"I caught my son masturbating for the first time"

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A Singaporean mum wonders what to do now that she caught her 10-year-old son wanking off.

Jamie* is a single mum of sons Leon* (aged 10) and Marcus* (aged 7). They live in a cosy apartment in Siglap, and the boys have their own rooms. Jamie works as a nurse and does late night shifts from time to time. Her boys are looked after by their domestic helper, who lives with them.

“Being a mother of 2 boys, I thought I had seen it all. Like Ray Romano said... Having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and there's a lot of throwing up. This pretty much sums up my life. I can safely say I’ve been winging it so far, but when I got to this conundrum, I was stumped as to what to do."

"I never prepared myself for this situation. And I should have been."

 

Definitely not a moment a mum would like to put down in her memory book, but here is how the story goes…

I got home around midnight on a Saturday night after a long day at the hospital- the hall lights were off, and the boys’ bedroom doors were shut. I usually check in on them, no matter what time I get home, just to hug them goodnight. This was a routine, and tonight, like every other night, I walked into Leon’s room first, to say goodnight.

As I entered, I noticed that the night lamp was switched on. There, in the dim-lit room, I saw him rubbing himself. I could see everything! I was so stunned, I didn’t know how to react. I froze for a few seconds, just staring down at him, and he freaked out, started yelling for me to leave the room, and took his blanket as cover.

I dashed out, and found myself feeling a mix of emotions. I was furious, disgusted, yet concerned. Telling myself to calm down and let him have his space to ‘recover’ from that encounter, I went into my room, took a shower and spent all that time trying to think of how I was going to approach him to talk about it. We had to talk about it - there was no way we could pretend it didn’t happen.

I kept thinking, “But he’s only 10. Is this normal? Where did he learn how to do it from? Does Marcus also do it? What should I do?”

A few minutes later, I knocked on his door (regretting not having done that earlier), and entered his room. He was snuggled in a corner in his bed, looking all flushed and worried. I felt sorry for him - I didn’t want him to feel victimised. This incident called for an awkward conversation - and it was happening then. I had to do it.

I sat down next to him, held his hand, and told him, “It’s okay. But we need to talk about this. I know it’s a natural thing that boys do, but I was not aware that you were already doing it. Tell me how you feel about it and we can sort this out together.”

“Mum, this is so embarrassing, please don’t tell Marcus”. I assured him that nobody will have to know about this- this was between him and me. He sat up, looking shy and didn’t have eye contact with me. I didn’t push for it because I too felt uncomfortable.

“Sorry mummy, I felt this weird feeling and I just started stroking it. It felt normal. I have been doing it in the shower a few times now. Is it wrong? During sex education in school we covered this and I know what it means. But is it too early for me to be doing it?”

I explained to him that it was a natural process and he had nothing to be ashamed of. I took the opportunity to reassure him that these changes are meant to be, and were part of growing up. I made him understand that masturbation is private but not shameful. Of course, I was secretly thankful that his teachers had already had that talk with the kids - it made this conversation so much easier to have!

It also made me feel good to know that the school was raising a generation that recognises masturbation as a natural part of human sexuality.

He felt better after a while, and by me showing that I was not there to judge him or reprimand him, made him feel more at ease. I did not want to scold him for it, because he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Yes, it was an unfortunate circumstance that I had to walk in on him, but it was not a ‘bad deed’.

We then moved on to chat about what the other boys in school have shared with him about them experimenting with their own bodies, and it was interesting to know that kids at this tender age were very confident about themselves and fully aware on how their bodies work. I actually felt safe hearing the things he was telling me.

Now I know that I have a whole other conversation to have with his younger brother soon!


How to talk to your kids about masturbation

Masturbation. Testicle. Vagina. Why beat around the bush? These are real words to include in sex education and are essential to what makes us human. And parents, there’s no comfortable or easy way around it.

Have an honest and effective conversation with your kids when you deem fit - this conversation has to happen sooner or later. Let your child know that as he gets older, he might want to explore his genitals more and enjoy the sensations of touching more, and explain that is normal.

Another, more creative way, is to give him a good, readable kids' book on puberty and sexual development. Before buying, look it over yourself to make sure you like its approach. Place it in your child's room, where he can look at in private, and casually tell him that you've left it there for him to look at, only if he wants to. Offer to talk to him about any questions he may have later.

It's also important to let your son (more specifically in this case) know well before puberty that wet dreams are a normal part of growing up. Reassure him that he can't control it, and that ejaculation is just a physical sign that he's growing into manhood.

The key is to show your child that you are there for them at this stage of their life, which can be a scary period for them. Your child may feel guilty about this unless you reassure him/her that it's not only normal but healthy to have sexual feelings, and that everyone masturbates, though they may not talk about it.

 

*All names in this story have been changed to protect the identity of those involved

(Story as told to Pavin Chopra)

 

Mummies and daddies, have you had this talk with your child yet? Share with us how you tackled it.

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Penulis

Ayu Idris

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