Last week Oprah had Dr. Laura Bergman on her show to discuss how to talk to your kids about sex. Bergman suggests talking to your daughters about self-stimulation so they know they don’t need someone else for sexual pleasure. She suggests that when your daughter is 14-15-16 that you could buy her a vibrator.
But it is one thing to present masturbation as a positive facet of nature — even as a healthy positive practice — and another to take Madison sex toy shopping.
Aside from the fact that buying your daughter a vibrator without her input and consent is crossing a boundary and is creepy, Dr. Bergman’s suggestion is about a quick-fix. Do you not know how to talk to your kids about sex but feel like you need to? Solution: buy them something! But it is not as easy as a few forced conversations and tossing a vibrator in your teenage’s lap. This approach assumes children are things to be managed rather than emotional and sensitive humans.
Getting the Love you Want by Dr. Harville Hendrix contains a segment about how our natural sexuality is typically discouraged. . He paints a picture of a warm sunny day when Chris, a mother of an 11 month old decided to stop by a friends house. It was a gorgeous day in May and they decided to sit on the porch, drinking iced tea. Because it was such a pleasant day, Chris took the child’s clothes off to let him sunbathe and fully soak the afternoon. After crawling around on the porch, he got hungry. As she fed him from her breast, the baby got a miniature erection from the wonderful sensation of feeding and instinctively grabbed his penis.
Unlike most mothers Chris did not slap her child’s hand away, she allowed him to have this encounter, feeling the warmth of the sun, the satisfaction of the milk and sensations of his body all at once, all natural, sensuous feelings the child should be allowed to experience. The truth is, teaching a child about his or her sexuality and their ability to self-stimulate and enjoy their own bodies begins well over a decade before Dr. Bergman’s recommendation.
I think the key is to have an open and honest household that encourages curiosity while developing boundaries between the parents and children. In this home you might not even need to even have scheduled talks about sex, as your children will come to you and ask if and when they need to.
As far as the masturbation talks goes, this “sit down, I want to talk to you about masturbation” technique is unnatural and only temporarily eases the parent’s anxiety, erasing the child’s preferences completely. Do you have fond memories of being sat down to get “the talk?” All I can recall is fear, anxiety and dissociation.
In a sex positive, open and honest household where children are free to discover their bodies without shame or punishment it would seem that masturbation is a natural and personal discovery. Isn’t that precisely what it should be? Quick fixes won’t help your teenagers develop positive relationships with their bodies. By age 14, 15, 16 sexuality is a personal issue. Your child has a sex life and aside from answering questions and providing resources you should in no way be putting your self in it.