In Other Words: “I Caught My Son With the Vacuum Cleaner”

This letter is from a recent Dear Prudence column and it makes me uncomfortable.

I came home early from work on Friday to the unexpected sound of the vacuum cleaner running in my 12-year-old son’s room. Thinking that perhaps this was a sign of the apocalypse — my son cleaning his room without major nagging on my part — I burst in there and caught him with his pants down and the hose attachment attached to his, well, you know. He froze like a deer in the headlights and, after picking my jaw up off the floor, I mumbled something stupid like “excuse me” and turned around and walked out and hid in my room. He left to go to his dad’s for the weekend shortly thereafter. He will be home tomorrow night after school and I don’t know what to say to him. Actually, do I have to say anything to him or can I just act as though this never happened and not say anything about it at all? (I much prefer option two, by the way.) What do you think?


You can read Prudie’s response here. I actually agree with her. I say let the dad do the dirty work of saying, “Hey, it’s totally normal to diddle your daddle, but keep mom’s appliances out of it. Not only is that a conflict of interest, it’s potentially dangerous too. Stick to the hand for now.” Whatever the mom does, I’d tell her NOT to be like this mom. Creepy.


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  1. Why I am taken to YouTube? Please tell me that link isn’t something the mother put online about her son.

  2. I agree, I think a talk with Dad would help in this situation. Man you could do some damage with a vacuum!

    And yeah the Mom in the video might have meant well but her delivery was creepy creepy.

    1. anonymous says:

      Can you synopsize? Can’t watch the video now…kids, etc. And I can’t WAIT!

      1. basically creepy 70s Mom telling her kid it was ok to be feeling what he was feeling while looking and acting like a zombie(ish). and the kid had this weird drugged look the entire time. creepy psa, creepy. hopefully not too many teenagers had to watch that in school!

  3. lets_be_honest says:

    Is it bad that I would want to pretend it never happened too? Yikes, how embarrassing for all.

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      Not bad at all. I don’t think the mom should address it. Pass it off to the dad if she’s concerned about it. I can’t imagine my dad walking in on me using a household object and then trying to talk to me about it. Mortifying. She invaded his privacy by busting into the room during his private moment, so I don’t think she has a right to talk about it really.

      1. By her letter, she didn’t know it was a private moment, and she doesn’t want to talk about it, she just wants to do right by her kid. I don’t know that I’d call it an invasion of privacy. At the least it should teach the kid to lock his door whilst meditating =)

      2. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, I agree. She didn’t intend to invade his privacy, but that’s what happened (or at least that what it probably feels like to him). They should both treat it like the mistake it was. He should learn to lock the door, and she should learn to knock. But now that it’s out in the open, she should respect his privacy in dealing with this.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Offer to discuss it though?
        I ask thinking that if it were my daughter (big difference, imo), I would feel like I should ask if she wants to talk or has questions. I guess no need to if you’ve already had the birds and bees talk though.

      4. Yeah, I think the point is that no boy that age is going to appreciate his mom’s offer to talk about this. So, if the dad does it, it’ll be much better received.

      5. Why would you think that your daughter would want to discuss it any more than your son would? It’s still a private moment that most people (all people?) figure out on their own.

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        For the same reason everyone thinks that dad should talk to the son. And I think it’s wise to at least let your kid know they can come to you with anything. Open lines of communication. That sorta thing.

      7. Good point 🙂

      8. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I think it’s more of a same gender thing than it is one gender being more willing to talk about it.

      9. i don’t think she meant to invade his privacy, it sounded like she actually thought he was vacuuming. what he was doing wouldn’t have crossed my mind either! and yes a good time to talk about locking your door or making a knock before entering sign on door for when you don’t want to be interrupted. at 12, i don’t think i was allowed to lock my door though. i could have it shut, but i wasn’t supposed to lock it.

      10. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I didn’t mean that it was an intentional invasion. Just that I’m sure that’s what it felt like to him, so she should try to be respectful of that now and give him some space. If he’s not allowed to lock a door, then they need to come up with a system. 12 year olds definitely need some degree of privacy, so it’s time they figured out what that looks like for them.

