Are You a Masturbation Educator?

Teaching your child about masturbation

Posted Oct 04, 2011

Okay, think what you want about the title of this blog, but exactly how much time have you spent through your parenting years talking to your child about masturbation? Take a moment and think about my question. In what is arguably the most engaged in sexual activity the world over, do we as parents spend any real quality time exploring with our children the role masturbation plays in our son or daughter's life? I mean, there is no other sexual behavior that I know of that begins as early in life and extends up until the moment it all ends, that is as accessible and easy to engage in, and is as risk-free from harm and disease as is the act of self-stimulation, "choking the chicken", "beating the beaver"...masturbation. And yet, there is probably no other form of sexual behavior that has been as misunderstood, caused more moral, ethical, and religious discomfort, and been more roundly avoided in conversation than the one most actively practiced.


So what's your answer to my question? My guess is you have had occasion when your child was very young to actually witness your child playing with his or her genitals. Not long after birth our kids typically find their genitals and once they've found them they tend not to forget them. Little boys, not surprisingly, usually find their penis a lot sooner than girl's find their vulva or clitoris. Makes sense right? Boy's genitals are outside the body and girls are inside, but girls do catch up at some point. I mean young kids pretty much love to touch them, stroke them, pull on them, and rub them. As parents, our early observation of our children's genital play affords us our first opportunity to convey a message to them about our thoughts on masturbation. Did you just let the matter go and not interrupt your child's touching, did you move your child's hands away, did you convey a sense of acceptance or disapproval?


Perhaps it was when your six year old son was masturbating on the couch just as you were hosting a cocktail party for your friends. I mean how many times have you spoken to him about not masturbating on the couch? You've told him many times that it's okay to masturbate but it's a private behavior and should only be done in the bedroom (remember a bathroom can be public). So it's clear to you it's literally getting out of hand; no pun intended! But no one ever told you that most kids learn a sense of sexual modesty by age eight so you're certain he's never gonna learn to control the behavior and you're convinced he'll still be doing it in front of others even when he turns twenty. So you lose it, yell at him, and tell him to get up to his room. If only someone had told you that he's still a little young and you shouldn't worry...he'll learn the whole private/public thing in due time. It probably wouldn't hurt though if the next time you had seen him on the couch NOT playing with his penis to have commended him on his ability to refrain from masturbating while in the living room.


If you have a daughter I would suspect you've had at least one occasion where you've seen her lying on the floor grinding her hips or with a stuffed toy between her legs moving back and forth in a humping motion when she was four, five, or six years of age. You remember don't you? Were you alarmed? Were you concerned? Did you just let it go because you know it's fairly common for little girls to do this sort of thing from time to time? Do you remember the message you sent her about her behavior?


We suspect that most children learn how to masturbate on their own, just by some form of trial and error. A rub here, a stroke there, a yank and a pull by the hand, humping or grinding as in the above case, slow, then fast, and faster...they find their own particular style, technique, and rhythm. And as time goes along they will usually refine their own technique by learning what works best for them. As they grow older some may get some advice from friends and others may view sexually explicit images of masturbation.


But I would suspect that very few if any parents actually take the time to discuss with their child exactly how to masturbate and the various types of touches and movements that could be satisfying and rewarding when one does. How to grip the penis, how fast or slow to stroke, how to touch the clitoris, or how much pressure to apply to parts of the vulva. I know this may sound somewhat strange but looking at the whole thing objectively for a moment, it really isn't any different from teaching your child any other important skill in life. We teach our kids how to eat, brush their teeth, dress themselves, wipe their rear-ends and blow their noses, but not so masturbation. We typically avoid any discussion of masturbation frequency, neglecting to lend an opinion on what we consider appropriate frequency rates and length of time spent on a masturbatory episode. And what about the sort of fantasies our child may develop and utilize as they get older when they masturbate, or the sort of explicit visuals they might turn to as an assistance when they pleasure themselves? How many of us have taken the time to explore with our young teen the images and fantasies that could be used during masturbation? Which ones that could be troubling and disturbing or help them to appreciate that fantasies are just that...fantasies.


And what about the resulting orgasm? Whether you have a very young child or an adolescent that masturbates it is likely that both will experience orgasm. We've known for a while that young children have the capacity to orgasm when they stimulate their genitals. Should parents take any time helping them understand what the orgasm experience is and how their body will react when they have one? I've been asked any number of times by fifth graders what an orgasm is and how to know for sure when one has one. So kids that age seem fairly curious about the whole experience. Think of the sort of answer you might give to a ten or eleven year old. I always think of what it feels like when you have to sneeze but can't. You know what I mean. You have the urge to sneeze but you can't. You keep trying and you can't, and then all of a sudden you sneeze and it feels like your whole body just exploded. You shake, you rattle, and you roll; and what a feeling that long-awaited sneeze just gave you! You know the feeling. Well, if we could make it last 8-10 seconds it would be kind of like an orgasm. You would probably argue the orgasm is always better than a long-awaited sneeze but you get the analogy right? I mean I remember having orgasms when I was a kid from trying to climb the slippery part of the backyard slide or from trying to climb the rope in gym class and not knowing what the hell it was all about. A little talk with dad or my uncle would have been pretty helpful.


There's a fair amount of research now on the overall benefits of masturbation. We know that masturbation helps a child come to learn and understand their own sexual response pattern, helps them to sharpen their body imagery, and might actually heighten a child's sense of self and self-esteem. It helps to reduce tension and stress both psychically and physiologically, and of course helps to enhance eye-hand coordination! We know that it is the most risk free sexual behavior assuming it's not done in public or at the exclusion of other activities of daily living, and can be a phenomenal way of experiencing sexual pleasure and serve as an alternative to mutual sex encounters when needed. Thinking about all this makes me wonder if we shouldn't try and spend a little more time with our kids talking about this most useful of sexual behaviors. Rather than just taking for granted that our kids will learn on their own all there is to know about masturbation, will develop a healthy attitude and stance towards it, and find the proper place for it in their lives, maybe each of us could benefit from becoming more of a masturbation educator.

Just some thoughts on my part.

 

 

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