Masturbation, self-pleasure, is a healthy practice that is self-discovered by many kids at a young age, and having the masturbation talk is as important as having the talk about sex.
Mothers are invincible, they work to create a memorable childhood for us growing up. Although during adolescence one topic that many parental figures strain from having is discussing sex. This conversation may be an uncomfortable one but it’s necessary to educate youths about the dos and don’ts surrounding sexual health. In many schools, sexual health is part of the curriculum, however, what is not being taught is the topic of masturbation.
According to pediatrician Dr. Cynthia Robbins, the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior indicates data from teens ranged from 14 to 17 where the occurrence of masturbation is high. According to the survey many boys masturbate at least twice a week however only 23% of girls have done that. 63% of younger boys masturbated and it increased to 80% when they reached seventeen years old. However, for girls, the percentage only raised from 43% to 58%. (Rochman 2011).
In our society, it is common for boys to masturbate and have it normalized. For girls, it is portrayed as shameful to have self-pleasure. For many adults, the subject of masturbation was taboo and not really discussed. Mothers can be part of the change and normalize masturbation by teaching their children about it.
Self-exploration at a young age
Being a mother holds the responsibility of educating your child about everything including the most intimate and sensitive topics like masturbation. According to sexual health educator Marnie Goldenberg, masturbation isn’t sexual, at a young age many children explore their bodies. It’s a natural thing to get curious (Rae, 2020).
A mother shouldn’t feel worried if their child begins self-discovery, it’s all part of the process. Goldenberg goes on to add; Some parents fear it’s a sign that their kids have been exposed to sexual content or even assaulted, but it’s really important to remember that it’s a comforting, soothing, feel-good sensation. Self-exploration is a great thing. You’re allowed to touch and explore your body (Rae, 2020).
4 recommendations prioritizing the masturbation talk
- Emphasize privacy— When a child masturbates, at any age, if you happen to catch them in the act or if the topic is brought to your attention, make sure to emphasize the importance of privacy. Let your child know it’s a healthy action, but do it in the privacy of their room. If you are still hesitant at the idea that your child is masturbating, keep in mind that masturbation is the safest outlet for normal sexual feelings. Your child is not being pressured or coerced (Sprankles, 2020).
- Focus on the Child— According to Dr. Madhavi, an obstetrician, and gynecologist at Motherhood Hospital the bond between child and mother (parent) can be stronger if you form security between your children. You must create a safe zone to discuss masturbation. This discussion can be at any time so there is no rush. Just remember to keep the topic casual and informative. One thing that you should keep in mind is to focus on the child, do not let any “internalized biases” get in the way of discussing masturbation. (Sprankles 2020).
- Be One Step Ahead— Finding an opportunity to talk about masturbation can be tricky. Unless your child asks you directly, or if you see them do it, it can be hard to figure out the appropriate time. However, opportunities can come in many forms. Find an opportunity through tv, movies, media, and news to bring up masturbation and any form of sexual education to the forefront.
- It’s Your Body— It’s the child’s body, so they can do what they want with it. Masturbation is just another form of self-love. This is an opportunity for the child to discover what works for them and to develop a safe healthy sex life with a future partner. Remind them to love themselves and to appreciate their body.
I hope these tips resonate with every mother who has been having a hard time with this discussion. Whether your child is very young, a teenager, a young adult, or if you are expecting; there is no shame in having The Masturbation Talk.