      11. yeah i’m going to guess that after that she’s going to knock from now on 😉 and i had a lisa frank door knob thingy that i could put on my door when i was doing super important stuff for a kid. like writing in my diary and organizing my baby-sitter’s club books, haha.

      12. lets_be_honest says:

        So cute.

    2. For everyone saying she should have knocked on the door, if he had the vacuum going, he probably wouldn’t have heard a knock, unless she was really beating on the door. But yeah, after this, even when he *doesn’t* have the vacuum on, she should knock! 🙂

  4. I agree with Prudie for this one, too & as an aside…I hope the dad words it exactly like Wendy did! haha

  5. When this happened to me at age 14 (no vacuum involved), neither I nor my mom EVER spoke of it at all EVER. If she mentioned it to Dad, he never brought it up either. This was a fine solution since I was not at all confused about the activity, and really, what is there to say?

    She did however start knocking before entering my room, something I had been requesting for sometime, so it was a minor victory for me in that sense.

    1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      I think there is a big difference though when he could do potential damage to himself and an expensive household object.

  6. Avatar photo theattack says:

    Definitely getting vacuum ads on my browser after clicking on this…

  7. Agreed. I don’t think the mom or the son want to have that conversation. I’m sure she’s learned her lesson that despite what seems like obvious evidence as to what he is or is not doing, it’s best to knock first. Also, anyone else feel like they wouldn’t want to use the vacuum after that?

    1. Yeah…. I’d be a little freaked out by using the vacuum after that too if I was the mom.

  8. That video…

    “It felt good, didn’t it?”


    As for the talk, I agree that it needs to happen so that the boy doesn’t hurt himself or screw up an expensive appliance but, yeah, let the dad tell the kid that. Mom doesn’t need to be involved anymore (except learning to knock before entering).

  9. You gotta love the stuff you have to deal with as a parent. Ugh lol. I wonder where he got the vacuum idea from? Seems scary and painful!

    1. The vacuum thing has been a part of boy-lore since time immemorial. I knew about it when i was 14 in the late 70s, and only sheer cowardice, not shame, prevented me from trying it. And not to be the Great Educator, but let’s just say that vacuums are FAR from the only idea ever gotten by horny creepy little boys. Some things should just remain unknown, because once you know them, you can’t un-know them. I believe that LK’s *shudder* above says it all…

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I REALLY want to know these other ideas, Diablo. haha

      2. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I want to know too! You’d think I would learn about not digging for too much information after I freaked myself out last night while looking at postnatal healing support forums.

      3. Sorry, but the boy code prohibits me from saying more.

      4. Want some insight into the male mind and what they do when masturbating (among other things)?

        Check out this epic and HILARIOUS Reddit thread, where a user asked for the community contribute their ideas of “things all guys do.” Plenty on there about masturbation habits.

        Plus my new favorite word: Procrasturbating! Jerking off when you have something better to do but don’t want to do it! LOL XD

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        I read that. Then I asked my bf if he tried to clean the toilet with his strong pee stream, seriously expecting him to laugh and say no. He laughed, but said yes.

      6. Wait! There’s something better to do?

        Seriously, KKZ you are betraying the secrets of the brotherhood here. Don’t be surprised if some scientology-like retribution befalls you! (Dear sarcasmically-challenged readers: there is no real threat being made here.)
        And if you wanna do puns, then I have to assert that I am a Master Debater. Deal with that!

      7. Avatar photo Mr. Cellophane says:

        I agree Diablo. Part of boy-lore for years. Like “American Pie”. In the mind of an uber-horny and tragically geeky teenager, anything that “sucks” has to be good. Afterall, that’s what we thought BJ’s were all about!

        I will also admit that I did try it…for a few seconds… It HURT LIKE HELL! I was bruised and sore down there for days. So reading this post made me squirm.

      8. Thanks for confirming that. Becuz I do own a vacuum now, and the missus won’t be home for an hour or so. But….no.

  10. Sue Jones says:

    Um… as the mom of a boy who… does what little boys approaching or in adolescence do with their little johnsons, I tell him that masturbating is something to do in private. If I caught him using the vacuum cleaner (even though he was doing it privately) I would warn him that he could hurt himself, as well as ruining our relatively new high suction vacuum cleaner. I would probably get my husband to do the dirty work with the discussion, but since she is a single mom, she may as well say something herself if the dad is not good at that sort of thing.

