Maintaining an exciting and healthy sex life while being a busy parent can be tricky to navigate. With a hectic work and family life, sex can stop being a priority. There are many things that you can do with your spouse to decompress and get you both in the mood to be intimate. Doing activities together like date nights, cuddling, or using a massage oil or candle can help set the mood and allow you both to decompress after a long busy day.
On a night when the kids are asleep, you and your spouse may find yourself having some extra alone time and decide to get intimate. You are right in the middle of having sex, and your child walks into the room. After possibly scrambling to seem inconspicuous, you may realize you need to have a conversation with your child about what they have just seen.
Having your child walk in on you and your partner having sex can feel awkward and shameful. But there is nothing to be ashamed about! Sex is a part of our lives from birth till death, and it’s only a matter of time before your child learns about sex if they are young. Approaching this situation will be different depending on the age of your child, and it is important to keep the conversation age-appropriate. However, talking to your child about seeing you and your spouse having sex can feel intimidating, so here are some tips for approaching the conversation.
1. Be Vulnerable
Knowing your child walked in on you and your spouse having sex can be an uncomfortable situation. According to marriage and family therapist Mila Wold, starting the conversation with your own vulnerability sets the tone for openness with your children. Naming the situation for what it is, like “So, that was kinda weird huh? How do you feel about it?” or “That made me feel weird when you came in the room, how was it for you?” shows your child that its okay to be uncomfortable, and that you are there to work through it together.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Asking your child open-ended questions about their experience can help you understand what it was like for them and help you meet their needs. Questions like, “What did you see?” or “What was that like for you?” can provide your child with a space to communicate their understanding of the situation.
According to Wold, “Beginning the conversation from a space of curiosity opens the space up for whatever they need to talk about instead of you leading the conversation. Stay away from questions where the answer is yes or no. Any questions that start with ‘what, ‘how’, and ‘when’, are lovely at that moment because they may give you things you didn’t even think of or anticipate that need to be addressed.” This is also where children can express their misunderstanding of the situation, and give you an opportunity to fill in the blanks for them in a way they can understand.
3. Be Age-Appropriate
Younger children will need different information than a teenager in this situation. Often, a teenager may not even want to discuss what happened. It might be a very different conversation depending on the age of your child. With a teenager, this could be an opportunity to discuss privacy.
Saying, “Could you please knock next time you want to come in?” could be a way of communicating that boundary with your teen. Although, approaching the situation with openness and curiosity is a good idea no matter the age of your child. Approaching your teen and asking how they feel about it can be helpful, even if they tell you they don’t want to talk about it. Wold states, “Approaching your child and asking what information they want, and if they want it is key to these conversations.”
4. Contain Your Distress
Although it can be normal to feel some shame, stress, or guilt when your child walks in on you having sex, it is important to contain your distress when approaching your child about the situation. Wold states, “Ask yourself are you feeling weird and awkward about it, or are they? Be sure to separate the two out from each other to ensure you don’t project your discomfort onto your child. Give them enough information for what they are asking. Don’t over-give, because they may not be that curious. If they are, answer all their questions openly and that’s it.”
Talking to your child after they see you and your spouse having sex is an opportunity to discuss sex with your child, and approaching it from a place of shame or distress can distort their perspective on sex. “How you present it and how you talk about it will really set the tone on how awkward and weird your child thinks it is. If you are not weird about it, they won’t be either,” says Wold. This situation could be an opportunity to communicate that sex is a natural and normal part of adult life, and that it is nothing to be ashamed about.