Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Did your parents have weird ideas about sex (and has it affected you?)?(44 Posts)
Have NCed for embarrassing question!
My mother thought that sex was an unpleasant, dirty kind of act which women had to perform frequently (to the desired standard) if they wanted to keep their man. She thought men were slightly stupid, easily fooled and only interested in one thing.
I was quite proud of myself for not having inherited this line of thought, but as I grow older I keep discovering ways that her warped views have, in fact, affected me. I was wondering if anyone else feels like me - that your parents' odd hang ups have come back to bite you on the bum? And has anyone managed to overcome them?
Well the good news is that it can be different because I really enjoy sex now in a way I never did when it was about power, mystery etc. It's a weird thing.
You'd probably have to start from scratch with your partner, though. Would you/he consider couples' therapy or sex therapy maybe?
Very interesting isn't it, that sex equals bad and yet there is so much sexual a use that goes on.
I wonder if contraception will eventually equal responsibility about how many children we have because life expectancy has largely improved....
Plus I wonder whether the increasing openness around sex is a good thing, yet it has led so far to the sexualisation of women and now also children hearing and seeing sexualised images a lot...little girls in bras etc....and now we are beginning see women grouping together to say we are not sex toys, we are not owned by men, when they force us to have sex we won't keep quiet any longer....and top shelf magazines and porn as all now under fire and may hopefully begin to disappear......
For myself, my mum was a girl to a mother and no father, who went on to marry. Mashed had an older brother and the parents had a new little girl, so my mum became surplus to requirements.
She then had two girls, me the second, and a son, and she always said she hadn't wanted girls...and I think that is because she wasn't wanted herself.....for being a girl...
She went on to be physically and sexually abusive to me and my girl ness......she also used to give my sister lectures about sex....but I couldn't stand being near her so didnt have to suff the lectures...
Even tho she hated me for being born a girl and would say that sex was a messy business.....I have not internalised this. I find being a woman wonderful and I embrace it. I don't have problem periods and I don't take the pill and enjoy being fertile and ovulating....I remember the peak of my fertile years, around 30, where I feel very sexual indeed when fertile.....
Sexually I did not internalise what she said at all. I hope people can get past what they were taught. To me sex is as natural as the need for food or sleep. It is a physical desire. I would be happy for our generation to turn this around for our children, and to stop seeing pictures of naked women advertising products and to stop rapes and the idea that women have to satisfy men, or that women who like sex are somehow of less worth. I think this idea that sex is wrong had more to do with how to pay to raise children in the past....and it is not relevant anymore.... So hopefully we can ,I've on to take responsibility of enjoying safe sex and not think anything is wrong with doing so and openly accepting it as pa of life. How people who have taken a vow of chastity thinking god wants them to...survive, I don't know! If life hasn't wanted us to have sex, life would not have made it!
Sex was never discussed in our home and my parents never showed any outward displays of affection towards each other. I often wondered how they managed to stay together so long but i guess they've just stuck it out through the tough times (financial hardship, loss of a child & long term seperation through work).
So my sex education lessons came from school and i learnt about periods from my big sister (who learnt it at school). I never took boyfriends home, nor were they aware of who i went out with.
I waited until my parents were abroad for a few years before moving in with my then DP. It was easier than a face to face confrontation. It took me a few years to be happy with my sexuality but i'm relaxed and adventerous now (20+ years married).
Interestingly my mum commented to me recently that she read so many romance books because she 'doesn't get any at home'. So maybe she's frustrated?
I don't think their attitude towards sex affected me too much (though they never were affectionate toward one another-still aren't-ans drom conversations later in life I've learned thaty dad saw/sees sex in a completely selfish light-nor surprising considering he's selfish in all other aspects of life).
I think what has affected me more than anything were the self esteem issues I had as a teen and my parents not addressing it at all (they're bury heads in the sand types). As a result of low self esteem I felt like I couldn't say no to what boys wanted- as long as they were giving me attention
But there were only a couple of instances like that and me and dp have a good, healthy sex life
elinor, your parents sound great!
