Children & sex - The parents speak

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[p. 72-75] Parents were asked if they had encountered situations in which their pleasurable touching experiences with children had gone beyond the merely sensuous to become sexually stimulating. Mothers and fathers tended to respond quite differently to inquiries on this rather sensitive and personal subject. Mothers, as a rule, were much more comfortable confronting the sensual aspects of physical contact with their children than were fathers. [...]

[Ethel:] "Well, I'll tell you," she began with a deep chuckle, "My son, I'm always teasing, the middle son [age 12]. He has a big penis. And I say, 'When you get to be fourteen...' She laughed again. "I guess I think, 'Okay, if this was somebody that I could really get involved with... Boy, what I could do!' You just sort of fantasize about all different kinds of things, and then you bring yourself back down and you say, 'Okay, now put yourself back in the mother's shoes.' [...]

[Margot, mother of 10 year old girl:] "I felt aroused when she used to nurse," she began. "I loved that. I'm not aware of feeling aroused when she touches me now, but it is possible but I just block it." [...] As long as it doesn't get into that barrier that I set up in my mind, that I'm provocative with her." She paused again. "Or maybe it's that I don't want to be turned on by my own kid. I don't know. It's both."

Fathers, on the whole, could not talk easily about the sensuality that might exist in their relationships with their daughters. For example, unlike mothers, no father indicated that he was aroused by a child of the same sex. A few fathers thought it was inevitable that they would sometimes be turned on when they saw their daughters nude, played with them, bathed them, changed their diapers. "A natural thing. You know, it's not anything that I feel ashamed about. I don't see it as an incestuous thing." At least one father, Robert, a single parent who was exceptionally close to his daughter, admitted that he thought of her as "a very sexy kid." The attraction had begun when she was about one-and-a-half and had gown [grown] stronger as she became more and more a little girl. "It's hard to describe what sexy is. I sometimes tell her she's sexy. I don't know what she thinks it means. She gets embarrassed. I treat her like my girlfriend. I think somewhat she's a substitute for having a permanent girlfriend who I'm in love with or something like that. Because I'm definitely in love with my daughter, and half the time she's my daughter and half the time she's my girlfriend." Robert was aware that his attitude might be regarded as incestuous, and had discussed it with his therapist. But he also thought it would be unnatural for him to suppress this warmth and intimacy or curb this demonstrativeness, though he did have strong feelings about inappropriate physical contact. "I wouldn't play with her vagina, but I put my hand on her behind because it felt good and she might think it feels good. But I would never fondle her anywhere." [...]

This daughter, Robin, is now eight. "She will make covert attempts to touch me, sort of like pretend she's rubbing up against me. [...] She'll just brush up against me. You can kind of tell, you know. I usually won't say anything unless it's so overt - she'll like sort of poke and I'll say, 'Robin, stop that.' That's all." [...]

[p. 97] Gina [mother of 11 year old boy] described one such experience. ["]I do know that my son had a homosexual encounter. He was sleeping over at a friend's house and I believe it was he who inserted his penis into his friend's rear end. I just figure it was a natural experience. It was bound to happen and I just never discussed it. I saw it in my own mind as a completely innocent act. I can remember in my formative years having a homosexual encounter with a close friend and I know that I'm heterosexual so I guess part of that is knowing that it isn't a matter of casting the die, so to speak. They have a close friend and sometimes a sexual relationship evolves out of that and I don't see it as necessarily threatening.["] [...]

[p. 100] The most horrifying story, however, came from a mother who was particularly adamant about remaining anonymous because of the delicacy of the situation. Her ten-year-old daughter had been molested by a delivery man who brought groceries regularly to their home and was well liked by the family. "He put his penis into her mouth. I really don't want to go into it. That's basically what happened," she began with great difficulty. the parents in this case had taken legal action to have the man prosecuted (though it seemed unlikely that anything would come of it), but their major effort was to minimize the emotional trauma of their little girl. Professional counseling had been effective in helping the child deal with her reactions to the incident, but her parents also took an active role in giving her feelings of self-worth. [...] [T]he mother tried to make clear to her daughter that there are people who are sick emotionally and can be harmful. [...]

[p. 115] A father described how on the changing table, his daughter - "she was maybe fifteen months old" - used to clamp the Vaseline jar between her legs in such a way that it rubbed against her vagina. " And then she'd get a big smile on her face. I'd say to my wife, 'Is she doing what I think she's doing?' And she'd say, 'Sure enough!'" [...]

[p. 256-258] Underlying the comments of many parents, whether they accepted or rejected homosexuality, was some anxiety about the fact that children could adopt this lifestyle for themselves. [...] A substantial number of parents said they would not be willing to accept a child's homosexuality without first seeking professional help. Many hoped that through therapy their children might "recover." [...] Some parents thought they would be concerned about their own responsibility in creating a homosexual. This was particularly true of women who were aware of the popular view that gay males smothering, overprotective, seductive mothers. Valerie [mother of 8 year old boy] would feel "terrible. Horrible. Terrible. I still think it is a sickness, maybe even a mental sickness, an emotional sickness. I guess it would make me feel like a failure in some ways."

source: From the book 'Children & Sex - The Parents Speak' by Emily Trafford Berges, Shelley Neiderbach, Barbara Rubin, Elaine First Sharpe, Rita Weinberg Tesler; Published by Facts On File, Inc., New York; 1983