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My Kids Saw My Sex Video: What Do I Do Now?

One question likely to come up is, "Why were you doing that, Dad?"

A visitor to my website asked today:

"I have two amazing daughters, ages 7 and 6. Yesterday, while using my phone for what I thought was games, the older one came across a video of me masturbating. I am disgusted with myself, as it was meant for my girlfriend. How do I address this with my kids so we don't feel awkward around each other?"

Let's admit this is a mortifying situation for a caring dad who had no intention of sharing his personal sexual activities with his young daughters. This situation brings to mind a quote from Cindy Beal, a sexuality education consultant who said, "It's no secret that I am a sexual being. The ways in which I am sexual are private."

One aspect of this dad's sexuality is no longer private, and while that's awkward, it's not likely to harm his girls. The unfortunate incident can be a teachable moment in sexuality education.

I reached out to parent educator Amy Johnson, MSW, for some words that this dad can use with his girls. She suggested he say, "Wow. That's not something most kids see. I'm so sorry you saw that. It was meant to be private, between two adults, and I will make sure to keep private things private from now on."

She then suggested he say, "Seeing this wasn't your fault, and it's weird, and it's awkward. I want you to know that I'm willing to answer any questions you have now, and always."

One question that's likely to come up is, "Why did you do that, Dad?" This can be answered with, "It's perfectly normal to enjoy touching your genitals, no matter how old you are. And some adults like to share that activity with other adults, and that's OK, too. The problem is that what I meant to be privately shared between two loving adults became not-private. I'm really sorry I wasn't more careful and that you saw the video."

It is important, if there is another parent in the picture, to explain the situation as quickly as possible. This may help prevent misunderstandings about what happened.

Also, parents need to be extremely careful with what they store on their phones, tablets and computers. If you want to get down and dirty with a partner long-distance, use FaceTime or another platform, and don't record the interaction. If you film videos, erase them immediately after sending so your children won't accidentally find them. Think twice about making your phone the family entertainment center. Instead of getting young children their own phones, make games available on a family computer that is never used for sexy time.

As to the importance of parent-child communication about sexuality, understand that the more often parents answer children's questions honestly, the more free children feel to ask questions, to make observations, and to share their concerns. These conversations build trust and emotional closeness. They can also help parents stay apprised of their children's developmental process and social/sexual decision making.

Talking about sexuality can be uncomfortable at first, but think of it like exercising: the more you do it, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Books are available to help prompt conversations, such as Cory Silverberg's What Makes a Baby? and Sex is a Funny Word. Also, Robie H. Harris's It's Not the Stork is an excellent book to keep conversations age-appropriate (Silverberg's books are more diverse in terms of gender, orientation, ability/disability, and means of conception).

My eBook, Sexuality Talking Points, helps parents and caregivers reflect on how and what they learned about sexuality, how they may want to do things differently for their own children, and how to get conversations started.

To the dad who asked this question: I wish you all the best as you manage an awkward situation. I am confident you will handle this with dignity, humility and compassion and that your daughters will appreciate your offer to answer their questions.

More from Melanie Davis MEd, PhD, CSE, CSES
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