HELP! playing "married" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i know this stuff is normal...but help? please?

my son is 4 and we have a new neighbor, a 4 yo girl. she is a very sweet girl, i like her parent, etc.

but they keep getting on the bed together and laying on each other. they say they're playing "married".

i stay calm and say, ok, but let's play in the livingroom. they say they don't want to, so i say "you can play married in the lr." they say no...i say they can even play wedding and act like they're having a wedding. they're distracted for a while, but then they went back in there, and i come back and they are slow dancing, gazing into each others eyes! wha??they're 4!

so i keep distracting, and they keep going back to playing married. i would be fine if playing married was, say, cooking together, or playing house. but to them, playing married means a whole lotta cuddling.

i don't think they are touching each other or anything like that.

i don't want to make them ashamed or anything, so i'm trying be be laid back, but really trying to redirect...

any advice here? this is new to me...
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#2 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i want to add that i have no problem with hugging, etc...but this kind of "cuddling" seems way too mature.
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#3 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ok, maybe my post sounds really stupid...
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#4 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 06:56 PM
 
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i never read this forum so i didnt see your post.

it isnt stupid!

my oldest is only 2... i am trying to imagine a couple of years ahead.

i think what you are going is right, dont freak out, dont just pay no mind. in some ways it is very pleasant that "married" to them is cuddling and such. obviously their parents love eachother. .

i know it isnt funny, and it can feel like a sticky situation... but i think tis period of exploration will give way to a new one with time. the new one will likely be just as challenging for you!

while i was pregnant my son went thru a phase where he would tantrum if i didnt completely undress us both and nurse him. it was a hard time for me, but i found that we got through it with a tad bit of compromise on each side. i did my best to supress the weird sex issues i was raised with, i dont want to pass those on yk.

hugs. hope some more experienced mamas have something to say, as well.

tabitha

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#5 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 07:08 PM
 
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Sounds really sweet! What exactly is bothering you? You don't want them to cuddle? What exploration of two 4 year olds could be bad? Just wondering.
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#6 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i don't know! i guess it's that he's on top of her, in a bed...
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#7 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 07:44 PM
 
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I'm really not sure why your freaking out about it. It sounds totally normal and they are both in agreement, no one is forcing the other. It doesn't even sound like touching of genitals is happening. They are using play to understand what it means to be married. I agree with the PP that it's a good thing that they see cuddling as a part of marriage. Sounds like they have loving role models. In which case, I'm not sure what your afraid is going to happen?
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#8 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 08:17 PM
 
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i would probably be uncomfortable, too, but i remember playing similar games as well as the old "you show me yours, i'll show you mine". i think you should just go make a cup of tea and come back in a few minutes and see what they're doing. maybe you could open up a dialogue with them about "playing married". have they seen a lot of tv, maybe soaps? i'm sure they're trying to work thru/understand some things. maybe just a gentle "two people get married when they love each other a lot" or however you want to word it better. do you think they could've seen mom and dad?

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#9 of 22 Old 08-24-2004, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i guess my post seems like i'm freaking out...reading it again, i can see how. i don't feel freaked out, fwiw :LOL it's just a new situation for me as a parent and i want to make sure i handle it in a good way.

the funny thing is, if someone else had written this post, i probably would have said similar things in my replies. but actually seeing it happen makes me wonder, i guess. i don't know...
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#10 of 22 Old 08-25-2004, 07:52 PM
 
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FWIW, personally, I would have the kids move to a more supervised area like the living room. If they aren't doing anything 'wrong', then they should have no problem doing it in front of you. I know that they are just innocent children, but I have heard about these things getting out of hand.(namely with my own nieces and nephews)

I know that its innocent, so I don't make my children feel bad about it or shame them for it. I do like to redirect though like...'Let's make some cookies', or 'let's take a walk or ride bikes now'....things that get them up and moving and redirects their energy.

Maybe its time to have a talk with your son about marriage and what it means to be married. I have talked with my children about modesty and touched lightly on chastity because those issuses are important to us. It is very important though to not shame your son or make him feel bad about it or his body because its perfectly normal.

Maybe your conversation with your son will help you to talk to him some more about what is 'private' and who can touch those areas, and who he should tell if someone does it without his permission.

HTH!!
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#11 of 22 Old 08-25-2004, 08:11 PM
 
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Mamaley - your post reminded me of something that happened last year when my daughter was in kindergarten. When the children got out of school several of the boys and girls were running around playing tag and eventually only one girl was left playing with the boys. One of the boys tackled her (that's how the boys were tagging) and they wound up wrestling on the ground, laughing. He was on top of her. Suddenly, you could just see it in their expressions, there seemed to be an awareness of each other that became different-- they stopped laughing and were looking right into each other's eyes. I saw the girls' mother watching and I could tell she was trying not to overreact but there was her 5 year old, pinned on her back under a boy, and they were kind of frozen, gripping each other's hands and gazing into each other's eyes with something going on. I don't think it was sexual but some kind of sensual awareness of each other's body. This went on for 10 seconds during which I saw the mother open and shut her mouth about 3 times. She was really trying to let the moment pass without a fuss but I could also see that the children seemed to be 'stuck' not knowing what they were feeling and not knowing what to do next. It was like they couldn't stop, were trying to figure out if this was ok or different. So I understand what you're talking about. Children's bodies are very sensitive and I think if they discover something that feels good, in all innocence, they are just as likely to be drawn to it as an adult. I would try talking to your son one on one and keep it light but set limits on where they can play married. OR maybe you can pretend to be the 'baby' who cries and interrupts them...! That's very married in my book!
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#12 of 22 Old 08-29-2004, 08:31 AM
 
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I personally dont see anything wrong with what they are doing and would just leave them alone about it. Let them play !
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#13 of 22 Old 08-29-2004, 02:13 PM
 
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frand- that is an interesting story. If i were her mom, I think I would have called to her that it was time to go. I dont know...

to the OP- well, I did waaaaay more than what your ds and that little girl are doing. Like, my cousin and I did that, but with no clothes on. we had no idea what we were doing. i don't even know where we got the idea, but there was a *lot* of exploration going on. i don't think my mom ever knew about it. so, thinking of that, i would be inclined to say that what is going on at your house is really no big deal.

