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.
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?