Really interesting replies! So many people seem to have had very straightlaced parents who thought sex was wrong. My mother was never like that. She just thought it was GRIM! And that you would only do it to exercise your power over a man. I was certainly never given the impression you should only do it in marriage - although confusingly she did call me a slut and a whore when I started seeing my first boyfriend, aged 16.
YoniBottsBumgina, yes! You have said it exactly right:
"I sort of enjoyed it for the attention, for the effect it had on men and the sense of power I got from it. Then once I was in a long term relationship it became boring very quickly"
This is exactly how I feel. It was all about my own sense of power and feeling sexy, which has disappeared completely now (fat and post-DC). My DH is not selfish in bed though, just very clumsy and fumbling. And he doesn't learn quickly and tends to resent any sign of "bossiness" so teaching him is hard. Sex feels like a chore, something i should do to please him, and then I rebel against that. I realise how much I have turned into my mother and feel very depressed.
Chip a lot of what you are saying sounds familiar, although it didn't come from my own parents as much as the wider family.
My grandmother had a weird (perhaps typical for her generation and class) attitude to sex that it was something horrible to be endured, that men had these dark 'urges' that they couldn't control and you just had to suffer it if you were married. I understand she dreaded getting pregnant again and only equated sex with conception. She gave me a strong message from childhood that only sluttish girls had boyfriends (or even spoke to boys!) and made it clear that I wasn't allowed to. Any burgeoning friendship with a boy she made sure to sabotage. The idea of sex outside marriage was absolutely anathema.
My aunt spouted similar views and we had to sit through stalks about the evil urges of men and the 'service' they expected. She was quite a femme fatale from what I now know, so whether she actually felt like that or was just repeating lessons from her mum I don't know.
My parents certainly never discussed sex with me, but I do think my mum tried to be open and balanced on the topic - she used to make it clear I could ask or tell her anything (even though it embarrassed the hell out of me if she'd even try to start a conversation about bodily functions like periods...). When I was an older teenager she told me I should have a lot of boyfriends before settling down, as I needed to understand what different men were like and work out who would suit me. I think this was partly in reflection of the fact that she was a virgin bride and (although married for decades until he died) had a difficult relationship with my dad. In hindsight this advice is interesting, as she was basically telling me to have pre-marital sex, in direct contrast to her own upbringing. Needless to say I did take that particular piece of advice
I think because of my mum's approach the other stuff didn't really have an effect. I do wonder how I'll feel when DD starts having little innocent 'boyfriends' at primary school though. It was so ingrained in me that this was completely unacceptable (even the cutesy handholding type thing that lasts days usually) that I wonder if I'll find myself saying 'nice girls don't have boyfriends'. I hope not
My dad bought me condoms! Just in case, and left them on my bed. Never told him that I had no use for them whatsoever and they went to my more ahem, active friends.
My parents were/are happily married, no adultery and had a good sex life as far as I know, they both let it be known that there was nothing wrong with enjoying it and having casual relationships, but that it was better with someone you cared about and that it got better the longer you were together.
Since meeting DP, that has been my experience too!
My parents thought that making me sit out of sex ed classes would ensure I stayed a virgin (my parents are atheists so I've no idea why they're so obsessed with having a virgin daughter) and avoid boys. I fell pregnant at 17 and gave birth on my 18th birthday. I didn't have a clue how to use a condom (neither did my DH) so it ripped and DD was conceived. My DD (11) already knows about sex (biological aspects- not positions etc) and that there are ways to avoid getting pregnant. I will definitely allow her to go on the pill when she feels ready, I may even be the embarrassing mother who shows her how to put a condom on a cucumber . DH sees many pregnant teenagers in his job and apparently many of them admit to having religious/strict parents.
