Making Love When You Have Teens in the Home

Although many parents’ nightmare is being discovered mid-sexual encounter by their children, the reality is that if your young children were to hear something, they likely wouldn’t have a clue what they heard. I even wrote about how one of my kids, younger back then, mistook some intimate noises for cat meows. Yep, that’s right, kid — it’s the cat! *wink-wink*

But what about when your kids become teenagers? Assuming you did your job, or assuming they’ve ever left home and interacted in the real world, they know about sex. If you have sex while they’re home and they hear something, they might well put two and two together and realize you’re in there becoming one flesh.

How can we ever make love when our teens are in the house? And awake? Because have you noticed they also stay up way later than those toddlers and elementary kids? So much for waiting until they fall asleep.

Starting with my guide in all things sex, the Bible — yep, that’s right, the Bible — I have to say it’s a little disappointing there’s no verse in the Song of Songs where the Beloved says, “Hey, Lover, if you want to have sex, we need to do something with these kids!”

But I think there are parenting principles that can be applied even to the bedroom.

A Do No Disturb sign on a white door + blog post title

If they know you make love, they better understand godly marriage. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We parents have heard this one, right? I bet you never thought about applying that verse to how you model intimacy in marriage.

Of course, you’re not actually training your child to have sex, but our best teaching comes through modeling. Our kids are watching us. Their most prevalent example of what a marriage looks like is the one they see every day between the parents in their home. If they see you date, see you flirt and touch, see honesty and respect, and note that sometimes you disappear to the bedroom for alone time, that’s all good stuff. They’re getting a good sense of what God intended for this covenant relationship called marriage.

So relax when you consider that your teens might actually know you have sex . . . because that’s a good thing. Of course, we don’t want to share details — making love is a private matter between husband and wife — but the idea of it happening in their home is a good example to set. It trains them in the way they should go: realizing marriage is the place where sex should happen and intimate beauty awaits when they follow God’s plan.

It’s not their house, it’s yours. Proverbs 19:14 says: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” What does that have to do with sex for your marriage when you have teens in the house? The verse says that houses are inherited from parents — as in the house does not belong to your kids now. They can have it later. Right now, it’s yours, and your name is on the mortgage and/or deed. It’s time to be that prudent wife and remember you own every inch of that house, not your teens.

Sometimes we parents tiptoe around this issue and our kids so much, we almost feel like we need to squeeze ourselves into the very back corner of our house away from everyone to enjoy a little nookie. But I felt a massive mental shift when I remembered that we own the house, pay the bills, and provide everything our children need on a daily basis — including a bedroom to retreat to. Moreover, they have headphones to plug into this, that, and whatever, effectively drowning out whatever noise might be occurring in their home. Frankly, if we wanted to claim the living room for the next half-hour for a wild encounter of “hot monkey love,” the people who need to leave are our children. They didn’t pay for that space, we did.

Would I do that? No, of course not! But that realization freed me up to decide that making love in our bedroom was not infringing on their space. If they somehow realize something’s going on or even hear noises, they can go to their bedroom or shove on headphones and effectively ignore it.

Be courteous and private. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Although this verse refers specifically to fathers, we moms can take this important advice too.

Yes, your kids should see you demonstrating love and affection. Yes, it’s fine and good for them to know you make love. Yes, you have every right to have sex when and where you want to in your own home. But no, you shouldn’t knowingly make life more difficult for your teenagers.

How many of you had an up-close encounter with your parents’ sex life growing up? In fact, raise your hand if you figured out, or (heaven forbid) saw, an intimate moment between your parents — and have the cringe-worthy memories. My hand is up. Thankfully, however, it was a small thing, an accident — and awkward, not exasperating. But if parents are constantly announcing they’re going to have sex or screaming like banshees in the bedroom, that can reach the level of annoying, rude, and exasperating.

Be courteous and private. Go to your bedroom or another tucked-away place for the heavy affection. Lock the bedroom door, and establish a policy of no interruptions except for blood, vomit, or fire. Turn on music or white noise or some other sound cover. If you need to wait a few minutes for your teens to be otherwise occupied (like starting the movie they’re about to watch) or to go to bed, just wait. Take advantage of alone times in the house. (Church youth events have been a real boon to our marital intimacy!) Don’t stop making love if they’re in the house, but practice courtesy and privacy.

Don’t give up being sexually intimate with your spouse because you have teens in the house. Talk regularly to them about what true sexual intimacy should be, and they’ll likely assume you’re practicing it in your own marriage. Then when you want to make love, they’ll probably cooperate enough to get out of your way. They want you to be happy in your marriage, but yeah, they don’t want to know the details.

What have you found works? How can we remain sexually intimate in our marriages when we have teens in the home?

37 thoughts on “Making Love When You Have Teens in the Home

  1. Keelie Reason

    As a teenager, I was well aware that my parents were sexually intimate. Not because I heard them all the time, but because they told me. Sure, there were occasions in which I heard them, but it didn’t mortify me or hurt me.

