This is the first in a mini-series of episodes that digs deeper into topics related to sex. Here we talk with Charlotte Rose, co-host of the Speaking of Sex podcast by the Pleasure Mechanics, about what and how we adults learned about sex.
We talk about the shame that pretty much all of us learned to associate with sex (and how to overcome that), and what we can do to improve the chances of having sex with our partner - even if we're feeling so tired that this currently seems out of the question.
We're setting the stage here to approach sex from a less pressured, more fun perspective - which will help us in an upcoming episode to figure out what we want to discuss with our children about sex, sexuality, and pleasure.
Jump to highlights:
(01:00) Today's topic and Parenting Membership reopening announcement
(02:20) Setting Loving and Effective Limits workshop announcement
(03:55) Chris and Charlotte Rose the Pleasure Mechanics
(05:16) The primary focus of today's episode
(06:09) Sex isn't what it used to be before we became parents
(08:39) Responsive desire and spontaneous desire
(09:17) Erotic simulation and how there is nothing wrong with your sexual relationship
(11:54) Creating a culture of pleasure within your relationship
(14:42) Continual consent - it doesn't always need to lead to sex
(15:34) Sex is adults at play
(17:37) Sex educations centered around abstinence, secrecy, and shame and how we move forward from that
(20:39) A parenting opportunity to create a different culture for our children, so that they have to unlearn so much less with regards to sex
(22:35) How does shame show up in parents' sexual relationship?
(25:21) So much judgment about sexuality and how it gets in the way of our connection with our partner
(29:04) A culture of community care to have these conversations
(29:49) Initiation and refusal/rejection
(34:36) Mindful sex: How to enjoy sex more
(39:27) Finding that balance when having the sex conversation with our children
(42:23) Giving kids the building blocks so that they can have an experience to healthy sexuality when it is time for them
(45:39) Experiencing self massage in a non sexual way
[accordion-item title="Click here to read the full transcript"]
Hi, I’m Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. We all want her children to lead fulfilling lives, but it can be so hard to keep up with the latest scientific research on child development and figure out whether and how to incorporate it into our own approach to parenting. Here at Your Parenting Mojo, I do the work for you by critically examining strategies and tools related to parenting and child development that are grounded in scientific research on principles of Respectful Parenting. if you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released, and get a FREE Guide called 13 Reasons Why Your Child Won't Listen to You, and What to Do About Each One, just head over to YourParentingMojo.com/SUBSCRIBE. You can also continue the conversation about the show with other listeners in the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. I do hope you'll join us.
Hello, and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. We have a bit of a different episode lined up for you today, and if you usually listen to the show with your children around, you might want to reconsider that one today because we're going to be talking about S-E-X. And now we have thousands of little kids around the world asking, "What's S-E-X?" So before we get started with this awesome conversation, I wanted to let you know about a couple things happening in the Your Parenting Mojo world. Firstly, open enrollment for the Parenting Membership is coming up starting on May 2. The membership helps families to take information from the podcast and provides the guidance and the support that you need to help you implement these ideas in your own home with your own family. So whether you're struggling with parenting at the moment and wondering how much longer can things keep going like this, or if you're seeing the vaccine-related light at the end of the tunnel and thinking it's not going to be like this forever, and you're looking for tools to support you through that transition, as well as the normal day to day challenges that will still keep coming up as we all get back to real life, the Parenting membership provides the support that you need to not just survive, but thrive in your parenting journey. I’ll share more in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, you can go to YourParentingMojo.com/ParentingMembership to learn more about the membership. And while you're there, you can join the waitlist if you'd like to be the first to be notified when it reopens.
For those of you who might be interested in the membership but would like to dip a toe in the water first or if you can't wait and you need help ASAP then I have some news for you there too. i've just reopened registration for my Setting Loving and Effective Limits Workshop. Normally this is available to pay for and work through at your own pace, but starting Monday, April 26, I will walk you through the whole thing in a series of exercise to help you see limits in an entirely different way. You'll have a little bit of reading and a short exercise to do each day for five days and a supportive community that isn't on Facebook to ask questions and get answers in the community as well as through a masterclass call, where you'll get the chance to ask me questions directly. if you find yourself setting a lot of limits on your children's behavior and they aren't listening to you or they're actively defying you. in the workshop, you'll learn how to cut the number of limits you set by at least half while also not becoming the dreaded permissive parent whose child walks all over them. Parents who go through the workshop report that the tone of the interactions they have in their family makes a huge shift after they learn these tools. And suddenly their children who used to resist every single little thing, are now willing to do amazing things like cooperate, and collaborate, and compromise. So if you could use some more of these things in your life, then head on over to YourParentingMojo.com/SettingLimits to register for the FREE Setting Loving and Effective Limits workshop. Registrations open now and the workshop get started on Monday, April 26. I’ll see you there.
So we were supposed to have two guests today, Chris and Charlotte Rose, who are a couple and who are known as the Pleasure Mechanics, and they are also the host of the podcast Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. And unfortunately Chris is in some gastrointestinal distress and is unable to join us today, but Charlotte has gamely agreed to appear with us, and we're hoping that Chris will be available on a future date to continue the conversation. So I found Chris and Charlotte in a really random way because I was exploring a blog post that therapists Dr. Esther Perel had written called the 7 Verbs That Shaped the Way You Love., and we were looking at that in the Parenting Membership Community because one of the important ways that we've learned about these verbs is through our relationships with our children. And we learned about these through our interactions with our parents. And so the most interesting and useful analysis that I found that super short blog post was in a podcast hosted by our new friends Chris and Charlotte and when I started digging into their work, I realized that I wanted to explore so much more about the ways that our children learn about being in relationships as well as about sex from us. And so I’m not just talking about the anatomically correct terminology and how to spot sexual abuse because we have done episodes on both of those things but how to help children understand boundaries and communication and pleasure in their intimate relationships.
