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Should Parents Lock Door When Making Love?

By Martha and Howard Lewis

QUESTION: My husband and I are wondering if we should lock our bedroom door when we're making love. If we don't, what should we do if our child accidentally walks in on us?

ANSWER: We referred your question to Shirley Zussman, Ed.D., a sex educator and therapist in New York City. Here are her suggestions for you:

Why Announce It?

In my opinion, parents' bedroom doors should always be closed, not just for lovemaking. Why announce to your children what you're doing, by closing the door only when you're making love?

In addition, the bedroom should be a place where both husband and wife can share some private moments, some time to talk, to listen, or just lie quietly together, without concern about interruption.

Teach Children To Respect Privacy

Even at an early age, children can be taught to respect privacy and to knock before entering a room. It won't be long before they will want their own privacy respected.

If knocking at the door is a hard lesson for them to learn, a lock can be helpful. For the parents, it creates a feeling of relaxation that makes lovemaking more enjoyable. Worrying about a child barging in can create problems that interfere with sexual pleasure.

If Child Interrupts You

If a child does accidentally interrupt a sexual encounter, don't panic. He or she won't be marred for life. Your reaction of shock or even anger may be more harmful than anything the child may have seen or heard.

Most parents are disconcerted when they are "caught in the act," so to speak. You might lead your child back to his or her bed, stay for a few moments to reassure them that everything is all right, and save talking about the incident for the next day.

Say It Wasn't Fighting

Most important is for the child to understand that what he saw was not unfriendly or hostile. His parents were not trying to hurt each other, as it might have looked or sounded.

It is important, too, to get some idea of how the child viewed the incident, as he may be more upset about your startled reaction than anything else. Your anxiety or overeagerness to explain the situation may only reinforce whatever anxiety the child may be experiencing.

Explain and Reassure

Of course, circumstances vary, and this needs to be recognized in talking to the child. In general, if children have been exposed to parental intercourse, they need an age-adequate explanation of making love and reassurance about any misconceptions of what they saw.

Single parents have a special situation to explain if the partner is someone the child does not know or has seen only infrequently.

Above all, it may be an opportunity to teach the principle of knocking at the door, and to explain to the child that he has the right to expect you to do the same.

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