Single Parenting/My Son


Hi -

I'm a single mom and I have a 13 yo son who is masturbating. Is this something I need to talk to him about, or is this normal at that age. Is there anything I should discuss with him, or just let nature take it's course.

I've thought about this before but really don't know what direction I should go.

Thank you,


Hi, Angie, thanks for your question. I think the first thing that would be helpful for you is to consider and list all of the things you think might be wrong / bad / immoral about it. I'm uncertain what those might be (in your mind), but you might be able to distinguish realistic from unrealistic, personal opinion from fact, harmful from benign, and your needs from his.

Perhaps you are wondering whether his age is 'too young' to be sexual, or whether sex can somehow harm him physically or mentally.

As you may know, people have sex. There are at least hundreds of different 'types' of sex that people have. Masturbation is a very common form of sexual activity, at least as common (if not more) than sex between people.

There are at least some benefits to M. One is that no sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted. Another is that it avoids emotional relationships for which he might not yet be ready.

I can think of 2 cautions:

--- one is that teen boys can easily find their way to internet-based pornography. That has the potential to alter his relationships in the future, so I would try to prevent it. There is not enough space to describe in full here, but one way is what is called a 'white list', where the computer only permits certain web sites that you have previously approved.

--- another, rather uncommon, is that some children can become either sexualized or hyper-sexual after they have been molested. Now, don't take this the wrong way - I'm not suggesting that your boy has been, nor am I even suggesting there is a chance. However, many it is something to consider logically / unemotionally, without freaking out and without turning a blind eye. If you think that might be possible, you should take him to a therapist that specializes in this area. I would suggest a psychologist, not any of the other professions.

Chances are likely that this is completely benign. As a teen, when the hormones begin flowing, it seems as though a light switch has been turned on. Erections seem to occur for any reason, sometimes no reason - even walking down the street. There is an urgency to procreate that seems very intense.

Children, even 13 year olds, need guidance - even if they complain about it, and even if they don't hold up their part of the conversation. BUT, it's very important to try to figure out what level of information they need - you don't want to talk under them and you don't want to give them too much information. If you ask kids if they have any questions, 100% will answer 'no'. But, they will listen, even if they pretend they are not. You will have to make extra effort to put aside your own needs and think about his  

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


Questions such as 'what are some options for dealing with this problem' are easiest to answer. It's difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose anyone over the internet.


I'm a licensed psychologist, since 1994. I have raised several step-children.

American Psychological Association Florida Psychological Association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology


Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993

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