"My Four-Year-Old Is…": Parents, Kids, And Sex-Positivity

I have a new piece up on the Blowfish Blog. It’s a piece of advice written to a parent who wrote me, because their four- year- old daughter was masturbating and they didn’t know how to deal with it. It’s titled “My Four-Year-Old Is…”: Parents, Kids, And Sex-Positivity, and here’s the teaser:

There is nothing even remotely strange about the fact that a four- year- old child is masturbating. That is completely, 100% normal. Extremely common, even. Some children begin touching their genitals as young as three months old. It’s not a sign that she’s been molested, or that she’s seen other people masturbate, or anything else scary or inappropriate. It’s a sign that she’s a healthy child exploring her body. (My earliest memory of masturbating was when I was about 6 or 7; and in that memory, the experience was already familiar, something I’d been doing for a while.)

And IMO, there’s nothing strange about the fact that she gets mad when you try to stop her. I mean, if someone in a position of great power and authority over me tried to stop me from masturbating, I’d get freaked out angry, too.

It seems to me that your problem isn’t that your child is masturbating. It’s that she’s masturbating in front of you, and possibly in front of other people, in ways that makes those people (including you) uncomfortable.

So let’s deal with that problem.

To find out how I propose dealing with that problem, read the rest of the piece. (And if you decide to post comments here, please consider cross-posting them to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

"My Four-Year-Old Is…": Parents, Kids, And Sex-Positivity

4 thoughts on “"My Four-Year-Old Is…": Parents, Kids, And Sex-Positivity

  1. 1

    But even more important is the fact that there most likely NO MASTERBATING going on. At very young ages it is just exploring your body and its parts. Most parent are raised in a warped environment so think ‘touching and exploring’ = masturbating. Anyone with a brain bigger then a walnut can tell the difference between the two.
    But lets grant the masturbation, its only 4!!! There is nothing really ‘wrong’ with it except in a social sense so you teach it not to do so in public, like picking your nose or scratching your ass (unless you are a baseball player then ass scratching and patting is OK). Knowing your other blog posts that probably what you said in the ‘read rest…’section. I love your posts because you usually bring up stuff that most everyone knows about or does but will not discuss. Great work!

  2. 2

    My sons (4 and 5) play with themselves, too. We tell them “that’s OK when you’re at home”. Sometimes after a bath, we delay putting their jammies on, just to give them a chance to explore their own bodies.

  3. 3

    My mother told me once that she caught me massaging my scrotum when I was young (I have no memory of that event). She asked me what I was doing, and I told her: “I am looking at this old skin I have”.
    She laughed.

  4. 4

    I remember one episode of House, where he had to tell a mother that there was nothing wrong with her very young (pre-school to kindergarten aged)daughter, that when she was making sounds in bed she was masturbating.
    This was at college, and my roommate squealed out in horror and disgust over that. I said it wasn’t really unusual. The way I remember it, though, her horror seemed to be more over the idea of a little girl masturbating, as if “boys will be boys”, but girls are supposed to be all sugar and spice and everything nice. I don’t think my roommate even believed it happens in real life–that little girls JUST DON’T DO THAT–until I told her point blank that I had been “one of those”. Then she seemed to consider it and conceded the point–I told you she was liberal-minded
    She was actually quite liberal about everything, including sex, but that wasn’t the first time I’d heard the “women have no sex drives” line. I first heard it from my mom when I was nineteen, who insisted that women just didn’t get turned on, especially not visually (more that she didn’t get turned on visually, and so if she doesn’t then no woman does–pure arrogance, if you ask me). I told her that I did get visually turned on, and she, in an effort to silence the stupid virgin, said, “so you get wet?” (heavy emphasis on “wet” for added disgust/shame). I replied without missing a beat, “Yes.” So she got flustered into silence instead.
    Honestly, of course I know what happens when a woman gets turned on! How do you think women stop being virgins? Oh, I forgot…women are just supposed to passively lie on their backs for whichever male creature can present her with the largest shiny pebble. I get it now. >:(
    Maybe I haven’t been around enough, but every time someone is freaked out about childhood masturbation, it seems to be a female child in question. It’s like we’re so comfortable with male sexuality that it barely gets a nod, but female sexuality? BRRRR!!! Don’t SAY that!

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