A while back, I asked for topic suggestions – either things about which I’ve written that you enjoy reading, or suggestions for new topics. My friend, Omniwhore (who writes a great blog, btw), wrote that he would be interested to read about “how [I] deal with [my] kids in terms of what they notice, what you tell them, etc.” I’ve touched on this in a few posts in the past, but haven’t really engaged in a comprehensive way with the subject. As I’ve written elsewhere, sex was a big taboo area of secrecy and shame in my childhood, and I’m kinda hell-bent on its not being so for our son. Yet and still, in many ways, I’ve replicated my Dad’s secrecy, if not shame, around sex. We have a secret sex life that we don’t discuss with our son.

But I think that, in many ways, we are, and will be, different.
First off, our kid is pretty young, so sex isn’t, yet, a huge topic of interest for him. But there are a couple of ways in which sex comes up, even at his age. The biggest, of course, is around logistics. When his Mom or I go out, or when the two of us do, he’s increasingly inquisitive about our plans. It’s no longer enough to say, “We’re going out.” He wants to know where, with whom, when we’ll be back, etc. I don’t know that we (yet) have a great set of answers to these questions. For the most part, we’ve been improvising. But my impulse is to twin honesty with privacy, to say, essentially, “We’re going out, and where and with whom isn’t really your business.” I haven’t figured out how to say that, yet, but it seems (to me) the right answer.
Of course, as he gets older, the questions he asks will no doubt be more complicated. My basic guide will, I expect, be “avoid lying at almost all costs, and match disclosure to interest and maturity.” But I think my Dad could claim to have followed that same poicy with me, and, in retrospect, he got it totally wrong. So who knows.


  1. I think it’s a balance between the children’s age and maturity level. We have two girls that are 5 years apart. The oldest learned of things first at a later age than the youngest. Primary because the youngest would squeeze information out of her older sister.
    We started discussing sex at an early age. I guess I just wanted to be sure they were hearing it from me before they heard anything from their friends.
    And I knew my mother’s 10 second speech, “save yourself till marriage” wouldn’t cut it. lol. Even at the old age of 15 I knew my mother was living in lalaland.

  2. As kids get older, they have more of their own extensive activities and invitations and they think mom and dad aren’t doing anything in particular that night except watching Netflix and ordering takeout.

  3. There’s definitely a balance between age/maturity and what we can talk bout with our kids. My older kids know that we are kinky. They know we are on fetlife and that we go out with friends who are also on fet a few times a month. They don’t entirely understand what that means, but at 16 and 17, if they ask I will talk to them about it in a generalized way ie. this is what it means to be kinky, we are into some of that kind of stuff.

    My oldest daughter is grown and married, she knows the whole deal, had a fetlife account herself for a time, understands our dynamic, but we agreed that she didn’t want the particulars…we’re still her parents 🙂

    My little kids, they know nothing. lol Sex isn’t a taboo topic in our house, for much the same reason you don’t want it to be in yours. Np pne on our family ever discussed sex or any kind of issues surrounding. I remember when Master had an apartment in the red light district in SF and my mother was absolutely disgusted that I had to walk past strip clubs to get there. I don’t want my kids to feel i am ashamed of them, ever. Especially not because of sex.

    We answer the small ones when they ask the who and where questions with “Friends and just to hang out.” Sometimes we will be going to a munch and we will tell then “out to dinner”. It important not to lie. It hurts them so much more when they think that they cannot trust us than it would for us to tell them that the details are personal. Some things are just too big for them….like a suitcase that’s too heavy for them to carry. You wouldn’t expect or allow them to carry something that could hurt them, knowledge can be the same for young children, just too heavy for them at this time.

  4. Thinking about this more–privacy may be more of an issue than secrecy or shame. I don’t want my kids to know what I’m doing with my husband either. If there are additional people, early on it’s not necessary to discuss with them. I don’t know that means shame.

    They already know as they’ve grown older that we believe in marriage equality for gays, don’t believe religion or legislation should dictate people’s lives, etc., and we’ve tried to apply that to all kinds of beliefs and actions. I’ve said, for example, that some people prefer more than one long-term partner. My older child shuts down if I say too much about sex. But she knows enough to be safe (and of course I’m protective of them). They have to be educated gradually, though if they have questions, I answer. I don’t think that they want to know what we do, though certainly they can pick up on if there are feelings between people.

    I know some polyamorous parents do tell their kids if they have a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. It all depends on the maturity of the child, what people could lose if the child tells others, etc. We live in a society that punishes people for consensual relationships and activities.

    Privacy has to be balanced with protection–of self, of others.

  5. This is a topic that is of great interest to me. I have pre-teen children who are just treading their first steps into puberty and my oldest boy is starting to experiment with relationships. Interestingly he got into a bit of ‘trouble’ with his first girlfriend because he used the same language to speak to her that he heard his father use to speak to myself. This led to a few discussions on the differences between people’s morality and how what we think is appropriate is not necessarily what others think is appropriate. It also led to some discussions about what constitutes a ‘no’ and what is a ‘yes’. I feel (with some satisfaction) that our son still trusts our judgement and ideas which to me says we are doing is right.

    We haven’t quite worked out all the details about how to explain our lifestyle as yet. We are just going with a need to know basis and giving information as we see fit. We feel that our children need to learn to respect privacy, especially our 10yo so sometimes questions will get answered with ‘that is really none of your business’ but on the whole we try to foster the idea that how one particular person chooses to manage their sex or romantic life may not be your exact cup of tea but it is not up to you to say if it is right or wrong.

    I guess in the end we will never know if we are getting it right or wrong until it is too late. I think that no matter what you do there will always be something that your children will claim scarred them for life.

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