And so today we're going to focus primarily on the parents angle at this and then we will have more guests, hopefully Chris and some other guests as well in the future, looking at how our children learn about this and what our children are learning and what we want to be teaching them about this. So to formally introduce them, Chris who wishes she were here and Charlotte who is here have very similar bios. Reading through their bios, they both studied Sociology as undergrads, then Sexological Bodywork and then Somatic Sexology and then erotic massage and they've been creating online resources on erotic education since 2006. The internet was a thing in 2006. And they're also parents of a six-year-old so welcome Charlotte today and welcome in spirit to Chris as well.
Charlotte Rose 06:04
Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here and yes...
Charlotte Rose 06:06
Chris is so sorry not to be here but hopefully you will chat another moment. Yeah.
Yeah I hope so too. Awesome! Well we are really glad to have you here and we're wondering if maybe we can kind of ease into this topic with something that I’m guessing affects a lot of parents and maybe you're not immune from this either despite all of your training and that is that sex probably isn't what it used to be before we became parents. And we actually use the term kind of broadly in our lives B.C. to mean Before Carys which is our daughter's name and so we might say something like "Oh, we used to do X like mountain biking Before Carys - B.C. - and of course sex is one of those things that can fit into that framework as well. And so I’m curious with all the people that you work with I’m sure many of them are parents, how common is this in among the people that you work with?
Charlotte Rose 06:52
It is so common and I really want people to know that that it is so normal and it makes so much sense that it is harder to prioritize sex in these early years of having kids especially some experts say that up to kind of when your youngest kid is four or five that your life just is so different in this area and it makes sense like our focus of attention is so on this little being all of a sudden and that changes the relational dynamics entirely in your family, in your relationship. We just don't have enough time to take care of ourselves to rest to sleep. Our hormones have changed our experience of our body has changed. Even for non-carrying parents which is also interesting to think about like the oxytocin levels we're getting from looking at our baby is nourishing in a way and we sometimes don't need it as much from our partner and somebody can feel left out because of that. There are just hundreds of dynamics going on depending on your specific family but the similarities are that it is extremely hard to create time and have the energy to be able to really cultivate this part of our life. And we really like to remember that there are seasons of sexuality in our lifetime and that this one is a harder one and partly if we can go at it knowing that that's normal and that we want to stay connected as much as possible so when we get to the other side of that we still want to be having sex with this person and that we feel connected and supported enough that we are interested and want to keep our sexual relationship going. I also want to tell people that like I cannot tell you how many like late 50s, 60s, 70-year-olds report they're having the best sex of our lives. So also just want to know that there is hope ahead because I found that really like surprising and interesting when I first kept hearing this message.
Charlotte Rose 08:39
But one of the important things I want people to know to be able to shift this slowly and to try and increase the amount of connection and intimate connection we can be having is to really know about this idea of responsive desire versus spontaneous desire because this is something that has been studied and it's so important to know. So we have this cultural idea that we experience desire first and then arousal. And often that is how men experience arousal but that's not even always true. But in reality there is this whole... so it's sort of like a lightning bolt hits you...
Yeah like how it happens in the movies.
Charlotte Rose 09:17
That's how we think of right like what happens in Hollywood films so we've been trained like that is what sex is and anyone who deviates from that is broken or not normal and there's something wrong with you. But in reality there's this whole other way of being with our desire and arousal where we're not that interested in sex if there's no context that is erotic, but if there is some kind of external stimulation or from our own brain in stimulation that is kind of sexy then we begin to feel a little bit more arousal and once we begin to feel more arousal then we start to experience desire. And so this can look like if you're getting a little bit of a massage and then all of a sudden you're like "Oh actually I suppose I do feel a bit more interested in this. Can we do a little bit more?" And it's a really simple piece of information but I think if people understand that they might just respond to sexuality and need more erotic context to feel interested in sex, and that that is a normal and totally okay appropriate thing, then I feel like we can choose to be intentional about creating more erotic context for ourselves so that we are interested in sex more. And it's okay to know that it just does, it might take a lot more effort and intentionality to create that in our life. And that's okay. Because the connection with kids and family life is beautiful and rich and deep but it is not erotic. And so to switch gears and to find this other part of ourselves. is an effort or it can be an effort, and that's normal. So just to like, I want people to know that, that they're not broken or not, there's nothing wrong with them or their libido or their relationship.
Charlotte Rose 10:55
So just wants and needs more space and time from family life to be able to step into this other part of your life.
Yeah, and I was thinking about what you said about, you know, massage, we're flexing between the English and American pronunciations here. I usually say massage. But even that can feel like, well, that's a commitment, do I want to end up doing this for the next half hour or an hour for the other person. And one of the ideas that I picked up from your work, I guess, is, firstly, that it's not only touch that can be intimate. Just as I was getting ready for this interview, my husband came in and got the computer set up for me and got a glass of water for me and made sure I had what I needed. And that was a really connecting thing for me. And that's the kind of thing that will, you know, carry through into other areas of our lives. So it doesn't have to be touch but it can be, I wonder if you can speak to that first and then I want to talk about your three-minute, three minute thing.
