, regardless of partnership status, is simply part of a healthy life.
My response to a kiddo asking about a pleasure object would have two points: First, describe what it is and does. And second, reinforce that enjoying sexual pleasure is simply important to staying healthy.
Knowing that the questions could stop at anytime, but curious little ones are likely to ask more rather than fewer, how about a hypothetical conversation?
Kiddo: “Mama, what is this thing? (Holding whatever toy they happened across.)
Mama: “Oh, that’s mine and it’s called a vibrator. It is a toy for adults.
Kiddo: (Said with delight) “Adults have toys too? What does it do?
Mama: “Well, it buzzes and vibrates.
Kiddo: “So what do you do with it?
Mama: “It feels good when it vibrates against your body. You use it to relax and feel good.
Kiddo: “Like against your belly? Or where?
Mama: “Sure. Or wherever else it might feel especially good to you. (If the questions continue, you may offer¦) “¦your privates (or penis, vagina, et cetera).
Often if you get to this point in the conversation, the questions are an excellent segue into discussion of self-pleasuring. If you have already had that discussion, it is simple to say…
Mama: “You know how we talked about when you touch your body (penis, vagina, et cetera) when you are in a private, comfortable place and it feels good and it is part of staying healthy and happy. Well, this toy is made especially for adults for that.
Another aspect to discuss may be reciprocal privacy. You might address that just as your child has privacy in a bedroom, bathroom or a room with the door closed, you expect that same respect, including regarding your things. This may perhaps head off the “What Are Adult Toys For Discussion, Part Two.
Where you take it from here is up to you. Giving honest, accurate information that is developmentally appropriate and simply answers their questions is all you need to do.
After you’ve done that important parental duty, you might also want to come up with another secret place for your pleasure objects. Of course, you can also just embrace the experience for what it is: a teachable moment.