My own mom made me feel REALLY weird about anything related to body parts or sex or nudity. I have friends who can't use tampons b/c they are terrified to touch their private parts. So I know - from personal experience, and from seeing it firsthand - that you can totally screw someone up in this regard if you are not careful.
I certainly am not advocating never letting kids explore their bodies or ask questions. We use proper terms for body parts. My 6 y/o is very open in asking tons of detailed questions....
Personally, I don't allow masturbation. I think the pleasure that comes from that is designed to be enjoyed in the marriage arrangement. That does NOT mean that I punish kids for doing it. That would be ridiculous, as they have no idea what sex is yet, and it's totally beyond their grasp to understand such a thing.
But I do redirect and discourage it.
Exploratory touching/looking IMO is different from touching for the pleasurable aspect. And that is something that happens during baths, or while changing clothes - times when the kids know they are allowed to be naked, in the privacy of their rooms/bathroom. (I frequently get "Moooooom! Can you come here! I need to have a private talk with you! ..... What's THIS?!" from my 6 y/o when she is changing clothes or bathing. And that is totally fine.) Maybe I didn't say that clearly or very well in my post. Maybe it would not have mattered even if I did. I dunno.
I realize others feel differently. That is ok. I think we have a good balance going on here. I certainly understand this is a difficult thing to handle perfectly, it's a delicate subject, and a fine line to walk. But I think I'm doing alright so far... Though I do *sincerely* appreciate your thoughts/wisdom.
Originally Posted by DesertRat
I don't believe it's harmless. I believe it has spiritual implications. All sin (and sex outside of marriage is sin) distances us from God. There are also benefits to waiting until marriage to experience those feelings. Sex (and all the feelings associated with it) and normal, natural and SACRED. Our bodies are sacred. And the desires we all have are not only normal, but they are important! If my child feels guilty for masturbating it won't be because they've been taught their bodies are bad. They just have been taught that there is a more appropriate time and place for for experiencing sexual arousal.
It's like saying a kid who steals a candy bar shouldn't feel bad about it. Wanting a candy bar is okay. Having a candy bar is okay. Taking a candy car without means to pay for it is not okay. Guilt is not a terrible thing. It means you're doing something you've been taught not to.
As for punishment , no, I could not and would not punish a teenager for masturbating. (assuming I knew about it) There's not much I could do about it anyway. At that point, it's between them and their God. But we will, throughout their lives, talk about the sacred nature of intimacy, why it is better to wait until marriage and the blessings that come from a healthy intimate relationship with one's spouse.
I don't expect to everyone to agree with my parenting choices or my spiritual beliefs. But implying that teaching a child not to masturbate is going to somehow ruin their perception of their bodies is absolutely not true.
I agree I will never support or teach masturbation. I have never masturbated, I was a virgin when I got married, and I have an awesome sex life. I have never had a complex about my body. There is definitely a way to teach appropriate behavior without shaming a kid and teaching them their body is dirty. I hope to teach my kids that sex is awesome! But that is it also sacred and that sex and activities that encourage arousal should only be between husband and wife.