Charlotte Rose 11:54
Yeah, I feel like anytime you're creating a culture of pleasure or supporting each other, taking care of each other, whether the give and take, that is so supportive in creating a relationship where you are supported, and you want to have sex with them, because you're feeling cared for and nourished. Yeah, and you're right, that can look like short pieces, short little sections of touch but it can also look like the entire culture in your relationship. And doing things that kind of keep your relationship warm. So that it's easier to get hot, is one phrase that we use, and creating a culture of pleasure within your relationship. Like all of those acts of taking care of each other and paying attention to each other really matter and they add up to a really different relationship. And I think especially in these younger years of parenting like that is so much of what we can offer one another. is that kind of give and take, and it matters.
Yeah, yeah. And then something else that i've picked up through your work is this idea of just having a short period of time where you're available for the other person, and it being a super short period of time. Can you tell us how you use that in your work?
Charlotte Rose 13:00
Yeah, I mean, i, you're totally right, though, when you have like, it feels like a commitment to say yes to like a half hour massage or an hour massage. That is a big commitment. Especially when you're in this like parenting context, you're like, I don't know if I’m ready for that. But the idea of just having five minutes of massage or offering five minutes of massage, even while you're on the couch, or you know, your foot, massage, your back massage, whatever, it can just make such a difference. And it really does change your hormones, it changes your experience of your body, it can begin to have you relax, and you don't have to say yes, to having sex to having an hour of massage, like this small micro moments, they really, really, really do add up. And that's a safe thing to say yes to. and cultivating in your relationship, the idea that you can have these small moments, and that doesn't mean that you are necessarily saying yes to sex is really, really, really, really important. Because then you can say yes, more often. it's sort of like otherwise you're saying yes to like, as if sex was like having one meal at a buffet, you know, and then like, every time you went, you had to eat the same meal, you would just want to stop going whereas if you were like, it is literally a whole buffet, what can I eat this time? What do I feel like this time? What's authentic to me right now. And you can have like little bits here and there. And if you make that agreement with your partner through communication, that when you're saying yes to any kind of erotic play, or any kind of erotic touch, that doesn't mean you're saying yes to intercourse. You truly can say yes more often. And those bits of warmth in your relationship, whether that's touch or connection in any way really contribute to a more loving, connected relationship.
Yeah, and I think that's such a, I mean, it's not the way things happen in Hollywood.
Charlotte Rose 14:42
In the movies that I watch, it's, that never happens, right? if they start kissing, you know, there's going to be intercourse at the other end. And so I think it's a complete mind shift. I mean, it was for me when I first heard that, that it was almost like this idea of continual consent. Yes, I’m consenting to this right now. And then I’m consenting to this and you know what, I’m actually not consenting to this right now and that I can do that I mean that's completely different from the way that we think about sex in the Western World not that we're actually taught that much about it beyond you know don't get pregnant and don't enjoy it too much. if you do enjoy it don't talk about it. But it just isn't presented to us in that way and so the idea that we can actually have that kind of relationship with another person where it can be not a constant negotiation but almost just a... I don't know how would you say..? is negotiation the right word or not?
Charlotte Rose 15:34
I think that we often think about sex as something as a performance that we do right or wrong. You know, and when we start to really think about it as a mutual exploration of pleasure and something that we're curious about and like what do you need right now in this moment? How can I support you? How can I nourish you? When we think about it as this renewable resource - pleasure being a renewable resource between the two of you - that one of you has more energy can give you more than another and another moment somebody else has a little bit more energy and can offer more, it becomes a really different thing to frame it as a mutual exploration where you're just curious. And it's like sex is adult play and so how can we play together right now where there aren't the same rules and boundaries of like what is correct and right? But it truly is an exploration it becomes much more interesting and we're able to really be real about what we are doing. Because also the thing about sex right now especially in younger year sex is a lot of people having sex as an act of caretaking their partner's needs. Right and that is not very sexy and can be problematic if we're just like doing the sex in order to like keep our partner happy which is different than valuing our intimate connection and prioritizing it and making time and effort to contribute to it but it is when we think about sex as like something that is about our own pleasure and fulfilling our own needs and our own desires and curiosities the shift... it shifts where the attention is and it's powerful I think for us to really think about what do I want right now. What would be nourishing to my body? And to give time and energy to that inquiry and that helps us not be in that performance mode of just like on routine.
Yeah and if I say yes to the first step. if I say yes to being touched that means I want them to course at the other end and so it seems that that's a really key conversation to have with your partner it's not just something that you kind of magically make happen this shift in the way that you see sex it has to be something you talk about. I don't think couples talk about sex that often right? Mostly?
Charlotte Rose 17:37
Yeah I mean we've grown up in such a, you know there's 40 years of abstinence only education for adults at this point like there is such a culture of secrecy and shame and there's been so much harm and abuse that has happened in that space of secrecy and shame unfortunately. So then when we get to our relationships and we're trying to have intimate loving connections but like on top of all this misinformation and silence it's really challenging. And so many of us are not equipped with enough confidence or comfort just talking about sex and it is so important it's really challenging to think about having a really like, beautiful, exquisite, delicious sex life without being able to have any conversations about what you want, what the other person wants, how to hear that request, how to have boundaries around what you do and don't want. I mean there's so many skill sets. And I do want to say this is where a lot of people find it really helpful to listen to for instance our podcast or other sex podcasts to be able to then discuss it with their partner so that you have kind of getting a familiarity almost with the language as well and comfort with the language before you can kind of metabolize it and talk about it. We also have a resource that PleasureMechanics.com/TALK where they're like 50 different questions you can have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and talk to your partner about. Because it's helpful to have prompts sometimes when it's an unfamiliar subject just to really get into those questions and really be curious about one another. it's an uncomfortable conversation but the more we do it the easier it gets.
