For many kids, the scariest thing growing up isn’t monsters under the bed or a bogeyman hiding in the closet. No, their horror comes in the form of muffled moans of unspeakable pleasure. Paralyzed with fear, they lie awake at night with blankets over their head, praying for the terror to end.
I’m talking, of course, about the specific trauma of growing up with parents who love to fuck.
One of 27-year-old Zenyth’s first memories is of his mom getting deep-dicked by his dad. When he walked into their bedroom sleepily one night, he was met by a perfect storm of horror. “They were watching Alien, at the exact part where the Chestburster comes out of someone,” he says. “I was terrified.” But when Zenyth looked to his parents for comfort, he saw something even more upsetting: His dad had his own Chestburster exposed. “He was sitting on the bed with his pants down and a pillow over his wang. Either he didn’t get his clothes back on soon enough or my mom was probably sucking his dick.”
I know this specific pain, too. I have seen my mom riding reverse cowgirl on a cheap outdoor lawn chair. I have eaten Cocoa Pebbles before school as my parents lay below me in the sunken living room, passed out, naked in the 69 position. And while walking in the hallway outside my parent’s room, I could sometimes hear the pre-humping giggles, or my mom loudly whispering, “Wanna fuck?” It would send me into a panic of preparation. I would turn the volume on the TV way up to drown out the sex sounds, or slam close every kitchen cabinet in a desperate attempt to let them know I could hear every thrust. Nothing, however, seemed to work.
Thirty-seven-year-old Katherine has also had a parental 69 experience. “I burst into their bedroom scared one night, and they were straight-up 69ing,” she tells me. “They didn’t notice me, though, so I walked away.” Still scared, however, she later made a second attempt, and this time they took notice. “I remember my dad kind of flipped off of her and began scratching his balls, which is forever seared into my memory.”
But the worst was yet to come (pun unavoidable). In middle school, a group of kids came over to watch Jurassic Park, which Katherine had taped off of TV. According to her, “When it started, it was clearly porn. We were all like, ‘WHAT?!?!?!’ All the dudes thought the chick was hot. Then she turned her head. It was MY MOM.”
Amanda, a 38-year-old from Seattle, had a bedroom that was right across from her parents’. While loud moaning was the soundtrack of her childhood, she’s grateful that she never caught them in the act. Her brother wasn’t so fortunate. “He and his friend stopped by our house to grab something and walked in to see my dad fucking my mom as she was bent over the living room couch,” Amanda tells me. Her totally naked dad ran off, leaving her mom bare-bottomed in only a T-shirt to talk to a group of 11-year-old boys.
According to certified sex therapist Christian Jordal, having sexual parents can lead to several different outcomes. When a child feels shame or anxiety around their parents’ sexual activity, it can often cause issues as they navigate their own sexuality as an adult. “Because of these negative childhood experiences, I’ve seen adults who struggle with confidence in their ability to know their own body and to know what turns them on, which leads to an inability to communicate that to partners,” he explains.
But he also believes that parents who are openly sexually active can have a positive influence on their children, too. “If they provide their children with an early, ongoing and age-appropriate education around their body and how their body functions in regards to sexual desire, the outcome is often good,” he says. “Let’s just say that those individuals aren’t coming to see me.”
Unfortunately, Megan, a 35-year-old in Texas, falls into the former category. She says having parents who openly fucked made her feel the need to be sexy from a young age, and she used it as a tool to get things, including friends. Thankfully, with time, she’s been able to achieve a healthier relationship with sex. “I do feel like I’m sexually open in a good way now,” she says. “I don’t have kids, but my boyfriend has children, and I’d be comfortable talking to them if they asked me questions.”
Although he considers himself sex-positive, Zenyth also wonders if his parents’ bountiful sex life has created some issues for him as well. “It may have caused a correlation of sex and love for me, as I can feel unloved if I’m not having sex or being touched by someone,” he says. “But maybe it’s just that I have my mom’s stupid fucking horny-as-shit genes. I haven’t gotten into any of this with my therapist yet.”
Jordal does think that today’s parents are better at having healthy boundaries with their children and stresses the importance of communicating with them about sex. “It’s crucial for parents to establish a comfort talking about sex early on and then keeping that conversation going — and developmentally appropriate,” he says. Encourage them to ask questions along the way, too. “But don’t expect to have all the answers,” Jordal warns. “There are lots of resources online that help parents get informed so that they can answer any questions their kids may have.”
Being a parent herself has definitely given Amanda a new perspective on what she overheard as a child, and she’s gone to great lengths not to have history repeat itself with her kids. “I certainly appreciate some of the ways my mom was open, like the way she handled my first period, but I wouldn’t share all the things she did with me growing up,” she says. “I just don’t think my kid needs to know the exact details regarding the day she was conceived.”
And I don’t need to know that after two daiquiris, my mom likes it hard and deep. But here we are.