No sex in front of the baby

No sex in front of the baby
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First Published: Fri, Jul 17 2009. 11 54 PM IST

Under covers: Keep your child away from the bed, and get her a cot. AFP
Under covers: Keep your child away from the bed, and get her a cot. AFP
Updated: Fri, Jul 17 2009. 11 54 PM IST
I am the mother of a 17-month child. As we do not have a separate cot or room for him, he sleeps with us in the same bed. My husband and I generally make love after he has slept but there are times when he wakes up and stares at us strangely. Please advise if it is appropriate for us to continue like this. I am always in a dilemma and it is affecting my relationship with my husband. I am not as comfortable making love any more as I fear that this might negatively impact my child’s psychology.
Well, many parents confidently state about this issue: “They don’t understand anything till they are older”. I beg to differ. I wouldn’t assume that—it seems only a convenient assumption that “babies don’t register such things”. And, particularly, if the child is staring right at you, I think you definitely need to take the action elsewhere.
Under covers: Keep your child away from the bed, and get her a cot. AFP
First, it needs to be something that both you and your husband should address together. Too many men are impatient with their wife’s hesitation on this front, and take it as a personal slight and rejection. Time for your husband to grow up, now that he is a father. How your having sex in the same room affects the baby is his problem too, isn’t it?
And make no mistake, it does affect babies. Many Western parenting experts and websites state that having sex with a baby in the room is not an issue at all. “Don’t worry about having sex while the baby is in the same room. She won’t have a clue what’s going on,” many of them say confidently. However, psychiatrist and counsellor clinics are overflowing with people who, as babies and toddlers, simply could not process what they witnessed. It has usually led to a deep-rooted fear/anger/disgust with one or the other parent.
An important point here is, if you are planning to be open and easy about your body, nudity, talk about sex, physical display of affection between husband and wife, etc., in your future life with your child, there is some (vague) justification for your having sex in the room just now. However, most Indian families are so very puritanical and unwilling to be easy about any of those things that a child then finds it even more difficult to process what he or she has seen in the bedroom between the parents during his or her early years.
Of course, in our overpopulated country, with frequently cramped living conditions, many children perforce witness the sexual act in some form at some time. However, since you wrote in and are aware that this could be a problem, and are also increasingly uncomfortable with it, you need to stop.
The child being in the same bed as you is a real no-no. If possible, get him a cot. And you and your husband could think of other places in the house to use. Think of going away on a weekend together, leaving your baby with one of your parents or any willing family member, so that you can be fully available physically and emotionally to each other for a while, outside of your home situation and certainly away from your baby.
Gouri Dange is the author of The ABCs of Parenting.
Send in your queries to Gouri at learningcurve@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Jul 17 2009. 11 54 PM IST
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