Yeah. I could say the unrelated context is like saying penis or vulva to your child which when you first start doing is like I can't believe I’m saying this out loud and the more you do it that you realize it's actually not scary. So we'll put a link to those conversation starters on the episode page and yeah I think it can be really helpful to sort of have something it's sort of a way to hide the shame and a little bit. it's like yeah I want to know this but if I’m asking because of the questions on the list I’m not asking because you know I’m thinking about doing something that's dirty or anything like that.
Charlotte Rose 19:42
Totally. I heard this on this podcast and I was wondering what you thought about that. Right? Like it's such an easy align totally, totally. And even just the more you talk about it like unpacking the idea even that it's dirty right like that's the whole concept and construct that we want to unlearn anyway because we have been taught that. We have absolutely 100% we've inherited that idea, from religious institutions, from parents from grandparents. And it's something that is really embedded in so many of our ideas and thoughts, and how do we like, pull that apart? Because it does influence and impact everything that we do with our body, when we feel that at a deep level,
I was listening to one of your episodes on I can't remember which one it was, but...
Charlotte Rose 20:23
Yes, it probably was actually, and how that has come to us through religion. And I was like, "Well, I’m not religious, I don't you know, I don't believe in God. And so could this really have affected me?" And your point on the show was? Yeah, it really can. Can you talk about that a little bit more?
Charlotte Rose 20:39
Yeah because these ideas really influence and impact culture. And when it impacts culture, it then it's becomes ingrained in people's ideas. And then it's so brilliant than they make us think these ideas in our own minds, right. And so we have all integrated these ideas, and they live inside our own minds. And to undo them is a whole project. it's a lifelong project. And we just need to be gentle with ourselves and know that, but first, we need to be able to see where our shame lives specifically, like, what do we feel shame about? Because there's a whole beautiful, no, it's not beautiful, I’m kidding. But there's a whole range of how that shows up for people, whether that's in how they feel about their own bodies, how they feel about their genitals, how they feel about their desires, you know, all of these are different flavors of shame that we each hold. And so can we look at it? And then really think about where we got that, from? Where do we learn that? And do we agree with it. And if we don't agree with it, can we create a different story that we then begin to live by. And this is why parenting around these subjects is so powerful because we have an opportunity to create such a different culture for our children, so they have to unlearn so much less. And it's such a beautiful opportunity that we can't even know how much of an impact that will have, but to like raise children where there is less shame about their bodies and their genitals and having desires and expressing them and having boundaries. And that consent exists, all of those pieces cannot be underestimated how important they are and how powerful they can be. And so as we're parenting our children in these ways, like we're also re parenting ourselves in a way, and like declaring that these values matter. And it's important. And so I love that you're talking about this and including this in your sphere, because these are parents that are really interested in parenting well. And what a beautiful aspect of life to include in that.
Yeah, I mean, it's critical, isn't it? That it's a central part of our happiness as adults that we get, essentially, I mean, we get so little training for any of it. The stuff that really matters in life, like how to be in a relationship with another person, how to actually take care of and nurture a baby, you don't learn anything about that. Unless you had amazing parents or, you know, younger siblings, where you were intimately involved in that we just aren't taught any of that stuff. And so yeah, the idea that there's anything to learn about sex beyond avoiding getting pregnant is completely out of the realm of possibility in our current education about sex. And so when we're talking about shame, we've sort of talked about it at a high level. And I’m wondering if we can kind of bring it down to an even a bit more practical level of how parents can see this showing up. And I’m just trying to think about how I think about shame and other aspects. And one way that I think about it is, if I think of the words, you know, oh, I hope nobody ever finds out that dot, dot, dot, then whatever fills in that dot, dot, dot is probably something I’m feeling shame about. So I’m wondering if that parallel holds true. And secondly, is it you know, sort of, Oh, I could never ask for dot, dot, dot. is that another way it shows up in sex? How can you help parents to see ‘Oh, yeah, this is a way that shame shows up in my sexual relationships?’
Charlotte Rose 23:48
Charlotte Rose 23:54
So how shame shows up in the parents' sexual relationship? Yeah?
Charlotte Rose 23:58
So that can show up in a lot of different ways. So common is the experience of people experiencing shame about their own bodies. I mean, that is such an enormous one that consumes an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy that absolutely blocks any amount of pleasure and connection that you can be having.
For both men and women? Do you think people who identify as men and women?
Charlotte Rose 24:16
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that we think about it more as a cultural experience for women, but as men have been targeted as a consumer class, they have been sold a lot of messages about how their bodies are not excellent enough, strong enough, masculine enough now. And so I think there's a lot of concern about their own body and it specifically shows up around penis size and hardness. So it's focused there often, but that is an incredibly consuming conversation in a lot of men's minds. And it doesn't need to because we know that women can experience pleasure from all parts of a lover and that like the hardness and length of their penis is actually not significant in...
In any way.
