2:44 pm - 03/09/2013

Single father of a masturbating pre-teen girl.

42 year old single father of a 12 year old girl. Everything was very cool up until this past year when her body started changing. We are getting into territory I know little about.

My latest concern, every time she goes into her bathroom for a shower, she's in there for 20 mins before she even turns the water on. I can hear a great deal of heavy breathing. Almost "panting" for lack of a better term. Clearly she doesn't know how loud she is. I figure I know what she's doing in there. What I DON'T want to do is embarrass her or discourage her. I don't want her to feel like she's doing anything wrong or dirty. BUT I'm worried. Isn't 12 kinda young? Will this lead her to having sex to early?

Glad I found this site. Without a mother or. Gf to ask advise from, I could use some education for both of our benefits.
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x_jessicah 9th-Mar-2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
12 years old isn't early, I don't think.
From what I've heard among friends, girls seem to start masturbating quite early on. I wouldn't be considered about her age :-) She's hit puberty by now, her hormones are rising up.

P.S. It's so nice to know there are fathers out there like you who are genuinely considered/interested in their daughter's well-being.
sarahrose 10th-Mar-2013 04:34 am (UTC)
This, including the P.S.

I was 14. I developed at 8, 9 years old. It's good you're not discouraging her or shaming her!!!

I would say it might actually help her not to having sex earlier. I'm a 26-year-old proud virgin, and I masturbate regularly - it gets me through those rough patches of wanting sex badly. All is well.

Don't be too concerned. Just... go with the flow, ya know? :)
slinkslowdown 9th-Mar-2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
I don't think 12 is too young, that's when I started.
ugitsisgv 9th-Mar-2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
I don't think 12 is early. I started at 11. I think it's pretty normal.
eavanmoore 9th-Mar-2013 10:54 pm (UTC)
It's not too young at all. Many kids -- boys or girls -- start masturbating when they're tiny (I'm talking three or younger). At this age it makes complete sense that she'd be masturbating, and the shower is a natural place to do it.

And no, it won't lead to her having sex too early. She's going to have sexual feelings whether or not she masturbates; she might as well get some low-risk fun out of them.
lupinelullaby 10th-Mar-2013 08:24 am (UTC)
This. I've been masturbating regularly before bed time for as long as I can remember (which is from about 2 years old).

Masturbation is a safe way to release sexual tension.
llama_friendly 9th-Mar-2013 10:59 pm (UTC)
I was around 5 years old when I first started. Come to find out, many of my female friends began around that age as well, which was surprising because I thought I was so young! At that age, it wasn't really a sexual thing..more of something that felt good. It became a sexual thing when I hit high school but even then I was not interested in having sex. I was 18 when I lost my virginity, which I believe is an appropriate age. So, I don't think masturbation is really a gateway to anything. She's lucky to have such a good dad!

Maybe you could turn some music on to avoid hearing anything? Or even put a radio in the bathroom and encourage her to use it?
mousy7 Cool9th-Mar-2013 11:08 pm (UTC)
I bought an iPod doc radio just for the bathroom. We live in a 907 square foot house. I'm not trying to snoop. This house just isn't that big. I am under the impression that guys (such as myself) usually discover their little friends in their mid teens. Girls discover theirs earlier? I am unaware.

At 12 are you just shaking up the bottle, or does the cork actually pop?
natyanayaki 9th-Mar-2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
Hi! Masturbation alone wouldn't necessarily lead to early sex, and I don't think 12 is early either (I don't really think there is an "early"), often really young kids (even under six) find out "doing this feels good" and they repeat, it doesn't have to be related to hormones/puberty.

I do think though it's a good idea to make sure communication is open, I'm not at all suggesting that you discuss this specifically, but just make sure she is educated, that she knows she can be open with you. The best way to make sure a girl isn't engaging in sex too soon, that she isn't pressured into sex, is to give her knowledge, resources, and confidence (and the knowledge that she has someone with whom she can have open and frank conversations). (If this is something you're worried about, if you're unsure about how to have these conversations, Gyno offices or women's clinic's might have pamphlets/helpful resources).
pinkdagger 9th-Mar-2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
Joining the choir that 12 isn't too young, especially considering most toddlers will masturbate without really knowing it - just that it feels "nice". I may have been 12 or younger when I started, and I also abstained from partnered activities and dating until I was 21. I don't think there's much, if any correlation between masturbation and sex at an early age. Better to be able to ease any sexual frustration on your own, imo.
sullenduchess 9th-Mar-2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
I think it's great that you are accepting and don't want her to have body shame. I do want to add a point that others haven't mentioned... make sure she knows this isn't something you do in public. I know it seems obvious, but to some, it isn't... I sat next to a girl in eighth grade who regularly masturbated in class and no one said or did anything about it. Not her parents or teachers.... and like, a lot of the kids knew and made fun of her! Eventually I just said "listen, it is fine to touch yourself at home but please stop doing it in class" (likely with a lot less tact, because, y'know, 13).

