Welcome to Great Moments in Parenting, a series where fathers explain a parenting hurdle they faced and the unique way they overcame it. This time, Justin, 34, from Amarillo, TX, tells Fatherly how he handled it after his son walked in on he and his wife having sex.
My wife and I maintain a pretty active sex life. We have two kids, jobs, and a lot of other obligations, but we prioritize time with one another because it’s important. Plus, hey, we enjoy having sex with one another and I’d like to keep it that way. I know plenty of couples where that isn’t the case.
Anyway, one night after the kids were in bed, my wife and I had some wine and were a little bit more um, amorous, than normal. We must’ve been a bit loud is what I’m saying. And we were in the middle of it when our oldest, who is seven, walked in. I was in a position to see him enter the room, stand there looking spooked for 15 seconds, and then rush out.
We stopped what we were doing. My wife was a bit worried. I was too. But then I made her laugh by referencing that Will Ferrell outtake from Eastbound & Down when he played that car dealer Ashley Schaeffer and has this ridiculous monologue where he says “My plums!” a lot. So I just said, do you think he saw my plums? That made her laugh and she calmed down and I told her I would handle this. Then, I left to talk to him.
Truth be told, I was nervous to go into his room. I remember my conversation with my father about sex when I was a kid and it was silence — we just didn’t talk about that whether because of awkwardness or no desire to. I just don’t think it was something he ever wanted to approach. It made it pretty weird for me as a kid. Not that I was desperate to have those conversations. But I wanted to talk about things and he didn’t. So I wanted to make sure to not have that type of relationship with my son. I didn’t want it to be at this age, because I think it’s a bit young, but I know that the sooner kids talk about it, the less weird it is.
But to tell you the truth, I was pretty nervous going to approach him. It wasn’t about the topic — my wife and I are very sex positive people. It was more about not saying anything dumb to ruin it. So I took a beat and then entered.
He was awake and I sat at the foot of his bed. I told him that I saw him come into our room and then asked him if he had any questions about what he saw. He looked at me for a minute — he’s a thoughtful kid — and just asked “Were you guys playing?”
Now, I could’ve responded by lying and saying that, Yes, mom and I were just playing around. But that wouldn’t be honest. Instead, I said “Sort of. We were having fun but we were doing something adults do called sex.”
He didn’t ask what sex was. Instead, he asked, “Who won?” Which has got to be one of the funniest things he’s ever said not on purpose. I laughed. He did, too. Then I said, “Your mother. She’s better at it than me.” Which also happens to be true. He said okay, I asked if he had any more questions. He didn’t and then, I tucked him in. (He had some questions the next day —and the day after — which I was more than happy to answer.)
And that was it. Did I scar him? I hope not. I intended to start a conversation and we had the beginnings of one that he seemed receptive too. It felt like a great parenting moment to me because I went in there with a plan to be truthful and open I was. At least I think I was? Who knows. Does anyone?
After our talk, I went back to my room and crawled back into bed. My wife asked what happened and I told her that I explained to our son how she was better at sex than me. She burst out laughing and I told her how the conversation went. She seemed pleased. Then, we finished having sex – quieter this time – and went to bed. Oh and that weekend I put a lock on our bedroom door.