Charlotte Rose 24:52
...the amount of pleasure and orgasms that people are having because a lot of women, most women experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation and so if folks can prioritize and focus on that it can take a lot of the pressure away about penis size. But yes so men and women and all folks I think have concerns about their body about what the genitals look like whether they're 'correct' and I’m using that in brackets.
Charlotte Rose 25:20
Whether they look right or wrong or they're too much or too little. All of that I think spans across all people and then whether or not their desires are okay or too much or too little. Do they want too much is what they want kind of morally incorrect or different than their own self-identity you know like whether that's somebody who it feels like a feminist but then also wants to explore something in the BDSM realm and like have conflict about that. You know there are all sorts of ways that we judge our interest in sexuality but we would never judge somebody going to a horror film and think that that means that they're morally in that they have a moral problem. Like we have all I’m actually skipping ideas because then I was thinking about fantasies but sometimes people think have fantasies and even that feels like they're not morally okay and we just have so much judgement about sexuality and it just gets in the way of all of our connection because when we're focused on our brain and our emotions we're not focusing on the connection between the two of you there. And so you're in your own isolation and therefore not getting to connect and share love and pleasure and connection and so it really takes us out of the relationality. And it's a real shame because often two people are in that together and we're just not getting to experience as much connection and joy and pleasure as we could.
Charlotte Rose 26:36
Because of these manufactured ideas about what is normal and correct and it's such... I feel so angry and sad about it.
Charlotte Rose 26:44
Because it's such a waste.
Yeah, yeah there's so much of this that is a waste isn't it of the way that we're taught to think about things and show up in the world. it makes things so hard for ourselves. So if we are seeing oh yeah I can think of something where I feel ashamed about some aspect of my sexuality is that a beeline for the therapist, or is that listening to five of your episodes and then a beeline for the therapist? What kind of steps do you recommend that people take?
I mean if you have the resources and the interest in having therapy, please do. You know. That's always going to be supportive. I think a lot of people don't necessarily have the resources or the time and a lot of these ideas are cultural ideas. There's nothing wrong with an individual and so that's the level that we try and work out is like having these cultural conversations because we're all in the same freaking conversation in our own minds but we are all silenced and so we don't know that we're all having the same thoughts in our own minds. And so just the more that we're trying to have these conversations and bring this out into the open so we can think about it and talk about it together and see that they are manufactured and that we are actually normal and okay and desirable just as we are. We hope that that will be a service. Absolutely listen to as many podcasts as you desire to and yeah we have an index you can do it by subject so it's relevant for you because we all kind of have different pain points. We all have different places where it's more painful for us than other areas and going into it will always be of service.
It reminds me of something I read a while back and I can't remember where which always really, really irritates me, but it was a feminist therapist I think who was talking about how she had tried to support a client who was coming to her with maybe symptoms of maternal burnout or something like that and the therapist kind of giving the culturally expected, culturally appropriate response rather than stepping outside of that and saying you know what the way that our culture is set up does suck. This isn't you. And so I’m wondering you probably need to find somebody who has specific expertise in sex therapy I would think who has taken steps to step outside of this and isn't just sort of somebody who's swimming in the junk just as much as the rest of us are who's trying to at least see outside of it. Do you find that to be the case?
Charlotte Rose 29:04
Totally, and that's a great point if you want to find a sex therapist specifically you can look for like an ASEC certified sex therapist so there are people who have done some more work and training around this subject because you're right it is really important for the therapist to have unpacked some of their own bias and judgments. Absolutely. But also culturally we need to change you know like we need a culture of community care so that parenting there isn't such a burden on parenting so we don't have to have this conversation about how it's so exhausting and everyone's so depleted they don't have time to like, live a full vibrant life. Right? Because we don't take care of each other. I mean in this country we don't have enough maternal... you know six weeks off you know we could go on that whole line like there's so much there so yes and culturally we also want to change so we're not all in the same conversation.
Yes very much aligned with a lot of things we talk about on the show. For sure. And so I want to come back to the idea of initiation and the ways that that can create problems, because maybe sometimes I’m not in the mood. And I just don't want to have sex right now or I don't want to like I don't even want to get on the train right now, like the first station. You have talked about initiation and sort of refusal/rejection. Can you tell us how you see that issue?
Charlotte Rose 30:19
Yeah, I mean, it's such an important issue because if you think about how many moments there is, refusal, or rejection within a relationship over decades, how you manage that moment is going to have a significant emotional experience within your relationship. So figuring out how to do that moment well, is really important for the long-term feeling state and culture within your relationship. I do want to give a shout out for sex dates in this having scheduled times for touch time, not necessarily saying it has to be sex, but just like time to connect, if that's like naked, cuddling or whatever, so that people can potentially decrease the amount of time there is rejection or refusal, because you've agreed ahead of time. And then if we think about responsive desire, that each of you can take time to prepare yourself to be in the mood to connect, and whatever that could look like for each of you.
Yeah, but again, that may not lead to intercourse at the end of it.
Charlotte Rose 31:14
Exactly. And having that agreement that this is like time that we might just like naked cuddle or touch but like, we're just connecting, we're having it be like an intimacy date, but not a sex date.