And yeah, 12 is a totally normal, average age. I do find that those with clitorises tend to "discover" them before those with penises discover theirs.
krysty 9th-Mar-2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
That sounds totally normal to me. I personally love Laci Green for all things sex ed. Her videos are easy to understand, short, direct, and are really sex/body/gender/individuality positive. http://www.youtube.com/user/lacigreen
nightengalesknd 9th-Mar-2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
12 is pretty typical. Some people masturbate as toddlers and some never do. Some people who masturbate assosciate it with other sexual thoughts or feelings while some people just like the way it feels. I don't know of any correlation with the age people start to have any sexual thoughts or masturbate and the age they have sexual relationships or intercourse with other people. Some people who masturbate never have sexual relations with other people, although this isn't very common.

If you are looking for resources and your daughter likes to read, I wanted to recommend a book that addresses puberty, body changes, feelings and related topics for middle schoolers: "What's Happening to my Body? Book For Girls." Another book about puberty that I like for pre-teens is "The Care and Keeping of You." This one does not address sexuality at all.
mercyoverthrown 10th-Mar-2013 12:17 am (UTC)
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris is another good one. :)
pyraterose 10th-Mar-2013 12:27 am (UTC)
I was messing around down there from the age of 3 or 4...I didn't know anything except that it felt good. Once I did know what it was I kept doing it, though. I was a virgin until 19 and the only man I ever slept with was my (now) husband. Think of it this way--if she can "take care of business" herself, she likely won't need someone else to do it for her for awhile?
aprilio 10th-Mar-2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Same thing here, I started masturbating when I was very young (so young I can't remember how old I was when I first "discovered" that it felt good). I also never did date until I was 20 and did not engage in sexual activity of any kind until I was 21.

I Also agree with the "taking care of business" herself.. I mean if anything it's easier and more convenient to get off on my own than messing around with some guy who may or may not know what he's is doing.
archangelbeth 10th-Mar-2013 01:08 am (UTC)
Don't worry about her age -- some kids are "early" in that regard, and some will be "late." (I was a late one.)

If anything, knowing what she likes may make her less likely to seek out partners -- why deal with boys (who can be jerks very easily at that age; my kid is appalled by them) when she just needs some alone-time?

I would suggest that if you haven't had the "Where Babies Come From" talk, that you might want to have it reasonably soon -- and keep your poker-face going a bit longer, so you can add in, "There are some people who want to start doing things early, but that can get really complicated, and there are health considerations. It can be really hard to figure out things emotionally, and some people will be pushy about your boundaries, and it's generally a good idea to just take care of yourself till you're older and are more able to know what your boundaries are, and feel firmer about making it clear you've got 'em." Setting boundaries, and the concept that she can set her own, are probably the best things to reinforce at this time.

I'd also suggest getting her a hand-held showerhead, and a shower-stool, "for when she might want to start shaving her legs." That may make the water-bill higher, but at least you don't overhear things?
natyanayaki 10th-Mar-2013 02:33 am (UTC)
If anything, knowing what she likes may make her less likely to seek out partners -- why deal with boys (who can be jerks very easily at that age; my kid is appalled by them) when she just needs some alone-time?

Good point, and often PiV sex might not seem interesting to someone. If a young girl knows that isn't all that interesting to her, and is confident it might be easier for her to say no. I mean, boys at that age often don't care about pleasuring the girl after all.

I second opening communication soonish.
neumeindil 10th-Mar-2013 02:42 am (UTC)
My father (who, while he wasn't technically a single parent might as well have been) kind of let me set the pace as I hit my teens, and over all it was what was best for me. Your kid may be different, though, so you'll have to suss her out about this. Ultimately, as her parent, you'll need to give her the tools she needs to keep herself healthy and make good decisions for the next 80 years. How involved and intensive you get on this particular topic is up to your mutual comfort levels. She's probably a little weirded out or scared, so it's important she knows she's loved, trusted, respected, and cherished. Ime, that's a part parents and health classes forget. :( Practically speaking, she needs to know to wash her hands and any aids she might be using while she's in the bathroom. Likewise, she needs to know that if something does change drastically in terms of what her body's doing (discharge, pain in new/surprising places, period arrives when she doesn't expect it or doesn't go away, difficulty urinating or whatever), she'll need to go to a nurse/doctor eventually. Finding a way for her to check symptoms on her own (coolnurse.com is a website I like for this kind of thing) in case she notices something different is probably the best way to go, or at least a good tool to have in the arsenal so to speak.

