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Hands off, Little Boy!

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My son has a habit that he just won't quit....

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"Dani, does...uh...Gabriel ever take his hands out his pants?" a father of one of the little girls in my 5-year-old's pre-school class asked me recently when I came to pick him up from a playdate.

"Yes." I said. "To eat. Sometimes. Unless it's something he can eat with one hand."

It's not like I didn't know about where Gabriel likes to keep his hands. Although this was the first I was hearing about it from another parent.

"Oh," the Dad continued, "yeah... 'cause he was watching cartoons on the couch with Monica, for I don't know, like almost two hours, and he didn't take them out the whole time...and....you know...ha ha ha," It was a forced chuckle that managed to incorporate "it's really weird" with "that lucky bastard."

"Gabriel, honey, Monica's Daddy told me you had your hands in your pants watching TV on the couch," I said to him a few minutes later in the car.

"Oh. We watched Ben Ten, Mom. HA HA." He knows I don't like shows with tiny sarcastic brats in them, animated or otherwise, so this was a good distraction ploy on his part.

"That's for private time, OK honey? That's for when you're in your room." I was surprised to find myself parroting what my husband, Tod, always tells him. We haven't set a formal "hands in your pants" policy, but "in your room" sounded good. Is it wrong that I don't really care where he puts his hands as long as they are not around another kids' neck? Or down their pants?

Maybe I'm too laissez faire, I considered, stuck in traffic with too much time to think. After all, I don't want parents whispering to each other, "Don't have Gabriel over, he'll jerk off on your couch," that kind of thing. Also, isn't it part of my job as a parent, to help my child get along in the world? But isn't it also my job to help him feel comfortable with his body and enjoy himself? And pleasuring oneself is one of life's more reliable pleasures.

HELP!

Dani Klein Modisett is the mom of two boys, and the creator/producer of Afterbirth...Stories You Won't Read in Parents Magazine.




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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous June 13, 2008, 10:21 AM

“isn’t it part of my job as a parent, to help my child get along in the world? But isn’t it also my job to help him feel comfortable with his body and enjoy himself?”

Yes and yes, but just as it’s not acceptable for you to masturbate in public he needs to learn the limits as well. I’m kind of surprised your sons friends parents didn’t say anything to him about it because I would have. Like ‘do you need to go to the bathroom?’ (I don’t allow other children to pick their noses in front of me either) But really you as his parent should be setting those limits for him and teaching him about whats publically acceptable.

salma June 13, 2008, 10:56 AM

Do you really want to teach him that masturbating at age 5 is OK? What happens at age 11 or 12 when he is no longer satisfied with masturbating and starts to touch others? Isn’t 5 too early for children to think about sex and what feels good? What ever happened to telling your child not to do that and encouraging him to be a child. Encourage him to play with toys not himself!

jess June 13, 2008, 12:16 PM

really i dont think it qualifys as masturbating, its not like a 5 yr old is gonna orgasm, i have a 3 yr old who recently went through a phase where he wanted to sit on all his stuffed animals that were really soft, the more i had told him not to do it, the more i found him doing it, i hardly seen the boy some days. but i asked my doc what she thought, yes she said distinguish for him its a private matter, and should only be done in his room, but once i stopped ridiculing him about it i guess it lost its thrill, he has his hands in his pants just like every other little boy in the world exploring his stuff, i tell him that is not proper and how he gets his boys germs on his hands, and how he cannot touch anything especially his little brother till he washes them. and give him a toy or something else to do with his hands other than have them free when watching tv or whatever he may be doing and it keeps them occupied.
but i do agree the parent of the other child should have commented on his behavior and told him to stop, if it took more than once o well but at least he would have gotten the idea not to keep it up.

A guy June 13, 2008, 3:36 PM

Yes, some guys actually read these things, haha. As a 24 year old, I still put my hands in my pants when I get the chance (I’m a poet). And honestly, 90% of the time, it’s not masturbating, I don’t even think of it as sexual. Normally it’s just something to do, we’re born with a built-in (or on?) toy and when we have nothing else to do, we’ll just play. It’s the same idea as sucking a thumb. Those kids get stimulation through their finger and lips. Some kids (vast majority male) get stimulation through their genitals. When this happens (especially when doing something passive like watching TV), it’s not done for achieving orgasm or anything of the sort, it’s just something to do. My wife is always asking me why I do it, and I just tell her I don’t know, because I’m not really getting any gratification from it, I just want something to do with my hand(s). I hope this clears it up a little bit.

Jeff June 13, 2008, 9:54 PM

Are you saying masturbation is a gateway sex drug?
Silly.

Adriana Charmat August 31, 2008, 11:18 PM

Maybe those men and boys who are sticking their hands in their pants because they have nothing to do should stop watching so much television. Do something constructive like help the lady of the house, read a book, write a letter to a relative or exercise. Lots of things you can do to improve yourself and help someone besides placing all that attention on “your toy”.

Anonymous April 8, 2009, 10:55 PM

“Also, isn’t it part of my job as a parent, to help my child get along in the world? But isn’t it also my job to help him feel comfortable with his body and enjoy himself? And pleasuring oneself is one of life’s more reliable pleasures.”

He doesn’t need to “pleasure” himself. He’s five years old! What is going on with people today? I doubt he spends long hours in hot masturbation sessions. He’s five! He’s probably just fallen into a habit of what feels comfortable to him. Grown men like to stick one or both hands down their pants when they’re relaxing in the evening, it doesn’t mean they’re masturbating. Quit sexualizing the behavior and make sure he understands what is considered acceptable - you’re the parent, that’s your duty and you can train his habits while he’s still under your care. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for your child’s behavior for chrissake, it’s your job.


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