Charlotte Rose 31:24
Because I feel like that takes a lot of pressure off. So that's just one piece. But then we think of rejection, being like, I don't want you. And there's research showing that that emotion is closest to feeling physical pain in the body. So Guy Winch has a TEDtalk on this, and it's really significant to really take in that we as humans experience rejection, as it is as close to physical pain as an emotion can be. And so to understand that that moment is really powerful and significant for people. And then we think of refusal as more like, I cannot do that right now, because of what's going on for me, you know, so we're owning and taking responsibility that it is something about us. it's nothing to do with it 'I don't want you.' I just don't want that right now. And bonus, if you can add, but I’m available for this. Right? So finding a counteroffer something that does feel authentic. I am not available for sex right now but would you like to touch and cuddle on the couch for a few minutes and just like hear about your day? You know, like, what is a way you can transform that moment of refusal or rejection into a moment of connection that fits where you're at right then? Because that can be so important.
Yeah, and just to kind of translate that into language that we often use on the show around understanding what are the other person's needs. And especially if your partner is requesting sex because they have a need for connection, then sex is one of a myriad of ways that that need for connection can be met. And I think we often overlook that and see it as well; this is what they're asking for and so this is the only thing that's going to work and they may even see it in that way. Like they may not even see their need for connection underneath that. They're asking for sex, and they don't realize why they're asking for it. if we can actually take a step back and see what is the actual need that I’m trying to fulfil here, it's that I want to be connected to you. Okay, well, given that need, there are probably 50 ways that we can list off right now, that can help us both to feel connected, that don't involve any kind of penetration of anything.
Charlotte Rose 33:28
Exactly. I’m so glad you mentioned that because I absolutely agree. And there is a study that shows that there's 237 reasons that why people have sex.
Charlotte Rose 33:37
But you are so right that of course, that there are so many needs and emotional needs underneath that and can we meet those needs in other ways? And so that's a really valuable conversation to have with your partner of like, what is your why for sex? And what are ten ways I can meet those? Sex being one of them, but what are all these other ways that would actually like nourish that emotional need? So figuring out your why and where that intersects with your partner is such a valuable conversation to have.
I'm writing that down and ask you for that reference.
Yeah. Okay, so let's say we are getting on the train.
Charlotte Rose 34:11
This is something we want to do today. What are some of the ways that we can actually enjoy it more once we've in it? You've talked a little bit about how shame can affect that and how that kind of locks you up in your own brain and we've talked on the show about the stories that your left brain makes up about your experience, and that it's actually usually not based on reality. And if you're telling yourself those stories, you're probably not here right now. How do you approach that issue of enjoying sex more?
Charlotte Rose 34:36
It's such a great question. And there is a lot of evidence that mindful sex is a research backed way that people are enjoying sex more. So one of the main things to focus on is you want to be aware of what is happening at the moment, non-judgmentally. So that piece is so important if we can bring some compassion in and try and decrease the amount of judgement that we feel about what we are about all those things we talked about earlier. That is an essential piece because once we can calm the voices of judgement, we can be more available. So we want to be present to what is happening as it is happening. And that sounds simple, but it is not. Right?
Charlotte Rose 35:16
Like people spend years in meditation, trying to cultivate that skill. But one of the ways we can draw our attention into that is through paying attention to the sensations and the feelings that we're having, as we're having them. And focusing our attention on that instead of on those stories in our mind. Breath can always be a beautiful anchor to bring us back to our sensations, and the experience of pleasure or whatever we're feeling in our body: slight heat, slight warmth. You know, whatever you're feeling in your body, and like putting your full attention on those sensations will really help a person come into paying attention to their own body. And that is a precursor to really enjoying the sex that we're having. There are of course, a lot of other pieces around that, for instance, like, are we having sex, that we're enjoying? Are there a lot of things to make, to change and shift around making sure that the sex we're having is actually what we want to be having? So that is a bigger conversation where we're wanting to express our desires know what we want, share it, communicate, make adjustments. There are a lot of skills in that. But then once we're in the sex that we hopefully are enjoying, it's really about paying attention to our sensations, which is not an easy thing to do. I want to just name that....
Charlotte Rose 36:30
..that sounds simple, but it...
Charlotte Rose 36:31
...it's no, it's not like that's a whole lifetime of work right there.
Yeah, it really is. I’m running a workshop right now called Taming Your Triggers, where we're looking at basically reparenting ourselves. Looking at it from the lens of 'Okay, my child is doing something that is really, really causing me to feel triggered or flooded. What is the ultimate cause of this?' And we start that work by paying attention to what we're feeling leading up to that feeling of being triggered, or flooded, and when it's actually happening, so that we can use those physical sensations as a key to say, 'Okay, something is coming here. I’m feeling that thing in my throat, or that pit in my stomach, I know that something's about to happen. What can I do to shift things here?" And when I’m talking with people, or in the workshop, you know, some of them will say, 'Okay, I laid down, and I paid attention to my breath.' Like you mentioned, and I couldn't tell if I was breathing, or if I was holding my breath. We have such a separation between our logical brain-based understanding, and anything that happens below the neck that some people can't even tell if they're breathing or not when they're paying attention to it. So yeah, I just want to underscore what you're saying about, it sounds so simple to just pay attention to what's happening in your body, but it is not simple at all.
Charlotte Rose 37:45
Totally, absolutely. And then all the kind of things that we do in the rest of our life can, you know, we can have other practices in other parts of our life that then can support that feeling like an easier thing, or something that we're practicing in our bedrooms. You know, whether that's dance or movement, exercise, I mean, there's so many different ways we can like feel the sensations of our bodies, and practice that in other spheres that will support us being able to feel more in bed. But it is also a lifetime of practice, to be gentle with ourselves around that. But calming the judgement is a great place to start.