  11. i dunno, this letter and all the replies and comments makes me sad. no wonder we all have fucked up thoughts about sex.

    what is so wrong (and hard for the parent) to be like, “hey, im sorry about that. it was awkward, huh? i promise i wont bust into your room again- ill knock. but i gotta say, a vacuum is dangerous. ill get you something else- no worries. dont be ashamed. masterbating is not a shameful activity, its only a private activity. you know im always here to talk, but if you want to know specifics, your dad is a great resource- you know he has a penis too, right? haha”

    sure, its uncomfortable. whatever, get it over it. your a parent! the needs of you kid come first- thats what every parent says. why do their sexual needs get to be passed off for someone else to take care of? why are their sexual needs too “awkward” to deal with? its sad and disappointing that these answers are acceptable. seriously- in what other situation is it OK to just pass off an uncomfortable situation your children are in onto someone else? i dont think its EVER appropriate to do that. if you care about your kids development and health and life, take the initiative YOURSELF and do what needs to be done! isnt that what being a parent is about? sacrificing for the betterment of your child? this is a prime, classic time to do that. whether your kid has a penis or a vagina, they should at least get the common decency of an apology for an awkward situation, and some guidance if they are about to suck their private parts off!!

    btw- im not the only who thinks so. read this.

    1. also, just as a general rule, isn’t “sweep it under a rug and never speak of it again” a bad way of going about life- specifically for awkward situations with people you see everyday and presumably care about?

    2. I completely agree, Katie. I was going to say something earlier but wasn’t sure if I had energy for a debate, haha.

      WHY should she pass it off to the dad? I understand that she was in shock initially, but she should have said something sooner. If SHE acts ashamed/embarrassed, then HE is going to feel shame too.

      And if one parent walked in on me and then went and told the other parent (or someone else), who then brought it up with me later, I’d be like “JEEZ mom, did you have to tell everyone?!” I think your hypothetical response is perfect, Katie.

      1. i agree about telling the other parent- “tattling” about it combined with never speaking about it = something that is shameful and should never be spoken of AND something that will “get him in trouble” with the other parent for doing. that is the perfect way to set your kid up for a lifetime of sexual confusion. not ok.

      2. AND he’ll never be comfortable coming to her in the future.

    3. I completely agree with you, Katie! I loved your fake conversation! Is it that hard to talk to your kids? If it’s anyone responsibility to ensure your children has a healthy outlook on every aspect of their life (that includes sex), it’s a parents. I don’t think you need to have an in-depth discussion about it, but a quick safety lesson and a hey it’s perfectly normal, but maybe lock your door next time? kind of conversation.

      My parents were open without being creepy about sex, and I am so thankful to them for the healthy outlook I have on my sex life. We had a many awkward conversations, but at least I got accurate information about it and I never felt it was something to be ashamed of.

      I used to baby-sit for a pretty conservative family and they had a 5 year old son, who started to get a little too up close and personal with himself once he really discovered it. They had a talk with him that it was normal and healthy for him to do whatever he needed to do *in private* in his room. And that was that. They had no problem sharing the details of that conversation with me and letting me know about it, in case the issue came up when I was there, and I thought it was awesome they were so involved and proactive with what could be an awkward topic.

    4. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      I think it would be more comfortable for the son to hear it from his father. I would be way more comfortable hearing about sex from my mother than I would be from my father and I think that is a pretty natural reaction. One of the benefits of having both parents to parent the child is that you get to play on each other’s strengths- in this case it would be easier and less embarrassing to the son to have his father let him know the dangers of what he is doing. That is not “passing off” your child’s problem- that is working as a team to find the best possible solution. It’s good co-parenting.

      It is wonderful that some parent-child relationships are comfortable being really open about sex and some children are willing and able to be frank about it with their parents. I believe that all parents need to teach their kids about the birds & bees, safe sex and pregnancy. But I don’t think that a parent should force their kid to talk more about a subject that would make the kid uncomfortable and the majority of kids are going to be uncomfortable.

