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Sexual curiosity is NORMAL. Playing doctor is normal.
You might know it’s normal, and yet…
How do you handle it when your child engages in sexualized play?
How do you know if it’s a sign of something more serious, like abuse or porn exposure?
Both Amy Lang and Patty Wipfler gave phenomenal interviews on how to handle your child’s sexual play, and if you haven’t listened in, find the time.
It might be hard to reconcile their somewhat different perspectives: that sexual play is normal and healthy…and the recommendation to squash it. Between children of equal power, where each feels comfortable and each knows they can opt out at any time, satisfying curiosity about private parts is safe and normal.
The problem is…
…there are so many kids who have been sexually abused, or who have been exposed to porn, that we can’t assume their sexual play will be child-like and safe. It may take on aspects of adult sexuality. Even if it doesn’t…if your son and his best friend enjoy this game together, will your son say no to the same game with an older cousin? It’s not worth the risk.
If you’re sure there’s no porn exposure and no sexual abuse in your little corner of the world, or if you can supervise doctor play to make sure it’s safe, let them. If you have a little house on the prairie, let them explore their private parts and what feels good any way they wish.
But, if you’re like the rest of us…
…living in a larger community with rampant access to the internet, one of the simplest ways to prevent sexual abuse is to teach your child to have strong body boundaries about their private parts. That includes discouraging their natural impulse to share their genitals with one another.
It’s a tradeoff. Gain the rest of humanity, whether that’s in a city or through the web, and you gain the abusive and the abused as well.
Listen to Amy’s interview for her script of what to say when you encounter child sexual play.
In support of you,