You Put What Where?!

Talking to My Kids About Masturbation

Nothing can quite prepare you for talking to your kids about pleasurable self-touch. Especially when you had never had that talk with your parents. Even more so when you were an only child without any male-bodied kids in your life to know about the penis pulling phase that they go through from birth until…death, I presume?

The Cut released a video this week of parents explaining masturbation and it is literally the conversation I needed to have during my preteens. This video is a great model of how parents can talk to their kids about safe ways to explore self-touch and show them that parents can be a knowledgeable and supportive resource when questions arise.

When my kids come to me with questions like, “Why is my wiener bone so strong?,” and, “What does my penis taste like and why can’t I reach it with my mouth?,” I’ve got to take off my mortified mom hat and put on my big girl sex educator chaps and come with the facts.

“Your penis feels strong because there’s blood rushing to it. Sometimes that’s called an erection.”
“Your penis tastes like all your other skin, and you’re not the only one who has tried to reach it with his mouth, kiddo.”

The last thing I will ever do is shame my kids for safe self-exploration. My masturbation history was filled with that shameful feeling.

How your stomach tightens when you have been caught doing what feels really good and like the greatest secret you’ve ever discovered. I almost gave into the “What are you doing?!” parent shame spiral when my oldest started exploring less “typical” self-touch.

He asked if he could “play with his butt” while he was getting out of a bath. Initially, a lot of negative feelings flashed in front of my eyes.

“BUTT STUFF IS MESSY,” I thought with a shudder. But he was asking me if this pleasurable act he had discovered was acceptable to try, and the answer is OF COURSE!

“As long as you wash your hands after and you are the only one touching your body,” I told him. He quickly dried himself off and announced, “I’m gonna go explore my butt!”

You do you, kid. And, please, wash your hands.

Most education out there for parent to start talking about self-touch is geared toward preteens, and my kids are 4 and 7 going on 14. Books like It’s Perfectly Normal and Sex is a Funny Word will be staples on our bookshelves in a few years, but currently we speak about masturbation simply. Both of the kids know that they can have “private body time” whenever they want, but it has to happen in the bedroom or the bathroom only. And with two boys, body time is all the time.

I want my children to grow up to have healthy, pleasure-centered sex lives. I want them to respect the boundaries of their body by giving them time to find and own their pleasure.

I want my kids to keep asking me questions that make me feel internally uncomfortable because that means they are showing me where I need to grow when it comes to sex-positive parenting.

Kenna Cook is a sex educator and sex-positive parent. Follow her on Twitter.