      1. I don’t think the gender really matters. Both my parents were open with us but my mom was way more awkward with it. i actually had a more frank discussion with my dad about my period, because my mom couldn’t stop referring to it as “my special time”. There’s truly nothing special about it lol

        A lot of subjects are uncomfortable: divorce, teen pregnancy, bullying, death, religion, etc. but as parent you need to have them. As Katie said above, I’d be mortified if I realized my parents were discussing something of this nature about me and had a pow-wow about how to deal with it. A simple acknowledgement of his privacy like locking the door next time and maybe staying away from household appliances would be a pretty basic thing for a parent of either gender to handle.

      2. ive said this once on here, but if a child is uncomfortable talking about something with a parent (either parent) that is the fault of the parent in not creating a loving open atmosphere in which to be able to speak to one another. it is up to the parents, as the childrens caregivers, to create the correct type of atmosphere for every. single. different. difficult. subject. if you create and open atmostphere where nothing is off the table, that is the atmosphere you both get to live in.

        what are single moms with sons supposed to do? just because this child happens to have a penis does not mean she isnt the correct parent to address this- especially because it happened in her own house, under her own roof. like i said above, she would be “tattling” to dad, and the kid would then “get in trouble” by getting a talking to by dad, and then the mom never addressing it tells the kid “this is a bad and shameful and embarrassing act. i caught you doing something icky that i never want to acknowledge happens”. that is NOT GOOD. kids pick up on your thoughts about things. trust, if you sweep things under the rug, the kids will pick up on that, no matter if they have a penis or a vagina. the penis/vagina part in this senario doesnt matter in the least. what matters is that she walked into a potentially embarrassing AND dangerous situation, and as a parent, has a resposibility to set the record straight with her son about the big elephant in the room. doing that has nothing to do with co-parenting, and it has nothing about either parents “strengths” (also- since when did the ownership of a penis or a vagina make you automatically qualified to give good sex advice to a kid?), it is simply about the responsibility every parent has to their child.

      3. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I don’t think that just because the dad “has a penis” he is the correct parent to deal with this. It’s because the mother isn’t the more comfortable parent in THIS situation. If in another parent-child relationship the opposite sexed parent is more comfortable then that is the correct parent to deal with it. I think it is a noble idea to want to be open and comfortable with all conversations with your kids, but I also think that it is unrealistic to expect that of parents. Parents are only human and are entitled to have the natural reaction of being uncomfortable with certain conversations. That doesn’t mean that the conversations don’t get to happen but it is okay to pick and choose which parent is better able to handle the conversation. A kid is going to pick up on his mom being really awkward during that “hey, don’t stick your dick in my vacuum, you’ll hurt yourself” convo and the kid will pick up on that as well.

        Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. It is a natural feeling and it helps us learn what things are private, not necessarily are shameful and the father should mention that in his convo with the son. I want my kids comfortable enough to masturbate yet not so comfortable that they do it out in public.

      4. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Perfectly said. Round of applause for you!

      5. well, i completely disagree with you. she IS teaching him it is shameful. her terrible (completely understandable, but terrible) reaction when she first caught him is going to forever imprint in him shame about the act. i hope that you read up on it- its a real issue.

        and im sorry, but parents dont *get* to be uncomfortable. if you are uncomfortable about anything related to raising a kid, including the fact that your kid will masterbate, you shouldnt have kids. thats just a cop out, and its furthering the awkward shameful views our society has about sex. it gets passed on exactly like this- a perhaps seemingly innocent thing where the parent selfishly chooses their own comfort over their child’s well being, and the cycle continues. i only hope that someday people will stop the cycle and we can stop shaming each other about sex, drugs, molestation, alcohol use, rape, ect- all the issues that come up where the parent “just didnt feel comfortable” talking about it.

