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My daughter age 7, was spending the night with a girl friend tonight, and the mother walked in the room and found them kissing. They also had touched each others privates. When she asked them if they knew that was wrong they said yes. So she asked why they had done it anyway and they said they did not know. How should this be handled and is this normal. I nor the other mother were ever involved in this type of situation as a child.


Beverly Willett Replied: First, let me say that I'm not an expert in this area, but I do have two children of my own and I've been around a lot of kids over the years as well as written in the parenting area. But your concern and obvious interest in handling this delicate situation is well-placed. And your restraint in not immediately "freaking out" is admirable. To begin, I'd say that we all know kids are curious, curious about oh so many things including their bodies. "Normal" is a relative term, but I think being curious about our bodies is perfectly normal. Obviously, though, it can go beyond that. All you need do is look at our TV, movies, our billboards, the covers of magazines our children see at eye level whenever they walk into a store with us, to know that at a very young age our children are bombarded with sexual messages everywhere they turn. It's unfortunate and a disgrace, and we as parents are left picking up the pieces for our morally bankrupt society. Still, we can't keep our kids under lock and key so it's a problem we have to deal with if their activities start to endanger their normal, healthy instincts. So, again, kids are normally curious about their bodies whatever influences they might also be getting from the media. I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment or inquire about anyone's beliefs about gender roles in our society, so I'm not going to comment about "two girls kissing" in the broader context. But obviously you do need to speak with your child. Keep your cool if you can, stay neutral. You want to try and build as open a channel of communication as you can and staying calm will help. You don't want to give your daughter the impression that all physical encounters are wrong; the key is time and place and age appropriate. It's okay to give mom and dad and your relatives a hug. It's okay for grownups to kiss. These things per se are not "wrong." That's a message I would try and get across. At her age, it's not a good idea. It's hard to tell your daughter not to have a feeling that she has, though. The key is learning to control it, giving her the ability to develop self-control and restraint as she grows up. Optimally, you should try and convince your daughter to come to you beforehand and talk if she ever has a feeling like this again. You don't want her feeling that she's not normal or bad. Not to scare you, but obviously she needs to be armed against the possibility of physical touching by someone not so probably innocent as her friend. And try not to let her pick up on your fear. If she does, she's less likely to be open with you. Another idea would be to try and replay the situation. Get her to open up about it if she will. Develop strategies with her about options if it were to happen again. What could you do instead? Talk with her about concrete things to say and do right then and there. Try and have her come up with her own ideas so it feels natural to her. "Tell your friend let's go get a snack." Words and options that she can recall on the spot. Finally, I assume the kids are good friends, by the way, and that you'll be wanting to try to coordinate your plan with the other mom so you're on the same page. For the time being, perhaps it's best to keep a closer eye without letting them think you're hovering and try to keep them involved in other activities. Hovering would be a sure sign they'll think they've done something "wrong," might want to hide even further and draw attention to what you want to get their attention off of. In the meantime, try not to worry. I hope this helps.
Posted On 2007-06-05 12:35:25
Margaret Heffernan Replied: I'm sure this is completely normal. Kids are very curious about their sex organs at this age. They explore their own - sometimes in public, which can be a little disconcerting! It isn't something that I would worry about. I would be inclined to ask your daughter what questions she has about sex, and then I'd answer them directly and honestly. She's curious and it's better that she brings her questions to you, knowing she'll get a straight answer, than that she feel she has to go somewhere else to find these things out. My experience is that this subject crops up time and again and if you give factual answers, a lot of the mystery goes out of it, all the anxiety goes out of it and kids move onto other topics that they find, frankly, more interesting.
Posted On 2007-06-01 07:02:14
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