Stop Over-sexualizing Innocent Acts of Your Children

Filed Under (Musings, Parenting) by on 06-12-2012

Silhouette of children playing behind an umbrellaAs a father of four year old twins, its terrifying to think of all the things kids have to worry about these days.  Sexual predators, cyber bullying, regular bullying, school shootings and the like.  But what’s scarier is the fact that parents have become over sensitized to certain things kids do and ultimately ruin childhood innocence through paranoia.

Too Close for Comfort?

Late last month I came across a blog post titled Adorable Boy-Girl Moment, or Too Close for Comfort?  In it a mother of a six year old boy questions the innocence of her son and his best friend, who just so happened to be a girl.  In the final moments before a long distance move, the boy and girl, both six, lay on the floor discussing the move and how they would miss one another.

As the two watched TV the mom popped her head in to find the boy lying on the floor watching cartoons with the young girl lying on his chest as he gently ran his fingers through her hair.  The mom essentially freaked out, though she kept her composure, and managed to distract the two in order to stop it.  She ended her post with,

“But I’m still torn on whether their comfy cuddle-time was the most adorable thing ever, or a teensy tiny bit on the WHOAH HOLY SHIT side.”

In the comments numerous readers called her nuts, crazy, ridiculous, and I have to agree.  As we look to our children and their actions we can’t over-sexualize them the way I see so many parents do.  This isn’t the first time I have seen a parent freak out about the innocence of children like this.  I recently saw a comment thread on Facebook where moms were freaking out about how disgusting or inappropriate kissing your child on the lips was.  If you feel a peck on your child’s lips is too intimate or sexual, I think you have bigger problems to deal with.

Leave Them Kids Alone

While I think the mom in this story is a nut, I at least partly agree with how she handled it.  She didn’t make a big deal about it to the kids, and didn’t prematurely expose her son to early curiosity of sexual behavior.  What would have happened if she had freaked out and told them it was inappropriate for a young boy and girl to be so affectionate?  What sort of questions would it have raised for the six year old?

As adults, we have a cognitive understanding of intimate relationships, sexual relationships, and the like.  Unless you’re letting your son or daughter in on the birds and the bees they are most likely completely oblivious to these acts, and therefore are not seeing their actions the same way you or another adult would.  Unless your child is performing an actual sexual act, or exploring in ways that violate what is appropriate I see no need in blasting your kid for being inappropriate.  Humiliating them for it, making them feel guilty for it, or treating it as something more than it is is simply opening your child up to more harm than good in the long run.

Being a parent in this day in age is scary as hell.  It’s one reason my wife and I opted to home school our kids, but as much as parents fear what happens outside of their home they need to be aware of the actions they take while their children are inside their home.  Over reacting to a child’s innocence could be just as damaging as some of the stuff they might face outside the four walls of your home.

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