This Mom's Solution For Parents When It Comes To Teenage Masturbation Is Generating Important Conversations
"I'm going to say something a little controversial, but I promise it makes sense, so hear me out..."
Hello internet friends. Meet Minnesota-based mom of three, Shug — as in sugar. For privacy, her kids also go by nicknames on social media. Bugga is 14, Turkey is 7, and Goo is almost 4. (Literally, the cutest nicknames ever!)
Shug has been going viral on TikTok for showing her approaches to important topics with her kids. An example is her body talk and boundaries video:
In her video — which has over 11 million views — Shug records a conversation with her two oldest kids. She says, "You know how sometimes when you ask me questions, I say, 'This subject may make you feel some things. Are you sure you want to know?'... So, this subject is something that's for bigger people. You are how old? 6. And how old is Bugga? 14. So, this subject is for 14-year-olds, not 6-year-olds because you know about mechanics, not specifics..."
Another one of Shug's TikToks about teens with penises who masturbate has also been gaining a lot of attention:
"I'm going to say something a little controversial, but I promise it makes sense, so hear me out. We all know that it's normal, natural, and healthy for kids to explore their bodies, right? But for people who have a penis or are penis-adjacent, that exploration changes when they hit puberty. And that exploration can need a little bit of clean-up. I know there's all the tropes about lotion and Kleenex and crispy towels and gym socks and whatever. But hear me out..."
"...What if — because we are trying to encourage safe sex practices — we give people things that provide protection. LIKE CONDOMS! Think of it. Easy clean-up, they learn how to put them on, and they get used to what they feel like. So there's never any discomfort when they do become ready to go with a partner. What a magical world where a person with a penis, their first instinct when they become aroused is to grab protection."
BuzzFeed spoke to Shug, who said that sharing the age-appropriate body talks she has with her kids happened on a whim. "I was having a conversation with Turkey in which she was being particularly animated and thought, 'You know, some of my friends would appreciate this.' So, I snagged a video, asked her if she was OK with me sharing it, and posted it."
Shug added, "After I saw how much that video resonated with people, I realized that it would be worth sharing other conversations that I have with my kids."
"I came into this style of parenting through a lucky confluence of factors. Firstly, my mom and dad were always science-based in their approach to body discussions. Secondly, my educational background has lent itself to understanding why I choose to parent how I do. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a human development emphasis, as well as a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling."
"Understanding how brains and bodies develop and interact has been instrumental in navigating conversations and conflicts with my kids as they come up," said Shug.
When asked about her video about masturbation using a condom, Shug said about 80% of people had a positive reaction. "There are always going to be people who disagree with ideas presented — that is the nature of innovation and invention. But that’s also the beauty of my approach: I have no illusions about my way being the only way. I simply share what my family practices and let people tailor it to their own experiences, ideals, and needs," she explained.
"When it comes to the idea of encouraging condom use for self-exploration, I cannot take all the credit for thinking of the idea. My sister and I both have pubescent children and have spent time discussing the developmental and biological needs that they will face as they grow. We have talked at length about how to protect them emotionally and physically. By normalizing self-exploration and discussions about sex, children are less likely to get erroneous information from other sources and have a layer of protection against dangerous forms of exploration. The goal with providing condoms for use during their self-exploration is to help habituate the use of protection during pleasurable activities, to both protect themselves and others," she added.
"Often, our unwillingness to explain bodies and biological processes like sex, self-exploration, and childbirth to children leaves them with the impression that bodies are mystifying or shameful. Our avoidance of the topics — 'I’ll tell you when you’re older,' 'We don’t talk about that stuff,' or 'That’s naughty' — shuts down conversation and makes it difficult for children to approach their caregivers about their bodies."
Although Shug's videos are aimed at helping parents, they are also very beneficial for kids. "Some of the most simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring messages and comments that I get on my videos are from kids. They tell me about how they have been shamed for asking questions, or how they have been afraid to confirm the (often seriously erroneous) information they’ve gotten elsewhere for fear of judgment from their families."
"So much of my approach to everything — body talk, discipline, boundary-setting, and connection — is about healthy communication, and I’ve heard a resounding chorus of people on TikTok telling me that this is new information for them. So, I think that’s probably the most helpful thing about my videos — being able to see something happen, rather than just read about it as a hypothetical practice. Modeling is one of the most effective teaching tools we have as parents, and I’m so honored that I get to share some of the approaches we use in our home with the world," said Shug.