Wednesday 22 November 2017

David Coleman: Daughter 'disgusted' by catching parents in the act

Caught in the act: a scene that has occurred in many families over the years.
Caught in the act: a scene that has occurred in many families over the years.
David Coleman

David Coleman

I AM a mum in dire need of some advice with regard to my 11-year-old daughter.

In the past two years, she has become very opposed to her father and I showing any affection towards each other.

Things have taken a rapid decline since she has walked in on my husband and I making love on two occasions.

I am so worried about her reactions on both occasions; the disgust, confusion and fear in her eyes was heartbreaking.

After the first time, I spoke to her very openly and explained, in an appropriate manner for her age, that what she saw was mum and dad showing their love for each other in an intimate and caring way.

I explained the basics of sex and how it is an intimate act with a person you love, trust and feel safe and secure with.

The second time I again took my time in a calm and loving way to explain that we were doing nothing wrong. But I am still worried about how she is reacting.


David replies:

IT IS unfortunate that you and your husband were interrupted during sex on those two occasions, but not a bad thing.

It is a scene that has, no doubt, occurred in many families over the years.

It sounds to me like you have adopted a very good approach to explaining about sex and contextualising it in terms of an expression of intimacy in a warm and loving relationship.

What still may be missing in your discussions with your daughter is your recognition and acknowledgement of her actual reaction.

You noticed that she seemed disgusted, confused and afraid upon seeing you and her dad in the act of making love.

While your response was very rational and well meaning, it has also been an attempt to get her to perceive your sexual behaviour and your sexuality from your point of view rather than acknowledging it from hers.

Indeed her growing opposition to seeing you and your husband showing affection over the past couple of years hints at how she was already finding it hard to understand or accept even this expression of your sexuality.

It is, consequently, entirely understandable that it was overwhelming for her to be exposed to the raw power of your, and her dad's, sexuality as you were expressing it during sex.

I think this may be the source of her confusion and her fear. The nature of sex typically involves a feeling of abandonment to the moment by the participants.

The passion, the disinhibition and the freedom she may have witnessed in both of you could also have been very disconcerting for her.

The disgust she seems to have felt is also to be expected. While you and your husband may share a powerful physical attraction, it is highly unlikely (like most of us) that you have film-star bodies, with your love-making only visible from carefully shot angles to maximise your beauty and sensuality.

In practice, sex is often not that pretty to watch. Non-participants can easily experience an "ugghh, that's gross . . ." moment.

So, as an addendum to the conversations you have already had with her, I think that some empathy about how it was probably very surprising, overwhelming and a bit gross for her will help her to feel like you really understand that the whole thing was a big shock to her system – twice!

Then, in preparation for having teenagers in due course (who rarely are asleep before you!), do get into the habit of using some kind of signal on the door indicating that you expect privacy.

Nobody likes to think about their parents 'doing it'. It is often difficult for children or teenagers to be confronted with their parents' sexuality.

A locked door or a bracelet on the door handle may still signpost that you are indeed 'doing it' behind the door, but at least your children can leave it to their imagination rather than have to see you in flagrante.

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