I know that my parents must have had sex at least twice. (I have a brother, after all.) But talking about their physical relationship in front of us kids--even when we were old enough to have spouses of our own? It just didn't happen.
But other families are different. I hear parents making jokes or hinting at their bedroom antics in front of their older kids. This, of course, usually ends in the kids running from the room in horror, much to the parents' amusement.
But could these jokes and innuendos actually be hurting your kids psychologically? That's what licensed marriage and family therapist Carin Goldstein, MFT believes.
"If the two of you are having a blast in the bedroom, then more power to you," she says. "But keep it there: in the bedroom - separate from invading the world of your kids. As healthy as sex is, much of sex is about our inner most deep sensualities and primitive responses to the 'feel good' parts of our brain. The idea or visual of 'mommy and daddy' regressing to a primitive state is actually an unsafe and out of control feeling for kids (unconsciously)."
Most kids, she says, will express this discomfort with a simple "Eww" or "Gross! I don't want to hear this!" type response. "Their response is a healthy reaction to an appropriate boundary of a parents' sexual relationship being separate from what the children are privy to."
She believes boundaries are essential--no matter how old the child--and sex between parents should be kept behind bedroom doors.
"Parents who feel the need to overwhelm their children with this information are acting out their own issues onto the child and are clearly not thinking of the consequences," she says. "Children need to learn boundaries in life and it's a parent's job to teach them proper limits."
Of course, that's not to say talking about sex in general isn't important between a parent and child. But, Goldstein says, it's best to take the child's lead and keep your own sex life out of the discussion.
"Kids need to put their parents on a higher plain so that on an unconscious level their world feels safe, knowing that Mom and Dad are 'in control' and not acting out like sex starved teenagers," she insists. "If your children need to place you on the 'purist pedestal' so that the world feels safe to them, so be it. It's their own natural defense mechanisms and harmless at the end of the day."
What do you think? Does it creep you out when your parents talk about their sex life or is it OK because you're an adult?