Finding alone time as a married couple is always tough and finding real alone time with kids is nothing short of a challenge. When the kids are tucked away in bed you hope that the romance will be uninterrupted but that last trip to the bathroom or that lingering question that can’t quite wait until morning might just lead to an awkward situation. So what should you do in you’re caught in the act?
First things first: avoid the natural inclination to panic and react on instinct. Licensed clinical social worker Shauna Knox (LICSW) says you have to recognize your role as a parent even in the most embarrassing situations. “Our first instinct may be to yell and scream at them to 'get out, get out, get out!’ --but think about it from their point of view. If they are younger children, they won't have a clue about how to process what they saw or heard and will understandably be afraid that they have been bad somehow and that maybe their parents are in physical trouble,” she cautions. Whether you want to or not, an explanation needs to be presented to assuage your child’s fears. “Simply and honestly answer whatever questions they might have. You want them to understand that what you were doing was normal, but private,” Knox offers.
Depending on their age your child may be confused, troubled or just plain shocked by what they saw. As a parent, it’s your job to fill in the details the best way you can. Most parenting manuals gloss over the chapter explaining how you tell your children that indeed you do have sex and that’s it’s not as repulsive as they may think. Knox encourages parents to remind their kids that they are walking/talking human beings just like them. “Keep in mind that they do not understand the life we've had before them or that we currently have outside of them,” she says. Having recognized that their parents are people might also help them to feel good about the fact that mom and dad still care about each other, no matter how uncomfortable they may feel about seeing it up close and personal.
What you do say to your child should be largely dependent on their age. Young kids might not need to hear a lengthy explanation about sex or anatomy and older kids probably already know what sex is. Knox promotes a healthy dialogue between parents and their kids about sex and one last crucial piece of advice: “You don't want this to become a traumatic memory for them. With older kids, you can give more age appropriate information to their questions, making sure to stress that this is a way for parents to express their love for each other. And next time, double check the door!”