Oh yes. I had a lecture on how my virginity was a "beautiful jewel" and I should "give" it to someone I really loved <<rolls eyes>>.
When they found out I had had sex for the first time (by reading my diary no less) neither of my parents spoke to me for about three months. They both called me some awful names that I have never really forgiven them for.
I am not sure if it affected me, I have always had "one night stand" guilt and tend to develop strong feelings for anyone I have sexual contact with. Wish I could be more casual about it. I've turned down some utter stunners that I look back and could kick myself that I didn't just go for it.
My parents (well my mum, I think my dad would have rather set his scrotum on fire than talk to me about sex) were pretty open about sex. I was given the fact-based talk about penis, vagina, egg and sperm etc at quite a young age, which is something I have repeated with my own DC.
Talks about the emotional side came later. My parents were liberal in some ways and so didn't try to tell me that sex should only come after marriage, but did urge me to at least be in a committed relationship when I lost my virginity because it would be awkward, embarrassing and probably painful and I would find it a lot easier to get past that if I liked and felt safe with the person I did it with. They also told me that anyone who cared about me would not try to coerce me into sex before I was ready and made sure I knew about safe sex.
All sounds great doesn't it. And it was in the main. There were a couple of weird things there though. My mother put the fear of god into me about an unwanted pregnancy, so much so that I spent most of my marriage using condoms, spermicide and the pill (poor DH, though he turned out to be a bit of prat in the end and I divorced him anyway). And she also told me that in her opinion oral sex was disgusting and unhygienic. I was very surprised the first time I experienced cunnilingus, I can tell you!
I was brought up in the 50s and 60s to think, by my Father, that "nice girls don't have sex" (this was obviously designed to keep me on the straight and narrow until I got married when, of course, it would be ok. It was instilled so much that now, in my dotage, I realise that it has affected me my whole life. I haven't had sex for 20 years, never really enjoyed it when I did, and I got divorced because of it.
my mum was ok - bought me a book - which was good as I was a shy bookish kid! when I got to older going out age, she would say 'be good, and if you can't be good be careful' in a jokey way - but she knew I was always boringly sensible about everything.
I was never 'allowed' to stop at my boyfriends even when I was 18, despite him stopping over at my place at uni! it wasn't the 'done' thing apparently. saying that, I am confident sexually with my partner, and wouldn't be shy discussing with friends but I wouldn't share any info with my mum. I feel it 'isn't the done thing!'
A close friend's mum was the opposite of closed about sex...she was competitive and challengingly open about having sex in the house.
The mum was an attractive, tall well -built woman, the dad quite a small guy, and they had a downstairs bedroom. They were open and "permissive" ( this was mid 1970's) and allowed my friend and her sister to have boyfriends to stay. I used to feel uncomfortable staying as the loo and bathroom did not have locks on them..too weird for me back then.
The girls were quite shy, did have boyfriends over, but recounted the behaviour their mother got up to if they did. There was quite a lot of suggestive talk, and then once everyone had gone to bed, mum would engage in very loud sex with dad.This was very loud ( I heard her once, it was a performance), and basically had the effect of putting everyone else off their ..er..stroke.
Both the girls, now in their forties and fifties, have had problems relaxing about sex and enjoying it, and put some blame at least on their mum's behaviour..basically she embarrassed them so much they felt slightly revolted by it all.
things that have already been mentioned
marriage no dirty stuff not talking about it
but also the old testament (they were christians) idea of 'unclean menstruation' ...I don't follow their religion anymore and have no particular wish to
have sex at that time of the month but the thought that its hard to tell (with me at least) when a period truly ends always niggles at me and i wonder what they thought was going to happen if you did have sex then.....