For sure. Okay, so I wonder if we can maybe transition a little bit to conversations we're having with our children about sex and about pleasure, and, and so obviously, we're not going to be going into intimate details about our sex lives with our children. But it seems as though there needs to be some balance between just talking about sex in the abstract, and sex that we might be having. And the reason I thought of this was I was thinking back to a conversation I had with some neighbors of ours who moved away, they had a child at the time, who's about nine, he was the oldest of three. And he was just figuring out what sex is and his mom reported to us that he said, I know you and dad have had sex at least three times. And so you know, there's obviously a message there that's being passed on about sex and sex makes babies when you do it in some ways with some people, but surely there has to be more to that conversation. And how do we strike that balance where we're not, you know, telling everything that's completely inappropriate about our sex lives, but we're also not just conveying that it makes babies and make sure that doesn't happen before you're a certain age?
Charlotte Rose 39:27
Totally. I mean, I think that so much can be shared with kids without actually sharing any details about our personal sex life. I don't think most kids do want to know about the details of their parents' sex life. I think what's much more important is sharing the values that you hold around sexuality and sharing that. And I think with kids, it's so important to really ask what the question is that they are asking because we can sometimes like leap to a whole other thing that is very adult when they're asking completely different questions and you really don't want to go down that route. So really like asking one or two questions, and Sex Positive Families really talks about this strategy. They're a great website to explore. Melissa is amazing. But so I think, really find out what question they're asking, and then ask follow up questions, so you can answer that specific question. And I think that you can most often do it without giving personal details, because I think most kids end up being kind of grossed out by that. And that's okay. You know, it's more about what do we... What as a family are the values we want to share?
Well, just a pause on that point, isn't that sort of a cultural artifact in itself? I mean, there are many places around the world where children and parents live in the same bedrooms, and there are many, many children. And so the children are probably seeing the parents have sex at some point. So isn't the idea of it being children being grossed out by sex sort of is part of the shame that we're passing on through the generations.
Charlotte Rose 40:51
It could be. it also could be part of just differentiation and having boundaries. And they're kind of saying, this is myself and that is you. And I don't really want to know more about that. And that's okay, and appropriate too. So I don't know, how much is cultural shame about that and how much is appropriate developmental growth? I don't know.
Question to add to my list for...
Charlotte Rose 41:11
I hope to get to talk more about this.
Charlotte Rose 41:14
But I really do think you can answer a lot of questions without sharing personal details. And that that's okay.
Okay. And so yeah, we talked with a sex educator, Saleema Noon a while ago about sort of how to have the basic conversations about sex. And she mentioned, one of the first things you can do is to say, Oh, I’m so glad you asked that question. Tell me more. Why do you want to know? And firstly, that buys you some time, so that you can think, and you don't have to give the first response that pops into your mind. And secondly, yeah, it allows you to clarify, what is the child actually asking here. And so that you can answer that question, rather than something that you jump to that wasn't actually what they're asking. But assuming you're, we're wanting to talk with our children about more than our culture normally does, like pleasure, for example, is just not a conversation that comes up. it may not even come up at school, maybe if the kids are all getting the same message, none of which is about pleasure. And so maybe the child doesn't even know to ask, how are we going to have conversations with our children, that helps them understand that, yes, sex is actually pleasurable. And that's not something to be ashamed of? Where would you start with that?
Charlotte Rose 42:23
I mean, I would start with teaching kids to experience their own pleasure. And they don't even necessarily mean in the self-touch realm, but I mean, in all of life, and at any age, I feel like it's a really, it can be really appropriate, because you never have to actually even talk about sex. Just beginning to give them the building blocks so that they can have an experience to healthy sexuality when it is time for them. And I really love that approach of like a pleasure-based education for our kids and teaching the skills that are essential. Things like being able to like, know your own pleasure pathways. I mean, this can be in a non-sexual way. Right?
So how would you do that? What does that mean, practically?
Charlotte Rose 43:03
So I feel like for instance, like if there's extra time after a shower, and before bedtime, we have massage lotion by our kid's bed, and I’ll just be like, do you want to take a few minutes and give yourself a massage while I finished cleaning the kitchen. So, give her private space to just explore her own body in a way where she gets to know her own body and is touching her body and is feeling what feels good for her for no reason, aside from it just feels good. But I’m making sure to leave so that she can kind of be in her own space around that. So like modelling privacy, and yeah, her own her own autonomy around that, but like really normalizing that she can touch her own body and find out what feels good to her.
Okay, and what kind of age of child are you thinking about here?
Charlotte Rose 43:47
I mean, we started doing that when she was like 4, 5, 6.
Oh, no kidding. Okay.
Charlotte Rose 43:51
And how does she know what to do? Like, if I said to my six-year-old, do you want to give yourself a massage? she'd look at me? And she'd be like, "What?" How do you start that?
Charlotte Rose 44:00
I guess that's because I guess we've been doing this kind of thing since birth. So...
Yeah. So those of us who are arriving a little bit late.
Charlotte Rose 44:07
No never too late, never too late. I mean, I guess I she'd seen me give myself massage. Because that is a practice that I do to cultivate my own experience of my own pleasure pathways. After a shower, I’ll just give myself a massage. So I guess there have been moments where maybe in parallel, so I’ve just kind of like showed, like what I do. in other moments, we've given her foot massage or back massage. And in those moments, I really make sure to say you know, if this stops feeling good, you let me know if you're ready to be done. Let me know if you want me to do more pressure or less pressure or faster or slower. I’m really clear in those moments that I’m training her to expect this level of attentiveness and respecting her boundaries. And that that is assumed. That that is how you start. And it can just be like on the front or the back. You know, you can keep it super appropriate and not confusing. And I think those things really matter. So she like knows her own body knows how to... So she knows in her mouth how to say that "Thank you. I’m done now. You can stop now. Can you add a little bit more pressure? That doesn't feel good. Can you go over there?" I mean, she can do all of that.
