Mostly unintentionally many parents are guilty of introducing their young children to sex! Parents inadvertently are their children’s first contact with sex and sexual activities. Psychologists also opine that directly or indirectly, the sexuality and sexual relationship of many parents often determines the sexuality of their offspring as an adult and even become the basic blueprint of their sexual relationships in their adulthood.
Sex in Indian society remains covered in several layers of mystery, intrigue and taboo for most. Even as people achieve adulthood and come to realise that most life on this planet including us human beings are a product of sex and other than progeny too it is a basic need just like hungers for food and water, for most Indians it is still difficult to imagine their parents as sexual beings and indulging in sex for pleasure or procreation.
In conventional families co-sleeping by children is quote common, even when they are teens or young adults. Right after delivery mothers are encouraged to sleep with the baby beside them and facilitate breast feedings etc. Back home, while many new parents buy fancy baby cots and cribs, in conventional family setups babies hardly ever get to sleep in them. Thus, many children tend to grow up in their parents’ bed which also happens to be the only place available to the couple to have sex too.
“It was midnight I couldn’t sleep well, I suddenly turned around as I was sleeping beside them and I saw both of them naked having sex, I pretended as if I have watched nothing as I pulled my blanket over, but whole night I couldn’t sleep. The very next day I went to school without breakfast, didn’t take my lunch fearing that I have watched something unusual and dirty. My schooling was affected, I couldn’t concentrate on studies for many months and couldn’t dare to make eye contact with my parents.”
Rrameez (name not changed)
In such a scenario it becomes highly likely for children of all ages to hear/see some sexual activity while they are growing up. A lot of parents have sex with their little children in the same room and sometimes on the same bed, believing that ‘they are fast asleep and will not wake up to catch a glimpse or hear anything’
Most commonly if the child is too young they might get confused about it. Surya S told Pallavi-
“Think of a teenager steaming up with energy and swinging along emotional imbalances. With no other guiding force they resort to friends and scattered web pages for information. All they get is least credible and full of misinformation. If it wasn’t a taboo, all this information can easily be summarised by parents in a loving talk which will be far more authentic and based on experience. We need to shed our old skin, it has worn out already.”
Where talking about sex is a taboo it is almost a sin to talk about any sexual incident involving ones parents. So the other response can be feeling some kind of sexual arousal watching or hearing your parents have sex (voyeurism) and sometimes even having sexual fantasies about your parents. Many children/ teenagers having no understanding of sex also think that the father is hurting the mother, again stemming from their cultural contexts of believing fathers to be aggressive and physical and mothers to be submissive and passive.
“I saw my parents making love when I was in my eighth standard. We all were sleeping in the same room. It was an erotic experience for me. Later, my partner also shared her experience of seeing her parents making love in the dark. She thought that her father was trying to kill mother. And she was frightened by that sight.” Ran Jith
Most of us who have a difficulty talking about sex seem to be unaware or don’t want to recognise sex being the source of our existence. We exist because our parents had sex. How will it help if we realize that our parents are sexual beings? Parents might also have their sexual preferences, does it make them less than god or does it make them human beings and like all they also have their right to pleasure. Will it not help if we know that our parents share physical intimacy?
Sex need not be an obsession or oppression, having it normalised in families will make societies less regressive and more accepting of each individual’s sexual choices whether these are about gender of sexual partners or specific kinks and fantasies.
So a good way to handle this would be to make public display of affection like kissing and hugging normalised in a family, talk about sex in an age appropriate manner to children, and try to achieve privacy as a couple as much as possible for intimate sexual contact.