    I don’t have teenagers in my house yet, but coming from a teen that had active parents in that department, I would say you are right, be courteous. If they hear a bit of noise, then they will figure out a way to tune it out.

    In my opinion, it is healthy for young kids and teens to see their parents being affectionate toward one another. It is really important to be a model to your teens. They should know that you don’t just go hop in the bed when you are married. There is a lot of intimacy that takes place during the day. Not just physical, but through every aspect of life.

    I regularly saw my parents being kind and considerate of each other. It would have made no sense to me if I didn’t know they were having sex. The occasional time I heard a noise was actually really reassuring to me that sex is good and a part of marriage.

    Of course, they never tried to be inappropriate, but boy did their filters go down when I was a late teen. I think they felt like they didn’t have to be as cautious, because I was old enough to remove myself from an awkward situation. If that makes sense. 🙂

    1. J Post author

      Makes perfect sense. And yes, I think the onus shifts a little to teens being considerate in return to their parents. Thanks, Keelie. And YAY, Keelie’s parents! 🙂

  2. Jennifer

    We have 5 children ages 20-12. This article was very timely. We apply everything you mentioned. Those earbuds were the most fantastic inventions! 🙂

  3. Sarah

    Growing up, my parents used to use the “wait till the kids were in bed” trick. The problem is I was rarely asleep when things would occur. My room was underneath my parents bedroom and they had an old squeaky mattress so it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together. I used to tell them that while I thought it was great they were still “getting it on”, I didn’t like hearing it. I fell asleep many nights with headphones on

    My brother had similar run-ins. One night when my brother was 10ish, he heard them and he went and knocked on their door. He heard the old squeaky mattress going and asked them if they were jumping on the bed. We still tease him about it even now 🙂

    1. J Post author

      Hmmm. Maybe I should have advised putting a little WD-40 oil on the creaky bed. LOL. Thanks, Sarah!

  4. Jason

    J,

    It sounds like even when your kids were younger they knew that sex in marriage is the cat’s meow.

  5. Arbrown

    THank you so much for this post. With 3 teens in the house- I so needed this. Will be sharing with hubby who works nights which is another challenge.:)

      1. Dave

        In Australia, that phrase has a totally different meaning. It’s related to this post, but very different to how you have applied it here.

  6. JAMES WITTER

    Yes we have teens in our house and they know we have sex..We had asked if they have heard anything when we are having sex. They told us the door rattles but it did not bother her she just put in her ear buds and turned up her radio. My daughters room is next to ours and our sons room is futher down the hall.Our other daughter is now away at college but she said that she had heard us but it really did not bother her.

  7. Anonymous

    As a teenager growing, I never suspected that my parents were having sex. I never heard anything. They also never showed any affection (hugs, kissing) in front of us kids. Very sad.

    I do not know if my daughters as teenagers suspected my wife and I having sex. They never mentioned anything to my wife…

    1. J Post author

      Teens probably won’t bring it up if they do know. But if they see you and your wife being affectionate and flirtatious, they probably suspect. Best wishes!

  8. Cassie

    Great post! Our little one is only 8 months old and we have already started wondering about this kind of thing. I do have to say I think our sex has woke her up before…oops! But Ryan and I have talked about how we want to handle sex in our house as our kids get older. We feel like some kids grow up in a home where they never talked about it and it creates complexes that are not healthy. Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. J Post author

      I’m just highlighting this sentence, because I like it so much: “We feel like some kids grow up in a home where they never talked about it and it creates complexes that are not healthy.” Yes! So very true. Thanks, Cassie. Blessings!

  9. Bob L

    When my daughter was 6 years old she walked in on us while we were “playing”. We thought the door was locked – actually it was locked – but we were so focused on “playing” that we did not shut the door to the point of it actually latching. The door swung open (luckily we were under the covers) and she jumped on the bed saying “Can I play too?”
    We can laugh about it now but it did change how we “played” that afternoon.
    I had forgotten about it until a few weeks ago she brought up the whole event. She is now 30 with a set of 6 year old twin girls. My wife blushed and tried to deny things – but my daughter let her know that years later she had finally figured out what we were doing. LOL
    She was asking how we got our time in when she and her 2 brothers were younger. I think she may have had a similar situation.

  10. Theresa

    I would love to print this post out in a very large, bold font and fasten it to my husband’s pillow! Even though I’m the introvert, he’s the one who’s much more shy about sex, and he’s constantly worrying that our last at-home teen (now 18 and soon to graduate high school and move off to college) will hear us. What he doesn’t seem to understand is how distracting it can be to try so hard to be quiet or keep the bed from squeaking. Definitely makes it tough to let go and enjoy.

    1. J Post author

      Just one more year… And don’t let those kids move back home! LOL. Blessings, Theresa!