If a neighbor boy and *my* dd were doing that, i would probably do what you are doing- checking in, offering other activities, etc... I just might want to be in the know. and, I might talk to the girl's mom about it. I would hate for them to witness/find out and fly off the handle about it and confront you and have you say you knew about it but didn't approach them. As the mom of a girl, i think i will be pretty protective about sexual play- just because. i don't have a boy, so i can't say- though I am sure i would feel the same way.
its innocent, but...

i guess my point is, I see where you are coming from and don't think you questioning it is over-reactive.

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#14 of 22 Old 08-29-2004, 03:18 PM
 
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It sounds perfectly normal and innocent, but I would make sure to talk to the little girl's parents about it, just to make sure that everyone is aware and okay with it.

If they have a problem with it, you would need to know that. And if they don't have a problem with it, if they are aware, they can just be sure to keep an eye on things when the kids are at their house.

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#15 of 22 Old 08-29-2004, 05:15 PM
 
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Well, I would be uncomfortable with it. Ialso expect my children to do as I say and if I toold them to come into the living room and they refused I would have to end the play date. Another option in your situation would to have said "OK then I will hangout in here." I also would have told them that we don't "play married", marraige is a commitment between two people and you can only do married stuff when you are really married. Playing house is different, pretending to be mommy and daddy is different, but anything that envolves any sort of that kind of activity is not allowed. I would have probably said " knock it off. we don't play like that here. Now come down and have some cookies . . ." But then I am a "because I said so' type of mom

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#16 of 22 Old 08-30-2004, 12:08 AM
 
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I definitly don't think you overreacted. I wouldn't feel comfortable if I was in your situation. I would probably tell them that marriage is for two adults who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together.

If I went to pick up my son and I found him in the bed room on the bed on top of his friend I would be a little upset. I know children are sexual and sensual but to mock "sex" isn't appropriate IMO. I guess it would be hard for me to distinguish between where pretend "sex" ended and inappropriate touching began.

This is of course my opinion. I too played doctor and "show me yours and I will show you mine".
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#17 of 22 Old 09-03-2004, 01:52 PM
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#18 of 22 Old 09-03-2004, 06:39 PM
 
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um.. you have a problem with children being "exposed" to a loving marriage that involves physical closeness?
I think it is fine for children to "know about that stuff" when "that stuff" is physical closeness between people who love each other. Cuddling is NOT always sexual. Sheesh.

I don't get why people seem to be reading something sinister into it. Are we so so so uptight about sexualty and so full of fear that we read something into innocent kids playing a game and cuddling?

I would keep an eye on it to make sure that's all it is.. but I certainly would NOT lay some trip on a couple of four year olds about marriage..

If it felt weird in anyway, I'd just come up with some other fun, distracting activity.

Some of these posts make me really sad. We have so many issues about sex.. and so many fears someone is going to hurt our kids.. that two innocent kids cuddling becomes a problem.
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#19 of 22 Old 09-03-2004, 07:31 PM
 
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I can see why you would be uncomfortable - I don't think I'd know exactly what to do.

I know for sure I wouldn't talk about sacred promises, or say that marriage is only for adults - they are just playing, they seem to know that kids don't get married. Being any occupation that kids dress up as, is really for adults, kids love to pretend.

I think that it is probably not about sex - kids love physical contact, and somehow they think that laying on each other = marriage. I agree that it's nice that they have loving role models. I'd be far more disturbed if their ideas of marriage included someone screaming at someone else, throwing plates of food or hitting someone.

I'd keep an eye on it, and probably say something like, "Ok, after you're done being married, let's have a snack" and just check on them every so often.

Let us know what happens!

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#20 of 22 Old 09-04-2004, 08:23 AM
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#21 of 22 Old 09-05-2004, 03:01 PM
 
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ITA, asherah.

I well recall the sorts of "games" we played as children. I recall discovering that certain things felt good, without knowing why, etc. I think we have become so distanced from our sexuality that few of us really know what is normal and natural for young children.

I would just keep an eye on things, not make an issue out of it, and of course ask if they'd like to talk about it. But otherwise, I'm inclined to let Nature do its thing.

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#22 of 22 Old 09-05-2004, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asherah
um.. you have a problem with children being "exposed" to a loving marriage that involves physical closeness?
I think it is fine for children to "know about that stuff" when "that stuff" is physical closeness between people who love each other. Cuddling is NOT always sexual. Sheesh.

I don't get why people seem to be reading something sinister into it. Are we so so so uptight about sexualty and so full of fear that we read something into innocent kids playing a game and cuddling?

I would keep an eye on it to make sure that's all it is.. but I certainly would NOT lay some trip on a couple of four year olds about marriage..

If it felt weird in anyway, I'd just come up with some other fun, distracting activity.

Some of these posts make me really sad. We have so many issues about sex.. and so many fears someone is going to hurt our kids.. that two innocent kids cuddling becomes a problem.
did i say that cuddling is sexual? i really didn't mean to imply here that i'm extremely bothered by this. i think i've said it before in this thread.
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