Yes and yes, both parents between them have succeeded in completely messing me up in that department and will both be completely oblivious to it. A combination of being exposed to a significant amount of pornographic material as a child and being made to feel completely ashamed and dirty when I started sleeping with my boyfriend amongst other things. I've considered counselling to try and fix some of the damage but I've never had the guts to do anything about it. I should say none of the damage was done consciously or maliciously it was just a complete lack of consideration.
sex was not allowed under any circumstances before marriage according to my mother and yes like the other poster I was told you cant use tampons before you are married. it was made very clear to me that if I had sex which led to becoming an unmarried mother I would be kicked out and theywould never speak to me again for the rest of their lives. She also sighed when I said we had had the talk at school and said, yes thats how it works but women hate it. Feel sorry for my dad!
Hope I didnt put the fear of God into my own children when they were of an age to start having a sex life.
My Mum wasn't great at talking about stuff like that. I thinl she vaguely told me about periods but never talked about sex. Bless her I think she thought she hsd done an alright job as my Gran never talked to my Mum about anything at all.
When I think back to my childhood there were many things my Mum dealt with badly, I think due to her upbringing. I vow to he much more open with my DC.
I put tampons in the trolley years ago. I was about 14 and I remember slipping them in hoping my mum wouldn't judge or comment. But no, she held them up and said "these are for married women". I just wanted to be able to go swimming at school without it being a big production.
I can imagine you at the front door still half blushing venus, even after all these years!
Like several others, I was given a very strong message that sex was only for within a married relationship. I remember getting a very stern lecture when I questioned my parents about a holiday they had taken (with friends) before they had married and they made it clear that they were hurt and shocked that I had even considered that they might have had sex before they were married.
I managed to put my own values above theirs though, and I have had very happy sex before marriage, and after marriage.
The longest lasting effect is that I was always told "no boys allowed upstairs" In my Mum's mind: upstairs = bedroom = sex The problem is that I now live in an upside-down house with the bedrooms on the ground floor, and every time I invite a guest to 'come upstairs' I blush as though I'd given them an open invitation to have sex with me
Same as you Jan45, sex and anything at all to do with it was NEVER mentioned at all when I was growing up. I didn't even tell my mum when my periods started as I found it excruciatingly embarassing! (Think she twigged eventually when half of her tampax was disappearing every month, although even then she didn't mention it and never has to this day.)
That experience growing up has made me very open with our dc and I am happy to answer any questions at all, she is not afraid to ask and I am very glad we have a much more open and close relationship where anything can be discussed.
It's weird that from time long ago men were to have their needs met and women were to provide the pleasure - thank god we've now realised that sex is enjoyable for us too, why else do we have a bloody clitoris?
Ah I see - yes I have had that too. I sort of enjoyed it for the attention, for the effect it had on men and the sense of power I got from it. Then once I was in a long term relationship it became boring very quickly - not helped by the fact my ex was selfish in bed and interested in his own orgasm (and mine only if it was flashy/made him feel good somehow). His sex drive far outswamped mine and he started expecting "maintenance" shags/favours/whatever in between. It did become a chore and the little interest and enjoyment I had had in it died.
I can't explain why it is different with DP, it just is. It's never felt like a chore, and the enjoyment of it is different even. More of a connection rather than a power play sort of thing.
My mum was very victorian and sex was a dirty word in our house - I couldn't ask her anything, when I started my period you would think I had committed a crime, her reaction was weird, almost like oh my god, now you can actually get pregnant. Nothing changed, I learnt the hard way. I worry about my friend who is middle aged and sleeps with every man she meets on the first night, she tells me she's horny and is having a great time, but I think she feels lonely and is looking for love so even a shag is giving her some intimacy, I was shocked at the wknd when she said she had a sore bottom, I was like, why? and she said, well I brought this guy back and....I had to put my hand up and say TMI lol!
I have myself no hang ups whatsoever with regards to sex and have always and still do enjoy it.
That doesn't sound good How come you feel like sex is a chore now, do you think? Is it because your husband treats it as something which is expected or your responsibility?
I know how it can take the shine and enjoyment right off to see it as a chore. It got that way with my ex, but it isn't that way with my DP at all.
Join the discussion
Please login first.