What To Do When Your Kid Walks In On You Having Sex

For a second there, life was pretty good. You and your partner were intertwined and doing what came naturally at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Then, a frightened little voice rang out from the corner of the room and hit you like a bucket of ice water. Your child caught you having sex. Suddenly, you have to make a hairpin turn from super freak to super dad.

When your kid walks in on you having sex, you’ll likely have some explaining to do. But Deborah Roffman emphasizes that it doesn’t have to be a crisis. Roffman has advised parents and kids alike on sex and human sexuality since 1971, both in her work as a sexuality educator at the Park School of Baltimore, and as an author of Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ ‘Go-To’ Person About Sex.

The first thing you need to do, she says, is relax — calm responsiveness is the key to diffusing this classic awkward situation. Take a breath and try not to blurt out something dumb, like: “We were just practicing Tae Kwon Do!” That’ll haunt you later — especially when the Tae Kwon Do instructor calls to find out why your kid is dry-humping the punching bags.

Here, per Roffman, is what else will help.

1. Pull Up the Sheet And Contain the Situation

Your first instinct after being caught in the act will be to get less naked. That’s fine, but don’t let your body language send the wrong signals. Even though you’re startled, you have to force yourself to chill out. Otherwise, your kid will pick up on your anxiety and think something terrible has happened. Channel your inner Fred Rogers and, with your most measured tone, explain the reason for your initial reaction. Roffman suggests saying something along the lines of: ‘We were really surprised to see you there. We thought we were alone, and we probably reacted in a very strong way that you saw.’

2. Try to Judge Your Kid’s Emotions

Figure out what brought your child into your room. Were they seeking comfort after waking from a nightmare? Investigating the dying Rhino sounds coming from your room? Whatever the case, read your kid’s emotions and temper the conversation to that. “The important thing to do is look at the child’s face if you can,” says Roffman. They may be confused, frightened, or just kind of weirded-out. “If you have the presence of mind to do that, it will guide the conversation.”

3. Down Shift to Dad Mode

If your kid is scared after seeing your sweaty bodies, Roffman says ask them to come into the bed for a reassuring hug. Yes, this seems like a gross move, considering the business that was happening a second ago. But business hours are over, baby. You’re setting the tone for this situation. Remember, your kid’s perspective of what was happening is vastly different from yours. It’s only weird if you act like it’s weird — which is also good advice when you resume activities.

If you’re uncomfortable with giving hugs in that exact moment, Roffman suggests deferring the conversation slightly. “You could send the child to their room and say you’ll be there in 30 seconds,” she says. “That might feel more comfortable from your perspective.” This helps creates a clear mental boundary between kinky time and kiddie time, and gives you time to make the shift.

4. Say Something

The key to managing this moment is to collect yourself and be direct without exposing too much. You can breathe into a paper bag afterward. “The first thing a parent can say is that they are having some private time with each other, so if you can leave and close the door, that would be great,” says Roffman. “It can be as simple as that.” Your success will vary with the age of your kid. A 6-year-old will have a more sophisticated understanding of privacy than a 4-year-old.

5. Resist the Temptation to Lie

When you do have that talk, be straightforward. Don’t concoct a cover story. Your kid has seen WWE matches, and if you and mommy were “wrestling,” you have a pretty weak finishing move. Dishonesty does nothing but set a bad precedent about your truthfulness. “That’s more like denial on some level,” says Roffman. “It’s saying that what happened didn’t happen. And the child can plainly see that there was more going on than that.”

6. Be Straightforward About What They Saw

All right, this is where the rubber meet the road. You might feel like lying through your teeth, but be honest. “It’s important not to teach children anything that they’re going to have to unlearn later,” she says. She suggests telling them something truthful that doesn’t give away a lot of detail, such as “We were having a little bit of adult fun underneath the covers.”

7. Maintain An Honest Dialogue

Kids are naturally curious, and parents should encourage them to ask follow-up questions — but schedule that press conference after you put on some pants. Some adults think knowing too much about sex too soon can be harmful for children, but the opposite is true. Parents who have ongoing conversations about sex and approach it as a fact of life actually prevent future risky behavior.

“Children raised this way postpone first sexual experiences until they have more of a maturity needed to handle it well,” says Roffman. “People who know how to think about something make more cautious, deliberate, and thoughtful decisions.”