Also, and you may already realize this but, be aware that this is probably going to be an awkward talk regardless of when and how you have it. Doesn't matter whether it's mom or dad giving it, at 12, sex and hormonal changes aren't something a lot of kids want to talk about much at all. It may bring up some anger or sadness about the fact that her mom's not around too. Depending on what her hormones are doing that day, the fact that it's raining outside could trigger a big emotional meltdown; emotions and thinking are just as affected by this stuff as any body part, and sometimes it really sucks! (My father's trick was keeping ice cream/chocolate on hand and surprising me with coloring books and cool science stuff, ymmv.)

If there are other family members around, it might not be a bad idea to check with one you really trust and let your daughter know that she can call that person too. Luckily for you both, even if she ends up with a yeast infection (a temporary suck) or develops ovarian cysts (a longer-term suck), the doctor she already sees can probably treat that too; pediatricians will usually see kids until they're at least 16, sometimes as old as 20. The idea of going to an entirely new doctor for mysterious, invasive, uncomfortable tests and examinations scares the living hell out of a lot of adults. I certainly wasn't ready for the Gynecologist at age 12, and that's probably normal for a lot of kids too. You don't necessarily have to cross that bridge yet, unless she wants to talk to a Gyno specifically.
archangelbeth 10th-Mar-2013 05:27 am (UTC)
this is probably going to be an awkward talk regardless of when and how you have it.

Dear stars, yes. I mean, my kid tells me a lot of stuff, because I've done my best to always make it safe for her to do so, but keeping my poker-face on can be so hard! (And even though she knows it's safe, sometimes I have to sit for a little while, poker-face firmly in place, till she can get up the words to say what she wanted to say.)

Keeping the calm, pleasant, open body-language and expression and words... Very useful. VERY. But it can be very, very hard for the parent to maintain. (It's worth it, I think, both in the short run and the long run -- but there is a certain need to keep a firm grip on the little voice that shrieks, "No! You're too young! And besides, that's private! We don't talk about that, really! And you're too young! AIEEEEEEEE!"

tsemed_chemed 10th-Mar-2013 02:49 am (UTC)
I had my first orgasm while masturbating at 9, and I didn't have what I considered sex until I was 19.

This might be a good time to talk to her about sex, because it's better to have an open conversation about it before she's thinking about actually having it. I really like this youtube video!
knittinggoddess 10th-Mar-2013 03:23 am (UTC)
Will this lead her to having sex to early?
I started masturbating at six. Didn't have partnered sex of any definition for twenty more years. Remember too that there's a difference between "masturbation to be sexual" and "masturbation to feel good". You don't have to decide on which side she falls.

Being comfortable with her own sexuality is going to make her more in charge of her own body. She might delay first sex beyond the "average", she might not, but when it happens she will hopefully be proactive and confident, and not let her partner talk her into anything she doesn't want to do, etc.

Some reading for you:

Edited at 2013-03-10 03:23 am (UTC)
misspaigeb 10th-Mar-2013 03:31 am (UTC)
Just leave her alone, it's normal. That's probably about when I started.
velkoria 10th-Mar-2013 03:54 am (UTC)
I started WAY before 12. I think I can remember doing it as early as 5... I waited until marriage for sex.
imascavenger 10th-Mar-2013 04:11 am (UTC)
Hope this isn't a troll post.

Just let her be, and for the love that is all holy, don't bring it up to her.

12 is not early at all, it's pretty average. Is there an aunt or older female cousin she can talk to? Trust me, no tween girl wants to talk to their dad about this sort of thing, it would probably just creep her out. Until then, just plug in your earphones and listen to a playlist or something.

It's definitely not going to lead to promiscuity - if anything it will help that not happen. Basically, she's just an adolescent going through puberty. It's not as foreign as you're making it out to be.
natyanayaki 10th-Mar-2013 04:55 am (UTC)
Trust me, no tween girl wants to talk to their dad about this sort of thing

I think ti depends, growing up I always felt more comfortable talking to my dad about these things (and I was raised in a two parent household and was and am relatively close to both my parents). And, especially in the case of single parenthood, I think it's important to establish some sort of open-ness, communication freedom because even if there is a close aunt, friend, or adult female cousin I think this trust and communication is important because those individuals might not be available as much.
silbyeatsrazors 10th-Mar-2013 05:47 am (UTC)
A few things!
First, to chime in on what age I started, 11. Second, I also highly recommend The Guide to Getting it On. Great book!!

