Some background.

I have always been extremely careful about taking precautions to prevent my children from ever walking in on me when engaging in sexual activity. I've had a relationship with my next door neighbor (an old school friend, not just any neighbor) and he would frequently visit after my children had gone to sleep and be gone before they woke up.

At some point my (then 11 or 12 year old) son would often come into my room in the middle of the night without knocking. I ended up explaining to him that he could not do this, as one night he may get a shock if he finds I'm not alone.

One obvious thing is to get a lock on the bedroom door, I did put a screen up, to hide the bed from the door.

I think it's important to keep my sexual activities away from my children, but I thought it would be better to say something to my son, rather than have him walk in on us.

So my question is this:
How much information is healthy to disclose to a child about a parent's sexual activities (obviously not details), is it good to discuss it, if so at what age?

  • 3
    I answered the part about "How much info should be disclosed" because I actually think you have two great questions here and hoped you'd ask, "How damaging is it for children to witness sexual activity in which a parent is engaged?" as a separate question. Nov 19, 2013 at 3:41
  • @balancedmama should I ask it separately?
    – user21179
    Nov 19, 2013 at 3:43
  • @balancedmama asked parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/10475/…
    – user21179
    Nov 19, 2013 at 3:46
  • I was 11 years old and caught the parents doing it. The door was wide open, and dad was livid! I froze in the bathroom and was hysterical. Mom came in and told me to get back to bed. I did. She slammed the door and nothing was ever said. Little did I realize that was only the tip of the iceberg. I have am horribly traumatized. To this very day I am hollow and have no soul. I hope and pray that someone, just one person, will read this, and think of the irreparable damage that can be done to a child.
    – user21753
    Mar 29, 2016 at 22:56
  • 1
    Sleep over at gradma's place? Aug 16, 2016 at 10:56

4 Answers 4


What an awesome question! People always talk about "The Talk" but talking to kids about sexually related topics is something that happens over and over again throughout a child's upbringing if a child is being brought up in a frank atmosphere. There is the, "where do babies come from" as well as the, "why can't I come into your room when-ever I want" and the, "but mom, so and so doesn't have a curfew because its prom night!" and everything in between.

I am assuming the kids know you and this neighbor are in an ongoing relationship already as I answer this. I know from previous questions there may be some complexities regarding dating etc. if they are not already aware. Of course, if they do not already know, you'll have to address that first. You also may want to be prepared for the talk about them having their own overnight guests and where your rules on that stand (and why things might be different for you than they are with them). It may not come up, but teens are teens so I always figure it is just good to be prepared.

In my experience the more forthright and frank you are (without the details) the more willing they are to talk to you about their stuff - something you really do want them to do even if it is hard to hear.

At 11/12, he should know the mechanics of sex, because his body is about ready to change with that as the biological end goal (if things haven't started already). Since this is the case, I'd suggest you just be frank about it. "_ I'm not comfortable with you entering my room at night, because I am in a serious relationship with _. I feel what we do together is between us and should stay that way so my room is simply off limits without a confirmation from me that you may enter the room."

At the same time, I am answering this way, not knowing why your son wishes to come in at night anyway. If your son really wants to have some cuddle time still and that is why is coming in you may want to find a way to arrange for that too. In my family, we liked to cuddle up and read a family book together in our pjs in the morning. (I think my parents enjoyed their delights in the morning because we weren't allowed in before 8:00 on Saturdays and before 6:00 on School days) Sunday was a day when Mom and Dad refrained so we could all climb in together and read a book or the news together that way we got our cuddle time too. Of course, by the time my sister and I were about 12, we weren't so interested in that any more anyway, but Sundays we were allowed in. You might make a similar agreement with him. Maybe Tuesday's are for the kids if they wih to use Tuesdays and the rest of the week the bedroom is off limits or something.

  • Yes they are aware of the relationship. My questions do not always portray this very well and yes, the issue of him coming into my room is a separate topic ty :)
    – user21179
    Nov 19, 2013 at 3:47

This is a good starting point for acting as a role model for teaching limits and boundaries. This is how we handled it. Our children have "golden time", a time and space for them to do what they want, how they want, limited to an hour maximum. Subsequently, when we (the parents) want to have sex during the day we tell the children, who are 10 & 7, it's mummy and daddy's "golden time" aka we need some privacy, that privacy is needed by parents (it may not just be about sex).

Another boundary that we have set is that after 11pm everyone is in bed and only need to come out of the bedroom if it's an "issue" that can't be easily resolved by the kids (or a toilet break obvs.). These you build up over time. Sadly, having children is a long game and you build these things up over time.

Managing how you want to have sex is a good starting point to help guide your child through life, think about how your parents handled it and how you would have liked it to be tackled, then you can use that to help your child to navigate interpersonal boundaries and how sex is used in relationships. It's important to understand what messages you are sending and how your son is decoding them, because he's now at the age where his socialisation is starting to be set up for adult life. Think of all the permutations of what your son is encountering, how he may interpret it and how it may affect him in the future.

Try to find ways to explain in his terms, using metaphors that he understands. Using the adult speak like (and I'll be trite here) "do not enter my interpersonal space as I am engaging in ... and I am not comfortable...", children don't internally speak to themselves like that, they need it in terms they can understand and relate to.


Many children are aware of sex, but are appaled at the thought of their parents doing 'it'. Perhaps you can use this. Check how your son feels about his parents and 'the dirty deeds'. This might be a question aimed at him together with some friends. If they react apalled, you know you've got them. Warn him: what has been seen, can not be unseen!


I would suggest you lock your bedroom door during the night if you are scared of what the kids will think. But I feel it’s better to be frank with children, as then they can share their problems with you.

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