How should I handle this?
Given that previous discussion here seems to indicate the majority of us agree that masturbation in teens is not sinful, is normal, is healthy, and is even beneficial to later sexual health and enjoyment in marriage, I have not panicked at the suspicion that she has discovered it (in spite of my own deeply ingrained angst about it) and even went as far as to–only somewhat awkwardly–indicate to her that I assumed she would and it was no big deal and that the main thing is cleanliness. I encouraged her to come to me with any questions she might have. Her silence on that occasion was flavored with admission.
This morning DH found one of my vibrators in the bathroom, Aside from the ick factor of sharing, the difficulty of true cleanliness (especially if I am just too satiated to wash up after use and then forget until I go to use it again), and the underlying no-no of borrowing without asking, she happened to pick the one I reserve for AS.
The question is (and I’m going to pray about it and then come back to see if answers confirm what I think I’m hearing): should I just go ahead and get her her own? Is M okay but only by her own hand? In my own curiosity I found all sorts of things to insert, some of which were not really a good idea. Does the benefit of cleanliness and protection from dangerous experimentation outweigh what feels like stimulating the sexual hunger of my young teenage daughter? Or is this a case of it’s already stimulated so it’s best to guide it well?
Sincere thanks for your prayerful consideration!
[Please feel free to correct my topic labels whenever they need to be. I have so much trouble! This doesn’t seem like a “children” issue, because it is not “non-sexual”; it doesn’t seem like a “M-is it okay?” issue, because I don’t question the M itself; it’s not “M-married…” because it’s not about our M”. I find myself flummoxed more often than not.]
This is indeed an awkward situation, and, as you can see, you’re going to get widely varying opinions as to what to do and say.
As a seasoned youth pastor and pastor who has dealt with this subject with a wide variety of teens from all different family structures over the years, let me try to bring a sense of balance and encouragement for you:
a. Teens (both boys and girls) are at some point going to discover masturbation in some way. How much or how long they do it is going to vary quite a bit. Much depends on their upbringing, the openness (or lack thereof) towards sexual issues in the home, their faith background as well as their present walk with God, if they have exposure to porn and how much, and many other factors. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
b. Masturbation for singles (including teens) is nowhere addressed in Scripture. While that does not present a blanket endorsement, it also does not mean we can condemn the practice via Biblical silence either. Well-meaning and Godly Christians have come down on many different sides of this issue over the years.
c. Holy Spirit conviction is always good and leads any believer (teenager or not) towards righteousness. Conversely, false guilt and false shame is always bad and leads to a very skewed perspective on the holiness and mercy of God. Also, “that which is not from faith is sin.” If a teen is masturbating and is feeling tremendous guilt by doing so but at the same time is not able to stop, there needs to be some type of good solid Godly instruction and help given to them. This is where parents can especially be vital in keeping lines of communication open and talking frankly and honestly with their kids. Granted, it’s tough, but parenthood was never designed to be a walk in the park!
d. In this case, there is an issue of boundaries that have been crossed. Your daughter seemingly used your vibrator. That’s a violation of personal space that needs to be addressed sensitively. As someone else has said, you wouldn’t want her using your toothbrush. I would think the conversation around this point needs to be handled in the same type of manner. This was a personal item and that boundary should not have been crossed.
e. In terms of actually using a vibrator for masturbation, the benefit/harm ratio is debatable. There is evidence to support that a girl who masturbates is more in touch with her body and better able to have a satisfactory sex life in marriage. However, each girl is going to be different. You know your daughter the best. If she has a propensity to “take things and run with them,” then a vibrator could lead to an unhealthy dependence on something battery-powered. But, if she is a level-headed young woman and continues to be so, there may be no harm at all in this type of experimentation.
f. On the question of buying her own vibrator, I would think this again would need to be a conversation between mom and daughter. Why did she want to use the one she found in the first place? How did she feel after using it (guilty for doing so or not at all)? Does she feel like it was something she wants to repeat more and more, or was it just a form of curiosity that seems to have been satiated? Getting answers to questions like that are going to be very helpful in determining your next course of action.
Finally, I would say rejoice that God has given you this opportunity to have such open dialogues with your daughter! They are going to be awkward conversations between the two of you, for sure. But, as a good friend of mine who works with teens likes to say, “Awkward is awesome!” This could be such a breakthrough in your relationship with your daughter that years from now you will look back and be very grateful for the way God led you to this and through this!
