Mommamental: Stop Shaming Your Kids For Masturbating

art by Julia Green

art by Julia Green

If you have an iPhone, and you’re like me, which is to say you talk a lot about sex and sex-related subject matter, you know that the iPhone doesn’t auto predict the word masturbation. The iPhone is, in fact, such a sexual square that it will try to correct your “masturbation” to “master” even after you’ve clearly committed right down to the “mastur…” Once you hit the “b,” it gives up entirely and assumes you must be using some as yet unknown to its dictionary word.

That’s how stuck in their own puritanical thinking Apple (and really most of America) is; they don’t even want to you to TYPE masturbation. If this isn’t proof that we need to be talking about it, I don’t know what is.

Except for maybe that inevitable parenting milestone of having to tell your toddler 700 times a day to put their penis away. I mean are you really even a parent if you haven’t had to tell someone to keep their fingers out of their vulva in Target?

No. I don’t think so.

The thing is, it’s like babies just innately know that the parts of their body we cover with a diaper are the most fun to touch. Watch a baby’s hands go right for the good stuff as soon as you give them the opportunity. There is a reason “duct-tape diaper belt” is a parenting-hack.

The reason is, you guessed it, masturbation.


Say it with me, once more with feeling, mas-tur-ba-tion.

And louder for the folks in the back, MASTURBATION.

Just keep saying masturbation until it’s integrated into your vocabulary like any other ordinary word.


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I have a son who loves his butt. Not just “butt” like “cheek” but “butt” like “HOLE.” I’m not going to tell you which one of my three sons it is who loves HIS BUTTHOLE — just in case he runs for president someday and America still has a stick up its sanctimonious ass — but let’s say he’s six and he really LOVES IT.

He loves it so much that the other day he was fresh out of the swimming pool and naked in the backyard (stay away from me with your nudity shaming, I’m not here for it) with his fingers just all in his business. His older brother (18) was like “OMG STOP.” His father (43) looked at me and said: “I’m not exactly sure what to do here?”

You may be asking yourself the same thing.

The important thing here was less “he’s got his fingers in his colon” and more “how do we confine this behavior without shaming it?”

The answer was a simple, “You may do whatever you like to your own body, but if you are touching your penis/anus that’s a thing we would do privately (and also wash your hands because e.coli).”

The end.

art by Julia Green

You see how this could have gone several ways. Someone could have yelled at him. Someone could have told him it was gross. Someone could have told him he’s gross. And all it takes is a couple of those opportunities for acceptance to become judgment and a child has learned that touching their body, even if it feels good, is wrong.

I’m asking you, for the sake of their sexual, emotional, and mental health, to put aside your discomfort and tell them it’s not only okay to touch themselves, but it’s also great!

It’s great for so many reasons:

  • It feels, hello, amazing.
  • It helps you to become familiar with what feels good to you before you are in a partnered situation.
  • It’s actually good for your health (reduces anxiety, improves circulation, keeps your sex muscles flexed).
  • Bonus: There is literally zero percent chance of pregnancy or an STI.

Yes, I’m challenging you to encourage your kids to masturbate. You don’t have to send them to their room with a Playboy (do those even exist anymore?). It’s as simple as saying something affirming (yeah, I’m going to tell you exactly what to say, feel free to bookmark this article).

Here are some suggestions:

I’m glad to see you enjoy touching yourself.

Does that feels good? I think so too!

It feels nice to touch our bodies, doesn’t it?

And (to keep it out of the living room) take any of the above statements and add:

...That’s something that we would do in private.

...Would you like to go have some time alone?

...This is something we do alone.

I know this all might sound so unbelievably awkward to you, but I promise you, all you have to do is say the words. Kids don’t think masturbation is shameful. We teach them that because it’s what we were taught. Time to learn something new.

And, as always, keep talking, keep laughing, keep hugging. The manual your kids didn’t come with is inside you.



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