Dear Dr. J.
I walked into my 13-year-old daughter’s room and found her “playing” with herself. Is this normal for girls? I thought only boys did that, I was shocked and she was embarrassed. How do I make her stop?
Signed, Girls just want to have fun.
It is every parent’s nightmare that at some point they will walk in on their teenager exploring their body. We are much more accustomed to having this experience with our male children, than we are with our female children. We need to remember that it is natural and normal for children of any age or gender to touch themselves in a manner that gives them pleasure. This may include them having a desire to masturbate, or simply exploring what feels good to them.
For some parents this can be a taboo subject, and having conversations around sexual pleasure and masturbation can be difficult to navigate. The thought of children pleasuring themselves can feel a bit weird for us to discuss. In most instances, your child is probably more embarrassed than you are that you walked in on them. If the situation is approached as you “caught” them self-pleasuring, it implies that what they were doing is wrong, when in fact it is a completely natural act.
Instead, try approaching this as an opportunity to advance conversations that you may already be having related to sexual health, or realize that it is time to start having them. There is no perfect age to have these conversations, and it shouldn’t be a one-time event. Parents should create a safe and welcoming environment for their adolescents to feel safe talking to them about their feelings, thoughts and experiences. Parents don’t need to be an expert on everything, but they can be a great resource to find experts on topics outside of their comfort level.
As we normalize having conversations related to sexual health with adolescents and emerging adults, it can help us to become more comfortable communicating about such sensitive subjects. This should include proper terminology for body parts, body functions and of course be age appropriate and medically accurate. These discussions allow us the opportunity to share facts, family values and cultural norms, but also allow our children the opportunity to bring up any questions that they may have. The more factual information we share with our young people now, the better prepared they will be to actively advocate for themselves in the future.
So, if you find yourself walking into a party for one, simply excuse yourself and when the time is right, have more open dialogue about the incident. Depending upon the age, it may be time to implement a knock first rule, or at least announcing yourself as you enter. These can be awkward times for parents and children alike. Engaging in shame-free, sex-positive conversations can provide chances for more meaningful dialogue, and more honest conversations.
Peace, love and orgasms,
Column Disclaimer for Readers
The information contained in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. The information contained in this column is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. While the professional does address sexual health issues, the information provided in this column is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation. The views and opinions expressed in Dear Dr. J. are of the author, and not necessarily those of Elite News.
Dear Dr. J. is powered by Abounding Prosperity, Inc.