Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mastery and Masturbation

A couple years ago I noticed our son, who had just turned nine years old, was regularly putting his hands in his pockets. It looked like he was scratching his groin area. I asked him about it because he was doing it regularly, unashamedly. He told me it was itchy in that area. His dad checked it out to see if he had a rash or something. It didn't appear he had anything going on medically, but he continued to put his hands in his pockets and scratch.

A few weeks later I started getting the feeling that I needed to discuss masturbation with our son. This seemed a little early to me, but I heeded the feeling.

Me: I've noticed that even though we can't seem to find a rash, you are still scratching around your penis and scrotum. Is it still bothering you?
K: No. I guess I'm just used to scratching.
Me: Does it feel good to touch yourself on or near your scrotum and penis?
K: No.
Me: Well, for a lot of people it can feel good. Those body parts were made to feel good. I just want to find out if we need to take you to the doctor and get you checked out, or if it's just something you like to do.
K: Well, I guess it can feel okay.
Me: (I was trying not to lead him, but I could also tell he thought he was supposed to say that it didn't feel good. He thought that was the right answer and what I was looking for, even though it wasn't). Have you ever heard the word masturbation?
K: No.
Me: Masturbation is when someone rubs their own private parts, like a penis or vulva, so they can get special good feelings that come from these parts.
K: I didn't know that.
Me: Do you remember what these parts were created for?
K: They are for creating a family, making babies.
Me: Right. I just wanted to let you know what masturbation is and how we believe we should handle the feelings that come from these body parts.
K: Okay.
Me: Heavenly Father created these body parts to feel good. He did create them for us to have babies, but he also created them to give a husband and wife a special way to show their love. The experiences you have with a husband or wife in using these body parts bond you and give you happier feelings toward each other. It is supposed to feel good to touch these parts because you are already in love with the person you are married to, and touching these parts feels good in a way that helps you feel more in love with each other. It keeps you happy together and is a special way that only you and your husband or wife show love.
K: Oh. I didn't know that.
Me: Since these body parts are a way to show love, we believe that we should save those special feelings that come from touching these body parts for when we are married. We can clean them and take care of them, but we wait for marriage for them to be touched in those ways that feel good.
K: Okay. I didn't know that.
Me: Are there other times you rub your penis or scrotum?
K: Well, when I go to bed at night I rub it to help me fall asleep.
Me: Do you think you can find another thing to rub or something different to do at bedtime to help you fall asleep? You used to pet your puppy animal, but you've outgrown that. Do you have any ideas?
K: I'll try something else.

It's been over a year since that conversation and he quickly stopped rubbing himself. He had been doing it as a comforting technique. As he got older, it could have turned into masturbation. I am so grateful I heeded the feelings I was having because I didn't realize he was doing this at bedtime as a soothing mechanism. Being able to talk to him about what we believe was all he need to change his habits. He has a testimony of the importance of families, marriage, and sex in marriage, but he didn't realize that touching himself in that way was inappropriate. I just needed to connect the concepts and his testimony of marriage helped him understand why. I didn't shame him or get upset. In fact, I hope he has even more respect for these body parts since he understands now that they are supposed to feel good.

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