Third, and I think this is the most important, but I know everyone has different family dynamics. My mom gave me a book when I was in about fifth or sixth grade about "growing up" and this made me feel a few things, some then, and some when I was older.
At the time, it was very awkward and also very funny. A lot of giggling with friends happened with that book. But it also made me feel like my mom was too afraid/not comfortable enough to talk to me about these things. I couldn't talk to her when I started my period, I wrote her a note. No one ever talked to me or gave me books about masturbation, so for YEARS i thought I was doing something "bad". All of this has lead to, later on in life, being really hurtful to our relationship (and being very confused about sex, self-worth, and being comfortable with my body and how to talk about sex and what I like with my husband). Because there are a lot of topics I can't talk to my mom about because she never opened these doors of conversation, and as I get older i realise that she is very prudish and embarrassed of her own sexuality and extends it to others as well and that we all must hate our vaginas. </p>

As a teen, I learned a lot from scarleteen.com, lots of good information for teens about sex, sexual orientation, sti's, male and female reproductive systems, safe sex, tons of stuff! But written in a very teen friendly way.

WHEW! Sorry for the novel!! I think it's so great that you want to talk to your daughter. I know it's hard. But I'm sure she will really appreciate it, even if she is embarrassed or silent.

eavanmoore 10th-Mar-2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
I had the same interpretation of my mother giving me books -- that she wasn't comfortable talking about it. She was basically sex-positive and *wanted* not to be embarrassed, I think, but she couldn't help it.

For my own part, I decided that an honest, frank, embarrassment-free book reading experience was probably better than Mom squinching her face and fighting to get the words out, which is kinda what happened when she did try to talk about stuff. That made me feel pretty uncomfortable.
yelrihs_jefan 10th-Mar-2013 06:17 am (UTC)
I started around 10 or 11 but the difference in my scenario was that I was found out and was confronted by my parents. I remember that being the worst moment of my life, I felt so ashamed and embarrassed, so I hope you don't do the same :\ That being said, I'm now 19 and I'm still a virgin (and don't plan on changing that anytime soon) :)
eavanmoore 10th-Mar-2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
I agree. It can be super-embarrasing when your parents let you know they've heard you.
sweetchild92 10th-Mar-2013 07:25 am (UTC)
Even fetuses have been seen masturbating in utero :p
spikeyannie 10th-Mar-2013 12:24 pm (UTC)
One thing I feel like nobody's pointed out: while masturbating might not be a "gateway drug," it might not delay sex either. Kids are gonna do what they're gonna do...all you can do is educate and support them. "Too young" for sex is so relative, in my opinion. Just encourage her to be safe and arm her with as much knowledge as you can. That's all you can do, it's all you should do, and it will mean the world to her when she grows up feeling confident and proud. I had sex at an earlier age and was shamed by my mother for it...I spent most of my adolescence with all these weird complexes about sex and gender. No matter how much you might think kids "aren't ready," they might do it anyway...and you just have to keep an open channel of communication for when that day comes.
patsrockmybosox 10th-Mar-2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
Echoing what everyone else is saying. 12 definitely isn't too young. I was probably 6 or so when I first started masturbating by rubbing/humping against the bed. I didn't know what it was, just that it felt good. My mom would get flustered when she would catch me (ugh, mortifying when I think back on it now) but I didn't actually know what it was until I was around your daughter's age. I don't think it will necessarily make her start having sex early, but it might not delay anything, either. She'll have sex when she feels like she's ready. My mom always told me that as long as I felt like it was the right thing to be doing at the time, then there was nothing wrong with it as long as I/we were safe about it. I was 14 and a freshman in high school when I lost my virginity. At the time, it did feel right. Looking back, I wish I had waited until I was a little older, but because I was unequipped and didn't know how to handle the backlash that came when my then-boyfriend told all of his upper-classmen friends at school (!). I think the best thing you can do is try to keep the lines of communication open and honest. I wouldn't bring it up to her, but checking out the resources that others have mentioned will help you be prepared if/when she's ready to bring it up with you.
dial_zero 10th-Mar-2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Depending on where you live, your local Planned Parenthood might have parent education classes where you could get some support in navigating this unfamiliar territory.
thedorkygirl 11th-Mar-2013 02:03 am (UTC)
That's a really great suggestion.
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