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Dr. Robert Saltzman,

I was looking through my 12 year old son's digital camera and found some videos where he and a same age male friend were pretending masturbate and pretending to have sex with each other. They were laughing as if nothing was wrong with what they were doing. Two weeks later he was spending the weekend with another friend who has a 14 year old older brother. He and the older brother were caught in bed together under the same covers but not together, nude from the waist down. I am a single mother. What am I to do?


Dear Concerned,

I understand completely that you would be upset by the idea of your young son experimenting with sex, and perhaps the idea that this is homosexual experimentation seems even worse to you. And, I imagine that being a single mom makes things even worse, since you have no one with whom to share your concerns, and no man to tell you about his own youthful masturbation experiences with others. That said, in my opinion, it is perfectly normal for boys of your son's age to be awaking sexually, and to be experimenting in various ways, including masturbation and fondling one another.

I suggest that you simply try to accept that sexual play is a part of adolescent life, and that you allow your son to do what he needs to do in order to mature into a sexually active man. If you find the same-sex aspect of this situation particularly worrisome, you should know that many people have some same-sex contacts during childhood, and that those who are naturally heterosexual will turn out that way regardless, while those who are naturally homosexual will end up going that way. In other words, early sexual experimentation of any kind does not make someone either straight or gay.

If you continue to be terribly troubled, you might consider seeking some counseling for yourself in order to increase your understanding of human sexuality and how it develops. This kind of counseling would be aimed also at helping you not to make your son feel guilty for what really is just normal developmental experimentation.

Be well.

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