Q: Our preschooler recently walked in on us while we were having sex. Should we be concerned this will have any negative long-term effects on him? I tried to cover up as best I could, but I could tell he was upset. I’m feeling very guilty about this.
A: Other parents who’ve experienced the panic of ”children interrupt us”, and have since installed locks on their bedroom doors, know just how you feel. But you don’t need to be overly concerned about what your son witnessed. He may have been a bit confused by what he saw, but if he hasn’t brought it up since, we doubt that the incident has caused any long-term damage.
There’s no reason for you to feel guilty about this. Sex is an important element of marriage and a normal part of family life. When you’re a parent, things like this can happen from time to time, and it’s best to take it in stride and move on.
We’d encourage you, though, to use this incident as a place to begin talking about sex and sexuality with your son. Approach this as a life-long learning process, not a one-time “birds and bees” discussion. As a preschooler, he’s old enough to understand some basic concepts about human sexuality, provided they’re presented in age-appropriate language. At the most basic level, he needs to know that sexuality is not something scary and shameful, but a wonderful gift from God, designed to be expressed between a husband and wife.
Among other things, this may help you resolve your feelings of guilt. It will also go a long way toward helping him clear up any remaining confusion over what he saw.
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