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I’m talking about your kids walking in on you.
Because if you’re walked in on by your in-laws who are visiting or your son’s college roommate who came home with him for Thanksgiving, well… they all need a refresher course in Boundaries 101.
(Unless, of course, you’re having sex in the middle of the living room late at night when you have house guests – if that’s the scenario, then you need a refresher course in Discretion 101.)
For the vast majority of us in the United States (and several other industrialized countries), we have ample access to privacy.
This whole “kids walking in on us during sex” fiasco could be avoided by simply putting a lock on your bedroom door.
You don’t need a deadbolt or something reminiscent of Fort Knox.
Just a simple handle with a lock or a simple slide lock will do. This handy dandy contraption is available at your friendly neighborhood hardware store or at one of those huge home improvement stores.
Seriously, shouldn’t a lock come standard with the dismissal package they give you when you leave the hospital with your first child?
“Yes, here’s your week’s supply of diapers. The little bulb sucker to clear out your newborn’s nose. Your infant thermometer. And a lock for your bedroom door. We’re not sure about that bulb sucker, but you’re definitely going to need that lock. Bye bye now. Have fun!”
I can hear some of you saying, “But I don’t want barriers between me and my kids. Locks are so barbaric. They send a message that I’m not available.”
To which I say… You aren’t available when you are having sex with your spouse.
…unless the house is burning down (which, let’s face it — it never is. Do you know anyone who was having sex when their house caught on fire? Me neither.)
…or the child truly is in need. (The definition of “need” really starts to narrow in circumstances like these, don’t you think?!).
I have been a parent long enough to know that eventually, a small child with a wee little voice (or an abrupt opening of the door) is going to thwart the best laid plans (Best. Laid. Plans. Like how I worked that in?)
Even though we have a lock on our bedroom door, our younger son has interrupted us when we are having sex. (His timing is impeccable. I swear he is the savant of sex interruption).
If we are interrupted by a knock, we have no reason to worry (have I made my case for locks by now?)
Even in those intense moments, I am of sound enough mind to throw on some sweats and tend to our child — and then usher him right back to his bed. (Hey, I can hardly be resentful. After all, I know sex will be waiting for me when I return).
If you don’t have a lock or you forgot to use it and your child does indeed walk in on you during sex, here’s what you do:
1. Don’t panic.
Simply stop what you are doing, cover your body, and ask the child what he or she needs.
If the child is young, trust me — they are selfish little creatures and will be oblivious to the fact that you could have been doing anything that would satisfy one of your needs or desires. They don’t even know that you exist apart from catering to their needs and desires.
So as you can see, panicking at this moment is really pointless.
2. Don’t act ashamed.
Sure, you may feel mortified or embarrassed at first, but the truth — the truth — is that there is nothing wrong with a husband and wife having sex.
No, you don’t want to purposely allow your children to see you having sex, but you can speak to it in an age appropriate way, especially if the child asks what you were doing or seems caught off guard.
You can say, “Mommy and daddy were just spending some time alone together. Mommies and Daddies like to do that at times.”
Then redirect the conversation back to the matter at hand. “What do you need, my dear child?”
3. Do set firm boundaries.
Preschool children and older can understand, “If mommy and daddy’s door is shut, please knock first.” This is a good boundary to establish (and lovingly remind them of often), long before you are getting crazy beneath the sheets.
Whether a child knocks or walks in when you are having sex, if their need is not serious, tend to it quickly and send them (or put them) back in their own bedroom.
The last thing you want to do is draw the process out, because children are crafty.
I love my kids just as much as you love yours, but I’m convinced they all have a sixth sense for this sort of thing — if they can turn a simple request for a drink of water into a 30-minute “rub my back and cuddle with me so I can fall asleep” — well, they will.
Don’t do it. Stay strong.
You have sex waiting for you in your bedroom.
Firm boundaries. Quick response. Clear expectation that the child is going back to bed (after the drink of water, the reassurance about the bad dream, the trip to the bathroom to pee, etc).
And I know I may be digressing here, but why can’t they get their own drink of water? Do they really need you for this? The same child who emphatically insists on tying his own shoes 1 minute before you walk out the door in the morning suddenly can’t work a faucet at midnight? What?!
(If the need is serious, your sexual escapade is probably over for the night. But these serious needs are the exception, not the rule).
4. Remember that you have just gathered good material for comedic relief later.
I know in that moment that your child walks in on you having sex, it doesn’t seem so funny. But years down the road, it likely will be an easy way to inject humor into a conversation.
This is especially true if you are building a marriage where sexual intimacy is valued and nurtured (if you can laugh with each other in that moment of interruption, that’s even better!).
I’ve often said that it is good for kids to know (age appropriately of course) that their parents have sex. They don’t need the details or need to see you having sex.
But if you can help your kids embrace a positive perspective on sexual intimacy in marriage, you are honoring God — and you are setting those kiddos on a good course for nurtured intimacy in their future marriages.
For those of you who are afraid you have scarred your child for life because he or she inadvertently caught a glimpse of you having sex, please relax. Your kids are fine.
You just need to go buy a lock.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.