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If she’s not having fun, you have to stop

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If she’s not having fun, you have to stop

My training as a sexologist makes me aware of people, things, and situations around me that have a sexual component to them.  The latest is a situation that I’ve observed for a while now and I could not put my finger on it as to why it concerned me.

Let me explain:

I have a guy friend who is a divorced dad of a 9-year-old girl.  Evidently, as the daughter was growing up, the two of them became very close because the mom was very sick.  This father/daughter combo is very loving; they sit quietly with each other affectionately and evidently, always have.  She is very protective (possessive?) of her father as he now ventures into the dating scene.  And, like most dads, he is extremely aware of her changing prepubescent body, and nervous about the conversations he will need to have with her about the same.  It’s touching for me to see this relationship really, given that this is not the type of relationship my girls have with their father.

Well, over time, I have seen that this father/daughter pair wrestles a bit.  You know, playful roughhousing.  She’ll say something to tease him and he’ll quickly swoop in and put his arm around her shoulders and squeeze her in to him and she squeals with pleasure.  Or she’ll give an answer to something that she knows is wrong as they work on homework together and he’ll give her “the Knuckle”, a move that sends her into fits of giggles as he pokes his knuckle into her side or back.

While I see them when they aren’t being rough, it struck me this past weekend why I’ve been struggling with this roughhousing – he has not started having conversations with her about dating (his own), divorce, love, relationships, puberty, etc, etc. – yet I begin to wonder – will this roughness become a familiar feeling that she will seek out in her adult romantic relationships?  Does she realize she can say “stop”?  There are times when he is pretty rough with her, not that she’s a shrinking violet or anything; she’s not.  She is a confident, happy, seemingly secure little girl.  I’m sure she is thrilled at the 100% attention and affection from her father – what little girl wouldn’t be? But as I wrote in an earlier blog, when we are young adults and even in childhood we are developing what Jack Morin in his book “The Erotic Mind” calls the Core Erotic Theme (CET).

“Your Core Erotic Theme begins its long evolution during childhood and is first sketched out in fantasies and daydreams you probably don’t remember. Because these early images almost certainly grew out of impulses and interests considered inappropriate for children, they were veiled in secrecy. Even now you probably still keep certain ultra-personal turn-ons–-those that spring from your CET–-hidden from other people and quite possibly even from yourself.”

Aside from the potential Core Erotic Theme, if I were the dad in this situation, I would have a conversation with my daughter about Consent; that I love her unconditionally and that our roughhousing is play.  Most importantly, that she has permission to say “no thanks” if she’s really not in the mood or “stop” when it’s too much.  I would also tell her that as she gets older she should always feel comfortable speaking up whenever she doesn’t want to be touched.  Whether it’s a slobbery kiss from a grandparent, or tickling from a cousin, or whoever she is playing with, that she should always feel comfortable saying “no” without worrying about hurting the other person’s feelings.  And that whoever she loves and who loves her shouldn’t play rough with her if she doesn’t like it.  Ever.

To the dad, I will say something.  When I do, I will take a page from a blog I read not that long ago.  The dad tells his two-year old son, who is roughhousing with a little girl/friend, “If she’s not having fun, you have to stop.” Adults should note that a child “doesn’t need to know what sex is or what rape is to know what a partner is. If your partner isn’t having fun, you stop.”

With my own girls, as they were growing up, anytime we had a tickle fight, I told them that if they ever said “stop” I would stop immediately.  My thinking was, I am much bigger than they are and I never wanted them to feel overpowered or not in control.  It has become a game to them.  If we have a tickle fight, they will giggle and laugh uncontrollably, almost to the point of not being able to breathe, they yell STOP, action stops immediately. Then they smile and say “go”.  And it starts all over again.

All of this reduces to one incredibly important concept: CONSENT. It is age appropriate – for ANY age – and a solid foundation onto which a parent can build future talks about sex and sexuality.  This is one example of talking to your kids about sex and sexuality in a way that has NOTHING to do with penises or vulvas but is just as important, if not more so.


2011 The MamaSutra

This article has been republished with permission from Lanae St.John. Please visit Lanae St.John’swebsite  to view the original post and more of Lanae’s works.

Lanae St.John

Lanae St.John is a San Francisco Bay Area based Sexy Mamas Blogger, BoardCertified Sexologist, and Sex Educator. Her work with clients normalizes conversations about sexuality between parents and children, while helping adults to discover a more sexually positive outlook. By teaching parents to nurture the budding sexuality of their children in ways that foster self-respect and acceptance for the totality of their personhood, she helps them raise children who become empowered, beautiful, strong, sexually healthy adults. Lanae also coaches couples and individuals on their sexual questions and concerns, helping them to optimize their sexual experiences and achieve healthy adult sexuality via a sex-positive approach to sexual education. Lanae received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1991. She completed the Associate in Sex Education and Clinical Sexology before going on to receive her Masters in Human Sexuality in 2011 from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate studying Human Sexuality. Ms St.John is a contributing sexpert on the sex education site What They Are She is also co-founder for the site, a site that seeks to empower women to discover and enjoy their own sexuality. She is a Sex & Relationship Panelist for the popular site and is also an expert on, a website combining sex educators and medical professionals together to talk about the female orgasm. Her blog, “The MamaSutra®” on Good Vibrations’ website, was voted into the Top 25 SF Bay Area Mom Blogs in 2011 and she was listed #1 in the 30 Must-”Like” Sex-Positive Facebook Pages. Lanae also co-hosted Season 1 of a show called Sexxx Talk Radio on the Progressive Radio Network – the podcast can be found on iTunes. As The MamaSutra®, Lanae has been featured as a sex-positive parenting expert in SSEX BBOX – a web series documentary featuring people and experts from four cities around the world. Lanae is also featured in the not-yet released feature length documentary “Revolutionary Sex” (working title) by NuReality Productions. In March 2013, Lanae was part of a contingent of Sexologists to travel to China. She lectured on Childhood Sexuality: Fostering Growth Into Sexually Healthy Adults to the Chinese Sexology Association and was asked to submit her paper to The Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality. Coming soon, Ms. St.John can also be found as one of the Expert Faculty of Sex Coach U and as one of Dr. Ava Cadell’s “Love Coach All Stars”. A Board Certified Sexologist (American College of Sexologists, A.C.S.), Lanae is also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (S.S.S.S), The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (A.A.S.E.C.T.) and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (I.S.S.W.S.H.) Lanae is the proud mother of two daughters with whom she actively embodies her message of empowerment, freedom of expression, and a sex- and body-positive mentality.

Get in touch with Lanae via email at


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