Oops! How to Handle Getting Caught in the Act

One mom shares her story of an awkward family moment as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

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It's a tough moment when Mommy and Daddy get caught in... compromising positions. Lyss Stern, parenting expert and founder of DivaLysscious Moms, has been there and done that, and lived to tell the tale. Stern shared her own experience with getting "caught in the act" coming home from a fancy work event; with the children already put to bed by their nanny, and Stern was looking forward to some "alone time" with her husband, who was waiting up. Stern recalls: "My plan was going perfectly as we started passionately kissing. Just as I was thinking in my mind, "thank goodness the boys are asleep; this alone time was so needed," my four year old BURSTS through the door-he wants "fresh orange juice," because, you know, EVERY four year old needs a fresh round of juice at 1 o'clock in the morning. My husband and I immediately stopped what we were doing, and my son asked what was going on. We told him we were just about to go to bed ourselves. "Then why is mommy in a fancy dress?" I told him it was my new fancy nightgown. Now, I can never wear that dress out to an event again without my son asking me if I'm on my way to a pajama party!!"

In light of the complicated situations these "moments" can present, Stern gave us some of her own insight on how to handle these delicate and, um ... awkward situations with our kids, and shared her best "tongue-in-cheek" tips below (for tips from a child psychologist go here):

  • Be prepared with a story or an explanation. Stern suggests keeping a few excuses or explanations handy that you feel comfortable saying to your child if and when you are caught in the act. "A classic, cliche response is, 'mommy and daddy were having a wrestling match,' which may work for the more gullible, go-with-the-flow-type kid," Stern says.

  • Set boundaries for your kids. In the Stern home, they try to enforce some privacy rules. "'KNOCK before you come into mommy and daddy's room' is an oft-taught boundary, and most children that are a little older will understand this," says Stern.

  • Handle the tough questions with care. Stern notes that the response and diffusing the situation can make all the difference in a child's immediate reaction to the situation. "Another possible response to the "why are you naked?" question is "we were about to shower" or, if it's summer, "we were getting our bathing suits on." Or, there's always the casual, "Mommy and daddy were just hugging goodnight," she says.

Truly, it can be an awkward moment for everyone -- or a great family moment if you handle it the right way. Tell us, how do you handle getting caught in the act?

Lyss Stern lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. She is the founder of DivaLysscious Moms, which was born to bridge the gap between a glam, pre-baby lifestyle and a post-baby life where there are more midnight feedings than midnight soirées. Rather than toss aside her beloved stilettos for strollers, Lyss embraced them both and created a company that keeps the party going (except at nap time). You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo used with permission from Lyss Stern.

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Comments (1)
Photo of Brandie H.
Brandie H.
I caught my parents a few times and they did not handle it well. I was mostly older, enough to have a general idea of what sex was (from movies and friends mostly), and they made me feel ashamed and embarrassed.

If they're younger I think going with hugging/cuddling is always a good option. You're not *technically* lying lol.

It depends on what age group I think. Older kids can understand that when mommy and daddy really love each other they do things that are private that you may not understand right now. Just know that your mom and dad love each other very much.
Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:50 AM
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