      6. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Katie, I really hope you don’t truly believe that if a person can’t be a perfect parent that they shouldn’t be a parent at all. Every parent is going to have some issue that doesn’t play into an ideal lovey-dovey society. People shouldn’t shame their children about sex, no, but you can’t expect parents to be perfect. And not to bring up other stuff here, but I remember you talking once a month or two ago about how important you think adoption is. I would certainly much rather parent-less children go to loving adults that are uncomfortable talking about vacuum-cleaner masturbation than to sit in a group home until they age out at 18.

      7. i just think that if you are a parent, you need to be 100% of a parent. you cant just be there for the good times, for the graduations and the birthday parties and the cute facebook pictures- you have to be there for the hard shit too. and if a conversation about a penis is too hard for you, you probably are not ready, im sorry. as a parent your not expected to be perfect, but you are certainly expected to show up for everything.

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        But you are saying a parent IS expected to be perfect.
        I think you are making parenting out to be only acceptable in your perfect, imagined scenario. I can guarantee you many (wish I could say all) parents try 100% of the time to be 100% of a parent. Key word: try. In my opinion, trying is the most important. No person is perfect and therefore no parent will be the perfect parent. They should try their hardest, certainly. But be realistic about it. Just because someone may have been raised in a culture that they are uncomfortable talking to their son about jerking off does not mean they shouldn’t be a parent.

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        And just to add a trendy term to this, you are doing a hell of a job furthering the mommy wars. Just because you define one way of perfect parenting, does not mean everyone will define it that way. I hope when you become a parent (and I think you’ll be a great one), you give yourself a little slack for not being perfect.

      10. it has nothing to do with being perfect- it has everything to do with what you said- you gotta try. you cant bury your head in the sand when something potentially embarrassing happens. you gotta try. she needs to show up to her duties as a parent and try to rectify this situation- even if it just an apology for catching him at a private moment.

        i seriously cant believe that this kid isn’t even worth giving a simple apology. his emotional well being isnt even important enough to warrant a simple apology, just because his mom is scared of his penis. i feel sorry for him.

        it is so sad and so obvious why so many grow up with such fucked up ideals.

      11. lets_be_honest says:

        I don’t really get the whole ‘she must apologize to him.’ For what? Walking into a room she pays for? Assuming he was vacuuming? Seeing him masturbating? Why should she say sorry I saw you jerking off? Wouldn’t her saying sorry make it seem like something to be ashamed of, more than just ignoring it bc its normal? I don’t know that its something she must discuss or she’s a bad parent. Saying oops and walking out of the room is plenty in my opinion.

      12. Well I don’t know how you normally interact with people, but if I accidentally walked into an embarrassing situation -no matter who it was, kid, friend, ect- I would apologize. I assumed that was a common cursory polite society uses.

        If you open the door on a co-worker in the bathroom, you’d apologize. If you walked in on your boyfriend masterbating, you’d apologize (but only if he owns the house, I guess, because ownership gives you free reign of all rooms all the time…?)

        I just don’t understand why regular decency ends if it concerns your kid and sex. Also, I don’t understand why parenting duties end when it concerns your kid and sex.

        Bottom line- you have no idea what the kid is thinking or feeling, especially after an embarrassing situation like that. A good parent sets the record straight, and doesn’t parent along the “sweep it under a rug and never speak of it again policy”

      13. lets_be_honest says:

        No one, certainly not me, has said parenting duties end when it comes to sex. Let’s get that clear.

        I’m also not saying kids don’t deserve common decency. I’m trying to just share my opinion on this specific thing. I do wish you would stop proclaiming what a good parent does and what a bad parent is.

        Anyway, I commented more a few down…

      14. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        Parents don’t get to have natural reactions and emotions? WTF? They are HUMAN. There would be no human race if everyone who had emotions stopped procreating. Finding a more qualified person to talk to your child about their situation isn’t copping out. I won’t pull my child’s tooth out for him- that doesn’t equal shaming. Being uncomfortable doesn’t equal shaming. Walking out of a room while your son is masturbating isn’t shaming. If I walk in on someone pooping, I walk away. I’m not shaming them, I’m giving them privacy for a private moment. That’s courtesy, not selfishness. Frankly, there is a line between what is a normal, healthy, sex positive parent-child relationship and what can become child abuse. How comfortable you are is a good indicator that you shouldn’t go too much farther.

