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Jun. 12 2009 - 9:33 am | 286 views | 1 recommendation | 9 comments

What happens when kids see their parents having sex?

LaBeouf in Disturbia, 2007

Image via Wikipedia

If the kid is Shia LaBeouf, he grows up to tell Parade magazine all about it (via the Daily News):

“My humor came from seeing my parents have sex, smoke weed, my mom being naked — just weird hippie stuff, twisted R-rated humor.”

I never saw my parents having sex. But one time I heard them. Once I realized what it was — I was maybe about 10 — I was completely, totally grossed out. I wrapped a pillow around my head and resorted to humming to drown out the noise. I woke up curled in a fetal position.

As a parent, I’d likewise be horrified if my kids confronted immediate evidence of us having sex. But maybe I’m just an uptight Catholic. I have two girls, and I don’t even like to walk around the house naked.

My generation is not all prudish. Emily Mendell, who’s 39 and has two sons, wrote in her highly read Babble article “Nude Awakening” about being undressed around her pre-teen boys.

There are certain inalienable rights associated with the family. For me, nudity is one of them.

I don’t know. WikiAnswers says it’s all no big deal:

Sex is a natural human function and making a big deal over the situation when a child enters the room could forever effect how that child views sex for the rest of its life. You are not doing anything wrong and if the child is used to just walking in, then neither is he/she.

But, I mean, look at LaBeouf. He’s a mess. According to the Parade article, he’s an alcoholic with a DUI, a commitment-phobe, and a major studio star so insecure he stops his bike in busy streets to see how many people recognize him. Also, he’s a terrible actor.

Does seeing your parents having sex have lasting effects? You decide.


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  1. collapse expand

    How else would talk therapists put their own kids through college?

  2. collapse expand

    I know it’s boring but, as usual, I think there’s a middle path. I don’t imagine Mendell’s walking around naked in front of her pre-teen boys is going to remain a terribly healthy thing once they become teens. But, having been raised Catholic myself, and having been told I was going to hell by my church for doing a lot of really normal things, it’s clear to me that one can err too far to the prudish side as well.

  3. collapse expand

    I once walked in my mother and her then husband doing it, I was about 12. Seeing my mother having sex was not that shocking, both my parents were fairly open minded people. What surprised me was the noise my mother was making and how much she obviously was enjoying herself. In a funny way it also helped me to better understand my mother, as I grew older I came to understand part of her reason for being married to a man I detested. That 10 seconds went a long way in helping me to understand the power that sex holds over all of us, and how sex often leads into making unwise choices.

  4. collapse expand

    I once heard my parents having a pillow fight and it was OH MY GOD!! They were having sex, right? Oh man.

  5. collapse expand

    I think I would have rather walked in on my parents having sex than my mom folding up the pull-out couch every morning. Sigh. Too much love or not enough. Can a family never win?

    • collapse expand

      totally Katie… I used to hear my parents having sex pretty regularly. they’d do it in the early morning trying to get it in before the kids woke up for school. My brother seemed perpetually horrified.

      When my 20 year younger sister came along (my mom was 46 when she had her), my friends, many of whom from divorced families, were of course, amazed. And I would just smile and nod, and answer their questions with something like “yeah, they still like each other, it’s pretty cool.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    We grew up certain that my parents had sex a shocking five times. Five kids = five times. That was about all we could imagine, and I honestly haven’t thought much about it since!

  7. collapse expand

    Your second post on sex in one week, Lisa. Just pointing it out.

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    Read Wasabi Mama for your daily dose of sinus-clearing rant on parenting, work, media and entertainment. If you like a fresh nasal passage, please click below my photo to "follow me." For more on me, please visit www.lisacullen.com.

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