Going to preface this with three disclaimers: (1) I am a man, (2) we have four kids but the oldest is significantly younger than your DD so we’ve only had one “talk” so far, and (3) our (DW Zelda and I) stance on solo masturbation is more conservative than the average here at TMB–I would in fact say that for me it is definitely a sin because I do not think it is possible (for me) without lusting in some way.
To avoid repeating too much of what already has been stated, I’ll say I largely agree with OWM and especially David. Expanding on that with a few additional thoughts:
- Even your DD just going through your personal items and investigating the vibe, even if she did not use it to masturbate, is an offense that needs addressed.
- While solo M is generally viewed favorably here, the common consensus is that M will increase a woman’s sex drive as discussed here. Do you really want to encourage your unmarried daughter to increase her sex drive, which for her will be increasing her temptation into sin?
- I have read horror stories about women in their mid 20’s finally having sex after more than a decade of solo M with progressively more powerful (and bigger) toys. In those stories, they found little/no physical enjoyment in partnered sex due to the lack of artificially powerful stimulation. Did these women trade a marriage lifetime of sexual-union pleasure for a decade of electronic-induced O’s? (Ok, supposedly these effects are reversible so I may be exaggerating.) Please note stories like these may be made up (Reddit, etc), but they may be enough to recommend she not use a vibe until after marriage even if she chooses to M (which, lets face it, women have been doing self-stim without vibes for millenia).
- Reading studies on aggregate populations doing anything (including M) should only be used as a rough guidance. This is true even without taking into account the researchers’ bias (which can be significant) People vary, and their own experience may not reflect averages. Even the most tried-and-true OTC drugs (think Tylenol) show outlier behavior in some people–such as no noticeable effect or oppositely a dangerous allergic reaction. So any studies showing M to be (physiologically, since they aren’t measuring spiritual) good need to be taken with a grain of salt. My personal experience with M was horrible, and I would go as far as saying that M’ing to orgasm the first time may have been the worst thing to occur in my entire lifetime, as it led me to/down a highly destructive path that did what might be permanent damage to not just me, but my DW that I had not even met at the time. Without going into details, the M leading to an O without a married partner was a highly destructive and addictive thing for me. Your (and your DD’s) mileage may vary.
- If you had a son and he was masturbating, would you recommend he get a fleshlight?
- If you do come to the mutual decision that she can use a vibe, why not make her pay for it?
- Talking with her about this, no matter what actually happened and what your thoughts are, is a win. Communication is important!
- And finally, something that can delete all of the above–every situation is different and should be handled with great love, care, grace, and compassion. Only God knows her heart and what her future holds–you just get the privilege of shepherding her.
Full disclosure: this marriage bed might go as far as saying that introducing a vibe might’ve been the best thing since introducing PIV on our honeymoon!
(note: edited 3rd bullet slightly for clarity)
Yes, awkward and complicated!
Having grown up being told that M was wrong but as an adult coming to believe that if it doesn’t include lusting, doesn’t become an addiction, etc. it is permissible, I still have some concerns.
Personally, I wouldn’t encourage unmarried people* to M. I would explain that it can be “used” to help avoid temptation and manage a high sex drive. I wouldn’t condemn experimentation and discovery. But I would encourage then to reserve as much of their sexual exploration and enjoyment as possible for the confines of marriage, where we can expect God’s blessing on it. In addition, I wouldn’t encourage the use of vibrators or other toys either.
*(Among married, I would encourage that the spouses talk about it and come to an agreement on it together – so even among married people, my main objective wouldn’t be to encourage it but rather to have them discuss it and steward it in godly and mutually-responsible ways.)
I think there are two issues here. One is whether it’s appropriate for unmarried people to masturbate (and if so, with or without toys), and the second relates to the fact that you suspect your daughter of using one of your toys without permission.
Clearly you need to talk to her about this, and if she used your vibrator without asking she needs to seek forgiveness and accept her punishment. Obviously you need to seek her side of the story, as there may be an innocent explanation, but boundaries need to be both clear and enforced.
As to the other issue, I’m going to put myself in the minority and say that masturbation outside of marriage is at best unwise and at worst sinful. Frankly, I don’t buy the argument of it’s OK if you don’t lust because I don’t think you can masturbate without lust! It’s trying to have the sexual gratification that your spouse should provide but without a spouse, and it led me into sin.
