Parents Talk: She Caught Us Having Sex. Now What?

In this week's installment of Parents Talk, we hear from a parent whose daughter caught her and her husband having sex. How does she explain that?

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This week's question:

My 7 year-old daughter walked in on my husband and I having sex a couple night's ago and we have no idea how to explain what she saw to her. It was pretty late at night and she was going to the bathroom but accidentally walked into our room. My husband walked her back to her room and tried to tell her that everything was okay but the next morning she still seemed upset.

We have been going round and round trying to come up with good explanations but none seem right. How do you explain to a 7 year-old what sex is? Is this a good time for us to have "the talk?"

Jody Gifford January 09, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I can't even imagine your embarrassment. I would be completely mortified if our kids walked in on us. I'm not sure how much you need to explain about what she saw but I think putting some generic labels on it right now like saying mom and dad were being physically affectionate is sufficient. You might start by asking her what she thinks she saw. She may not have seen as much as you think making the explanation easier. As far as having the talk, I think at age 7, being broad with the explanation is good. I think it's ok to say that sex is something that adults do and that it's a way that they show love for each other. As she gets older, there will be more of a chance to explain the details in a way she will understand.
Oneota January 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I think kids are a lot tougher than people give them credit for. Be honest, don't make it sound like she did anything wrong or that you were doing anything wrong, and move on. It's only a big deal if you make it a big deal, IMO.
Shelly Reed Thieman January 17, 2012 at 03:05 PM
A 3-year-old might wonder if anyone was being hurt (based on the sounds and actions), so it's a good idea to reassure him. A 5-year-old is likely to be quite the scientist and try to get as close as possible--while going undiscovered--to figure out exactly what is happening. (Offer some information to "the scientist" and this should suffice.) An 8-year-old may have hit the "cooties" stage and think that it's weird that anyone would ever want to do that. A 12-year-old is likely to be "grossed out" and turn on his heel because his parents were having sex! Parents who get caught fooling around need to understand that kids process information about sex--everything from what their friends discuss with them to what their parents do--gradually and incrementally. The importance is open communication, not the uncomfortable silence.


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