Human sexuality is immensely complex. Some estimates, accurate or inaccurate, say that 50% of the contents of the Internet are sexually related materials. Sigmund Freud, believed that almost all human behavior was sexually motivated. He is the father of psychotherapy. He was wrong about many things; women are not inferior to men. He was right about many other things.
Like it or not, your 12-year-old son is becoming a sexual being. Sexual thoughts and feelings are awakening within him. Unfortunately, a parent today has to deal with the vast availability of sexual materials found on the Internet. His interest in understanding sexuality is normal. His choice of investigative materials is unfortunate, but this does not necessarily mean that what he has found, or at least what you have found of his, is indicative of his future sexual proclivities. What you have found may simply be a tiny part of what he has viewed and may not be representative of his interests.
Americans in particular, followed closely by Western Europeans, tend to deny the true sexual nature of being human. Americans are the worst offenders. We have difficulty being honest about our sexual feelings and sexual practices. We can giggle about sex but find it exceedingly difficult to have an honest discussion of sex.
In my practice as a therapist and as a professor, I often encounter the “liberated, modern” parent who sees themselves differently from the repressed, puritanical, parents of the past. They think they are quite enlightened about sexuality and will have no problem whatsoever discussing sex with their children.
Their confidence, in themselves, is often misplaced. Are they really enlightened parents who are prepared to discuss and answer questions raised by their children? I have a simple test for them, to see if they are adequately prepared.
I start off with some simple questions to the parent. I ask, “Do you believe that masturbation is normal?”
They always answer, “Yes.”
I then ask, “Do you agree that most people masturbate regularly?”
Again they always answer, “Yes.”
Notice I haven’t asked them any personal questions, questions about their own behaviors. I have deliberately kept this blatantly objective. Nothing personal needed to be revealed.
I then ask them:
- “At what age will you tell your child that it is okay for them to masturbate?”
- “How often is okay?”
- “What specific behaviors are okay to engage in when masturbating?”
- “What are they supposed to think about when they masturbate?”
At that point these “enlightened modern parents” realize that when it comes to sexuality, their future discussions with their children will prove to be most challenging. Perhaps this is why parents throughout modern history, have chosen not to discuss sexuality with their children.
Maybe just ignore it altogether. Maybe just answer the big questions about pregnancy.
You are facing the same issues now with your child. His interest in sexuality is evident. You need to guide him, in whatever way you feel appropriate, towards developing him into a healthy male adult.
It is dangerous to place any object into his rectum. That should be the easy part. A simple “don’t do that” should suffice. You should also make him aware of what you consider to be normal sexual behavior. Raping anyone is abnormal, disgusting and criminal.
He is your child and your values, not mine, are all that is important.
If we are at all honest, we would admit that sexuality is still a very touchy subject and particularly so in our American society.
I wish you the very best of luck. You sound like a very good mother. Don’t hesitate to get more advice from a therapist local to you.
Dr. Kristina Randle