  11. Eric Wiggin

    Here I am at 75, married 52 years, and I’ve never had any of my four kids say they heard us (they probably have). But something I heard while working in a high school classroom as a substitute teacher a few years ago restored my hope that not all teens are freaked out by parents having sex. It was an all-girls class of second-year Spanish, and the dozen or so girls had their work done, so I let them talk a bit.
    “I heard my grandparents having sex last weekend.” My ears were better then, and I heard the girl–she was about 16–correctly. “I think that is really cool,” she added, as several others smiled and nodded in agreement. She went on to say that she had slept on the porch that night, and Grandma hadn’t closed the window all the way.

    I knew this conversation wasn’t intended for the teacher, but I had to know. “How old are your grandparents?” I wondered aloud. “Late sixties,” she said, with no apparent embarrassment. Well, I was then in MY late sixties, and we still had sex (still do now, too), but I was sure it would be inappropriate to say so, so I just chuckled and said , “thanks.”

    Eric

  12. Lina

    LOL – my husband makes SO MUCH NOISE that he doesn’t want to have the grandkids over for an evening because it means…abstinence!

    1. Eric Wiggin

      Re not wanting the grandkids to hear (like the teen girl I mentioned in my post above), my wife and are both well past 70, and we have slowed down to once a week or less, but we can still be noisy! We also have our own “kid at home” situation. Three years ago this month we took in a troubled boy of 17, and now 20, he’s still with us, and he attends automotive tech classes at a local college, so we’ll probably keep him until he finishes and gets a job.

      About once a week, though, we encourage our house guest to spend the night with his married sister, whose husband moved out months ago. We can then be as crazy as we wish. Fun & games aren’t limited to young couples, nor should they be. All too soon DW and I will be at the place where holding hands from our rocking chairs will be all we can manage.

      Eric

  13. MG

    Growing up I was very unsure about my parents’ relationship. As a teenager who was starting to understand what a healthy, happy marriage “should” look like, I would have been thrilled if my parents had told me and my siblings it was time for a ‘kids night out’ and not to be back before 9. I am thankful for recent improvements I have seen in their marriage, but for years I worried about them. It really can be very reassuring to children to know that their parents love each other! (Careful with the trauma, of course.)

    Now I’m married and we don’t have kids yet, so usually there’s no concern. But I’m sure this post will come in handy in a few years! 🙂

  14. Tammy

    I have two teens in the home (14 &16). Waiting on immigration to have my husband join us, full time. Needless to say: on our rare visits, being 1200 miles apart, we sure like to be extra “cuddly”. I think that I’m the one that is usually nervous that we’ll traumatize the kids. He says that they know, it’s okay. But I am always thinking that knowing and KNOWING are entirely different things. I believe that this post will help bring my mind around. Finally. I’m tired of tiptoeing. 😀 The kids do see affection between us in a million different ways, so I’m sure they “know” anyhow.

  15. Victoria

    From a young age I knew my parents actively had sex. I swear I always had perfect timing and they never locked their door, lol! Though, I have to say other than the shock of the “oops, sorry” moment and shuting the door… I was never really embarrassed for either party. Sure I didn’t know what was going on when I was younger but when I got older I just laughed and my parents learned to laugh as well, especially when my brother walked in on them….cracked us all up! I guess I always put sex and happiness within a marriage together, even at a young age. So it never bothered me they had sex, even when my room was next to theirs I would do as you wrote listen to something or go to a different room because honestly if they were happy I was happy.
    So yeah I was raised in a house where my parents actively have sex. DId it ever bother me, nope not one bit. They showed me a great example and continue to do so.

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  17. Nicoletta

    What are some things parents can do for adult children approaching marriage, to prepare them for the sexual aspect of marriage?

    1. J Post author

      Good question. I haven’t received that one before. Let me think on it, maybe even write a post, and I’ll get back to you here. Thanks, Nicoletta! (And congrats for the upcoming nuptials.)

      1. Romeo

        I start talking about how fun it is when they start dating seriously or before and before they get married I share with them a long letter I wrote about it encouraging good sex in marriage. They really appreciate that and I have done that with 5 so far and have 6 to go and really look forward to the talk I have when i read them the letter out loud and make comments about it,. Sharing with them details about the importance of lots of good sex in marriage.

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  19. Brendon Best

    What an interesting read! My parents were quite the love birds! We knew as kids that when mommy and daddy locked that bedroom door things got heated. I remember once though discovering their stash of ‘stuff’ (condoms et al) and was completely mortified and grossed out! I still remember me thinking “Oh God they’re having sex!!!” Lol Both my parents were quite open about the topic whoch has really been a plus for me! My dad in particular taught me the ‘secrets’ of intimacy by being a life long romantic and that treating my mom, his one and only should be a life long pursuit! Sex begins in the kitchen son!

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