When the kids walk in while you’re at it
It happens. You thought you closed, even locked, the door.
But things get spontaneous and the heat takes over.
About seven minutes into the act, you suddenly hear a burst through the door by your five-year-old.
And voila, you now have a situation on your hands.
There are few moments in your intimate life that are as awkward and that inhibit sexual desire more than the fear of getting caught in the act by your child.
It’s not just awkward for you and your spouse, but for the child as well.
The age of the child will determine the level of awkwardness and how you deal with the situation.
If you are as conservative as us, you would find creative ways to try to deflate the tension, like “mommy’s giving daddy a massage”, “we’re playing Naked Statue”; or “mommy and daddy are doing yoga”.
You could get even more creative.
“We’d just finished taking a shower and mommy was getting something out of daddy’s eye”, or, “mommy and daddy are playing wrestling”.
But if you’re really as conservative as us, you’d be even more cautious by first ensuring the door is locked and the bedside CD player on.
However, we’re too boring for you.
You’re more adventurous and spontaneous in a manner that causes you to be completely oblivious to your surroundings than us.
Now you’re keen on the solution.
The birds and the bees
The most important thing is to stay calm and not scream at your child.
The more we treat sex like it’s an illicit, dirty thing, the more it will drive kids towards perverse acts later.
The key to managing this moment is to collect yourself before you say something.
You can breathe into a paper bag afterwards.
You could tell your child you’re having some private time with each other as adults.
“So if you can please leave and close the door, that would be great.”
It can be as simple as that. Your success will vary with the age of your kid.
A seven-year old will have a more sophisticated understanding of privacy than, say, a four-year old.
However, the best thing to do to minimise chances of being caught is to sit your children down from an early age and talk about privacy and boundaries.
If you’ve never done so and are now caught, this may be a great opportunity.
It is not inappropriate to expect your children to knock on your door and get permission before entering.
It is also good for children to understand that parents need alone time together.
Depending on their age, it may also be a great opportunity to be honest about what they saw, using simple and age-appropriate language.
However, first establish what it is they actually saw and then take it from there.
Also figure out what brought your child into your room.
Were they seeking comfort after waking from a nightmare?
Investigating the dying rhino sounds coming from your room?
Whatever the case, read your kid’s emotions and temper the interaction to that.
We feel it’s important not to teach children anything they will to have to unlearn later.
We suggest telling them something truthful that does not give away a lot of detail.
Remember, your kid’s perspective of what they walked into is vastly different from yours.
They may be confused, frightened or just weirded-out.
They would naturally have questions.
Be the parent in the situation and act adult-like.
If you choose to use that already ruined moment of intimacy to have a talk, then do so.
Kids are naturally curious and you should encourage them to ask follow-up questions.
But you must schedule that press conference after you put on some clothes, and stash away your riding crops, handcuffs and Eyes Wide Shut masks.
Some adults think knowing too much about sex too soon can be harmful for children, but the opposite is true.
Parents who have ongoing conversations about sex and approach it as a fact of life actually prevent future risky behaviour.
Children raised this way often postpone first sexual experiences until they have the maturity needed to handle it well.
People who know how to think about something make more cautious, deliberate and thoughtful decisions.
So, think of your awkward moment now as paying dividends when they are teens later.
The morning after
A toddler will get over what they saw quicker than a pre-teen.
A 14-year-old who came back at an unexpected time from his friends, and caught mom and dad exploring the couch, may have a more difficult time with the incident.
Don’t expect that your teen will want to rehash all the details over coffee and eggs as they may have challenges tolerating the conversation.
Just as it’s embarrassing for you, it’s also embarrassing for them.
A lot of teens will want to try to get the scene out of their minds as quickly as possible.
Therefore, pushing them to talk about their feelings generally will not go well.
You may say, “I wanted to check in with you and see if you were OK.
"I know last night might have been weird for you.
"But if you don’t want to talk about it, I understand.”
And then take things from there.