I am a long-time reader of Mothering, just FYI.
I will try to be brief. My 10yo DD came to me recently in tears and very upset. She wanted to confess something to me and had a really hard time getting it out because she was terribly worried I would hate her, reject her, send her to a hospital, etc. :( What finally emerged is that she finds it arousing to see other children experience minor injuries, like a skinned knee, scrape, or bruise. This also is the major player in her sexual thoughts at this time. She is VERY vehement about the fact that she does NOT want to feel this way and that she does NOT ever want to hurt someone herself, and would not. She also says this only happens with MINOR injuries and only with people she does not know. I believe these statements, as she was sobbing and very sincere. She also confessed to me that she will draw scenes like these. I had actually seen a few pictures like these in her desk but didn't think much of them, since she draws a lot. They were just some cartoons of kids playing and falling down. Indeed, the injuries were minor and accidental.
I think it helped her a lot to talk to me about it and hear that I of course still loved her and that sexual fantasies and somewhat unusual sexual preoccupations (I even sort of explained fetishes and S and M since she was desperate to hear that "other people have thoughts like these") are part of the human experience. But she is still worried. Do you think this is something we should seek treatment for? I'm worried that the wrong therapist could really mess this up. I am an open minded person and maybe this is the beginning of a BDSM orientation or maybe it is just a tween presexuality phase? I have no idea. :( Maybe it's some emotional hurt? DD can be a tough kid and we have had some hard times, but I do not consider her seriously in trouble and our family is intact and everything. She does tend towards anxiety and also had some medical issues as a young child--I can't help but wonder if that plays in?
FWIW, I am confident that she has not been sexually abused (we have always discussed this type of safety and I asked her about it again when this came up).
WWYD? Please be kind and sensitive. I feel bad for my girl. She was so worried.
You sound like a very caring mama and it should be an encouragement to you that your dd felt safe enough to come to you to talk about this. In your shoes, I'd certainly be more concerned with how she's feeling about these thoughts than the thoughts themselves, as she seems upset and worried. The only reason I would consider counseling for the issue at this time would be to allay guilt or shame or stress she might be feeling about it, but my guess is that maybe talking to you, and having you reassure her that she is ok, might be enough for now.
If you're wondering what her preoccupation with this might mean for her future, you could talk discreetly with a therapist yourself who has experience with sexuality, to put your mind at ease or help you learn what to look for. My feeling is that this is probably just something to do with budding hormones and not any definitive marker for future sexual or psychological issues. Kids can think and feel all kinds of crazy, weird things around puberty. But of course, if you see anything else worrisome about her behavior or thoughts she confesses to you, then it might be time to delve more deeply. It sounds from your post like you're not seeing any other red flags. In that case, I'd reassure her, not make a big deal about it, and then leave the door open for her to talk to you more if she feels the need.
Thank you. It is also my instinct to be more concerned about her bad feelings/self doubt and guilt than the feeling themselves. However, I am pretty uneducated in things like this and wasn't sure if there is anything to be done, or if this is a nonissue/not anything that can or should be worked through anyway. I do think about her future, and while I feel confident she does not want to hurt others, I wonder if she would be sexually limited if this is her primary interest?
But you say this: "Kids can think and feel all kinds of crazy, weird things around puberty. " DD is my oldest and my own memories of sexuality development are kind of fuzzy. I remember having misconceptions that were due to lack of sex education, and that led to rather confused fantasies due to my poor understanding of actual sex. DD has a clear concept of how sex works, so it isn't this. But would it be not uncommon to have an unusual fixation like this and have it fade with sexual maturity? DD asked me this, and I could not tell her. She is really hoping for this. FWIW, she is physically a smaller, younger 10. No outward signs of puberty. I developed on the later side and I suspect she will follow in my footsteps.
I don't think unusual fixations are uncommon at all. Sure, she has the knowledge about sex, but no experiences. Also, arousal can take many forms and I think it would be in the realm of normal to have it come about in this way, at least for now. I had odd fixations as a kid, but I never told anyone. They were different than your dds, but still odd. I was not sexually abused or molested. I had a very secure, typical upbringing. Sure, my parents weren't perfect, but whose are? FWIW, my odd fixations faded as I got older and now when I remember them, I am really surprised at myself. They have nothing to do with how I am now, they were all in my head, and I have a very healthy sex life with my husband. I would say that "I turned out ok."
If I were you, I would just keep communication open. I agree with pp that if you want to see a therapist to help you handle it, go ahead. However, at this time, I wouldn't send your dd to a therapist. I realize that they are there to help, but I know that if I had been sent to one over odd sexual fantasies, I would have thought it meant that it really wasn't ok after all. If things changed and red flags are discovered, then I might pursue it, but not now.
Thank you, AAk. That was a helpful response. :) As I say, I just don't remember my own puberty that well (not that this is even really puberty) and this isn't really a common kind of conversation among adults, so it's hard to know whether this type of thing is pretty typical or what. It's even really hard to do an Internet search on since child sexuality is understandably a taboo topic. I was thinking that it would be something to ask a sexuality expert about, but I am not sure how to find one online.
I definitely do not want to make a big deal out of this with DD and turn it into some big issue unnecessarily. At the same time, I definitely felt in uncharted waters during this conversation! Parenting is eternally surprising.
Maybe more kids than we know go through stuff like this and most would not bring it up? I have always been very open with DD about sex ed and body questions and she has asked me a lot of things that I would never have dreamed of asking my mom.
I think there are many kids who go through stuff like this. I think it would be very difficult (as a child) to bring up. I think it is awesome that your dd is comfortable enough to share it with you.
Not uncommon at all. I don't have stats for you or anything, but I know I've talked with many people of both sexes who had a phase of feeling sexually interested in their own sex before or during puberty, yet by 18 or 20 years old were certain they were heterosexual and couldn't quite remember why the same-sex fantasies ever seemed appealing.
As for a more "unusual" idea, I remember when I was around 8 feeling obsessed for weeks with the idea of people having an uncontrollable need to do something embarrassing in public, and this seemed very sexy. I was disturbed because I could see how peeing in public was related to sex--you'd be exposing your sexual parts--but why did I keep thinking about people needing to vomit, which is gross and shouldn't be sexy??? It bothered me, but I didn't tell anyone and just tried to distract myself. After a few months the idea faded and, when I looked back on it, seemed very silly. But when I started having more sexual fantasies as a teenager, and on into adulthood, a common theme that really excites me is people experiencing overwhelming desire in public--it's just that now it's only the need for SEX that has that kind of appeal to me.
So, I think you can reassure your daughter that these fantasies will most likely fade away after a while, and her sexual interests will turn toward ideas that feel more comfortable to her. It's wonderful that she felt able to tell you about this.
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
Hey, that's a really great example, Enviro. I can see how what my DD is experiencing could be a little like that...it's like she is responding to something about the excitement and intimacy of the scenario of being hurt and comforted, but isn't really sure what it is is yet. It could transform as her understanding of sexuality changes.
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