      15. you dont understand- the fact that she walked in on him, freaked out, and left, doesnt necessarily shame the act. that is a normal reaction, i agree. but, now, its the fact that she wants to, and everyone else freaking told her, to just let it be and never talk about it again. never address that it happened. never even apologize to her own son for walking in on him! how is that ok?? by not ironing out this situation, she is showing her own feelings of shame towards the act- she is waving them loud and clear. if she wasnt so uncomfortable and ashamed about it, she wouldnt have any problem going to her son, apologizing for walking in on him, asking him to be safe, reassuring him that what he is doing is completely natural, and telling them that she is always there for him. THATS what a good parent does. a good parent doesnt just sweep serious issues like sexuality, rape, incest, ect under the rug to be forever silenced. its a bad, bad standard to set. its literally dangerous to the child. like Cats said, if she never addresses this directly with him, the son will be very likely to never come to her with questions and issues relating to sex- she got all awkward and ran away from the issue, remember? she just tattled to daddy because she didnt want to address it, remember? the kid remembers that shit! i promise you, they remember it.

        and yes, im sorry, but as a parent, you put your kid first. and if that means you have to get through an awkward conversation with your son about his scary penis, you do it. people say they would lay down their lives for their kids. a conversation about a penis is too far?

      16. lets_be_honest says:

        Maybe by not addressing it, she is giving him privacy and therefore teaching him its a private thing. You are choosing to see shaming in that, but not everyone does, and he very well may not either and just realize its a private thing. I’m all for opening lines of communication, and I was in agreement with you for a lot of your points, really. But people see things different ways. Thats ok. That doesnt make her a bad mother.
        In any event, her going back to talk about it while she clearly is uncomfortable is going to make him even more “shamed.”

      17. but as a parent, shouldnt you actively teach your children the correct way to look at things, rather then just *hoping* they get it by your actions?

        sure, maybe by her silence he will understand that its a private dad and son thing… but he also might never forget her horrified look at she walked into his bedroom and will forever shame himself after he masterbates because he *knows* its gross because mom thought it was gross.

        seriously, what is the better choice there? leave it up to chance, or lay it out, concrete for him to hear from his actual mothers lips?

        parents who are sex positive and open with their kids about hard subjects NEVER regret taking that path… other parents who leave things up to chance, just hoping that kids will “get” it/will learn the lesson somewhere else probably never even get to know if their kids have fucked up relationships towards sex or not, because its off the table to discuss, period.

        see the difference?

      18. lets_be_honest says:

        Not commenting on your kid jerking off doesn’t make you sex negative. Again, just because you have decided its wrong not to discuss does not mean you are right.
        We’re obviously not going to agree on whether there is an absolute duty to discuss it further. I agree that parents should let their kids know they can come to them with anything, and even prompt conversations teaching about sex. I totally agree. We just disagree on this one small detail.
        Even if mom were totally sex positive, not embarrassed at all and happy to know he’s doing it, I still don’t see the need to bring it up.
        If you overheard your, lets say, 17 y/o having sex, a 17 y/o you already gave condoms to, etc., would you insist that you tell her you heard it and give her a high five? if your concern was safety due the vacuum, then yes, I would agree you should say something.

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        Also, You are determining that son thinks mom thinks it gross. Just bc she walked out does not in any way make him think its gross. To me, it shows him she’s giving him privacy for a private thing. Had she screamed at him, or said what the hell are you doing, then yes, she needs to go back and apologize.

      20. But you don’t have any idea what he thinks- your just hoping and assuming he is going to have a good outlook on this. Why oh why is it a bad decision to take the guesswork out and just have the conversation?

        You know, when kids grow to be teens ad 20 something’s and talk about how they learned about sex, the opinion of “I’m so happy my parents left me in the dark and never talked about things. I figured it out all on my own” doesn’t ever happen. The prevailing opinion is “I am so happy my parents were open with me about sex. It might have been awkward, but atleast I always knew they were on my side and available to talk”. Seriously, think about that.