This is a little awkward. 🙂 I haven’t been in this exact place, so I am not sure what I would do. I have encouraged my daughter to get a mirror and learn herself. We have talked about masturbation. My husband asked if we should get her a vibrator and I said no….but she wasn’t taking mine, and at the time we talked, she was acting appalled at the whole idea.
I know I would be careful not to “shame” my children. I also know I would be more bothered by them invading my privacy and taking and using my personal things. That’s the angle I confronted a child when I discovered they were taking and using something of mine for sexual pleasure. I didn’t offer to go and buy them their own. The balance that teens and adults need to learn is to MB in a way that’s honoring the Lord and not sinning, such as lusting but also dishonoring their parents (others) by not respecting what’s theirs.
I am praying with you that the Lord will give you wisdom and the Holy Spirit will lead you each step of the way.
I’m male with no children, so take my advice with a grain of never-been-there-myself salt.
I think probably the best way to handle is is indeed to buy her a toy of her own. I know it’s awkward, but the more nonchalant you can be about it, the more it will normalize and demystify the topic; this should make her more willing to come to you with questions and be more open about talking about it, since she’ll see by your behavior that it’s no big deal.
I really appreciate all these thoughtful insights and especially the prayers! There does seem to be a consensus on communicating about it with her, and on letting her know that the invasion of space/privacy is wrong. I feel like I should offer a bit of a mea culpa on that in two points. I have a zipper pouch that I generally keep the toys in that sits on the floor between my nightstand and the bed. The bag is not big enough and the bed is high and I have gotten into a lazy habit of just dropping the toy(s) down into the gaping opening and leaving it, on the assumption that its placement was good camouflage. I noticed the other day that I was wrong. Furthermore, I keep fuzzy socks in the bottom drawer of my nightstand and allowed her to borrow some recently without thinking, “That drawer is approximately 3″ from the gaping open bag of all my sex toys.” It would be hard for her not to have noticed them. I know what my curiosity would have been about something like that at her age (although the idea of using something I knew my parents had used would have totally grossed me out!)
The other thing is that with only one child, there are no sibling fights and little need for delineating property. DH and I consider everything we own “ours”, and have often referred to items as belonging to “the household”. She may even be thinking in her mind that it is “the household’s” vibrator. o_O Clearly an unexpected outcome!
Thank you again, all. I (and DH, but mostly me!) will give all that has been said much thought and will update you on what happens.
Some of us know the path that masturbation leads down. Fact is, for a lot of people it leads down a path of lust and pornography.
Personally, I think it’s worth taking time to think about what the role of vibrators is, and what your actions teach your daughter. Would buying your daughter a vibrator be rewarding her bad behaviour? What does getting her a vibrator when she’s still young and single teach her about sex? In our marriage, toys complement PIV, but in no way do they replace it, and it’s always a shared experience for mutual pleasure and gratification. I’d worry that rather than teaching her to desire sex within marriage and to wait patiently for the day when she can enjoy her husband, a vibrator would teach her to seek that sexual pleasure now and to use a vibrator as a substitute for PIV.
My philosophy is that I don’t want a situation where my daughter feels like she has to sneak around. My own mom was so reluctant to talk about anything relating to dating (and she assumed I was having sex when I wasn’t) that it turned into a very unhealthy situation for me. I couldn’t talk to her about anything, and I came to a point where the advice of an older woman could have saved me from some serious mental trauma.
So I would talk to your daughter about it, and maybe offer to give her a budget to purchase something of her own. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss the sharing of personally hygienic products. You wouldn’t use each other’s toothbrushes, so….
I’ll pray for you. This is a tough one.
It seems like some questions to ask are, 1) is the vibrator we are speaking of for penetration or just external stimulation? 2) Is there a difference in morality between the two? Are we okay for external stimulation but not penetrative?
The truth is, where there’s a will there’s a way. As a girl who grew up in a sexually silent home. I naturally and creatively found ways to find sexual pleasure….I didn’t need any kind of official “sex toy”. And honestly, if I knew I was “found out” it wouldn’t have created an openness, it would have caused me to go underground more, but that may have more to do with the dynamics of the home in general. But if I would have had a safe place to actually dig down and understand root desires and what was truly going on, that could have removed a lot of misinformation, lies and shame over a lot of years.