      21. lets_be_honest says:

        But no where in the letter does mom say she hasn’t talked to her son about sex. How do you know she hasn’t just because she doesn’t want to further embarrass him? You are bundling the issues here.

        Also, not that I practice parenting the way mine did, but almost everyone I know in my age group figured out sex on their own without their parents input. Not saying its a great idea by any means, but I can assure you the majority of people out there did not have their parents teach them about sex and yet they all figured out how to do it.

      22. I think this is a good point. In my case, my mom never talking about it at all was, in my opinion, a perfect solution. I was 14. I’d had things figured out for years already. I had read real books with helpful information, I had talked to older bothers of my friends, and also seen girlie mags (no internet in those days). I was not confused about sex or masturbation. I did not need to be validated in any way. The activity was an inevitable reality for a 14 year old boy. It was about my privacy, which henceforward was willingly respected. My mom was not a bad parent, and both my folks have always been there when I needed something.

        When actual live girls became a factor, THEN i needed some advice, and I asked for it and got it. Pulling on myself i HAD figured out, thanks.

        No offense, Katie, but while parents need to be there for when they are needed by their kids, I think you are overstating your case. Just an opinion.

      23. Also, if you walked in on your kid popping, what would you really do? Back away, yes. Give them a minute of privacy, yes. Then, wouldn’t you apologize for going into the bathroom without knocking? Wouldn’t you mention that everyone poops, don’t be embarrassed, but just keep the door closed. I’ll make you a deal- you keep the door closed when you need to do private stuff in the bathroom, and I will always knock if I see a closed door.

        I would certainly do all those things. Apologize, ask the other person not to be embarrassed, figure out how to keep it from happening again. Actually, this is what I’d do no matter if it was a kid or my mom or my best friend!

        Why does this situation change when pooping is replaced with masterbating? They are, after all, both normal things people do in private.

      24. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        You know what- if I walked in on my kid pooping I would not go back and apologize and have a drawn-out convo about it. I’d probably say “whoops, sorry” as I closed the door on my way out. But to go back and explain every detail of what went wrong in the dynamic of me walking in/them pooping is overkill. I think each person will be more careful.

      25. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I completely agree with you, lemongrass. I’ve already been in an enormous fight about this on here before, so I’m just going to leave it with saying that I 100% agree with you.

        Also, are you real life (ie: facebook) friends with DW people? Because I want to be your frienddd!

      26. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I’m not! I’m pretty terrified of my RL friends finding out all the stuff I post on here but I’ll add you 🙂

      27. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yayyy!!! Don’t worry, I won’t post what your DW name is on your wall more than ten or twelve times. Just kidding!

        If you want to send me an email to about how to find you then we can be friends!

      28. If she wants to get dad involved, that’s fine, but that shouldn’t keep her from also at least acknowledging it. She needs to let him know that he has nothing to be ashamed of and she’s comfortable enough discussing sex-related issues with him that he can come to her if he has any questions or problems.

  12. bittergaymark says:

    Um, I can see how that might happen, actually.

    Good advice by Prudie — for the most part. (More on that in a minute.) Look, things could go HORRIBLY wrong and she had best talk about this with her son. Truthfully, I think she should just man up and do it herself. Involving the father seems like needlessly further embarrassing her son in my opinion.

  13. fast eddie says:

    I used a vacuum a few times at that age and neither the appliance nor I suffered any ill effects. It’s a matter of size and it became scary as I grew larger. Hopefully the dad will have had the forethought to be prepared to talk to the kid about it. There are lots of male masturbation devices available on-line which are safe and easy to use. For starters a bottle of lube is cheap and can be selected at the grocery store.

    The issue of boundaries is important one for any mom and her son to discuss aside from sexual activity. It would be great if they could resolve the episode enough to leave him unashamed for doing what comes naturally. Giving him a bottle of personal lubricant would communicate that without an awkward explanation.

  14. Wendy (not Wendy) says:

    Just an aside–that video is from a series on teaching developmentally disabled teens about sexuality. They’re all in really simple, creepy-seeming language/style because they wanted to be clear about what is a very difficult situation for most parents. Put in that context, I think it’s actually kind of sweet.

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