Charlotte Rose 45:17
At six, and I feel like it's just been very organic.
Charlotte Rose 45:20
It's not like really didactic. it's just like a, you know, even if I’m like rubbing her back, when I’m reading a book, I will just always say like, you let me know when you're done, or if you want me to move anywhere, just kind of adding these pieces in. So there's the consent. That there is pleasure and voice around how to communicate about them.
Now, that's super helpful. And I wonder if you could tell us a bit more about the self-massage because I think I remember hearing about that once somewhere before that it's something that you should do. And whenever I’m just going to swiping lotion on myself, I always think, yeah, there was something about massages I’m supposed to be doing. And I don't remember what it was or I don't know how to do it. How would you get started with self-massage in a non-sexual way?
Charlotte Rose 46:00
Oh, my God. Well, first of all, it's like one of my favorite things in the entire world.
Charlotte Rose 46:04
Yeah, I like love it. it's super important. My like responsive desire, like I prepare for my own sex life, partly by having a shower, putting up like self-massage and dancing. Because all of that, like helps me get into my own experience of my own body so I can feel my sensations more. I love it. it's like, it's so important to me. So for self. Taking... and it's also a way of practicing mindful, like, you're paying attention to the sensations as they're happening. And it can be a practice of that. So just after the shower, when you're putting on your lotion, just you know, you can put on a song if you want to, like add more jazz to it, but you don't need to. Don't make things more complicated, if that doesn't add to things, but just taking a few more minutes to really feel the contours of your skin. This is the boundary of your body. This is the boundary of where you stop and the world's starts. You know. it is... and like you just how much care, love, attention, nourishment can you pour into your own skin? Like how can you love yourself as you wish you would be touched. And you can bring as much like reverence or devotion or just more casual like caring touch depending on your mood. Like it doesn't have to be a whole production again. But it can be. You know, sometimes I’ll take an hour and do like the candlelit, the thing or just for myself, because I find it incredibly nourishing, and it helps me get into my own body. And this like pleasure as a resource to like, tone my vagus nerve. Like calm my nervous system. Feel better, so that I’m like more nourished and can like contribute to the people around me more fully. And there's a time of parenting where I didn't do it as much and I did feel much more depleted. So does that answer your question? it's really...
Well, I want to know like, what should I be doing? Does it look like just kind of stroking your arm? Or is it giving more pressure? Like as if you were giving somebody else a massage? it usually has more pressure than just kind of stroking. Like, what is the action? What are you doing for an hour?
Charlotte Rose 47:56
So it can be either of those one can be more of a muscular massage, like when you're really like... Yeah, where you're as if somebody else was massaging you where you're really finding the areas of tension. You're exploring with your hands, like where are the places of tension? Where does it feel a little knotty? Where does it feel a little crunchy? And you can kind of put a little more pressure there. it's such a good way of practicing massage to give to a lover also, because you can have the experience of what it feels like inside your body and the experience of what the muscles feel like. So yes, you can do more muscular massage to really like find areas of tension, of course, so many of us have them in the shoulders. And you're using you can use deep pressure and really like pull your hand down. So you're using weight instead of your muscular strength of your hands. You can massage your scalp, you can massage your belly, your breasts, like less in terms of a muscular way, but in terms of like a lymphatic kind of just pulling up towards the armpits, just so that you're like moving everything around. in doing that you begin to feel yourself more. Because you're Yeah, belly massage. I love to do circles on my belly more often lying down than standing up. Legs. Calf and foot massage is like dreamy, that's if I have five minutes, I’ll just do like a few minutes of foot massage on my feet. And it makes such a difference to your whole body. So yes, muscular or if you just want to feel relaxed, like the like gliding over your skin can be really just relaxing and nourishing in a different kind of way.
Okay, good to know.
Charlotte Rose 49:21
Any of that answer any other questions?
Yeah, sure. And I think yeah, now I can actually concretely see like, what is it that I should be drawing when I’m trying something like that. So.
Charlotte Rose 49:31
But of course, it's always about what is pleasurable to you. Like, the question is always what feels pleasurable to me and what do I feel like right now? What would be nourishing to me right now and in different moments it will feel different? And it's such a good place to practice that answering that question for ourselves with no pressure. No right/wrong. Just again, it's a pleasure inquiry. Yeah.
Although I can also imagine shame being an issue in those moments as well potentially when you are so focused on your own body. And things don't look the way they once did. And there's evidence of children. Do you have something that you say to yourself in those moments or that you suggest that people say to themselves or like what is a sort of a regrounding practice that people can use when they are so focused on themselves and then they're like "I wish this didn't look the way it does or didn't feel the way it does?"
Charlotte Rose 50:16
Well then I think it's really valuable to shift from what it looks like to how it feels. And this is where like how can we drop into how it feels because our body no matter what it looks like is a vessel for pleasure and all of us have an ability to access pleasure no matter where we're at on our pleasure journey no matter what has happened to us. So I feel like it's shifting from what we look like to how we feel and also coming into body neutrality like we don't have to shift from not liking our body and being frustrating it to being like "i have the most beautiful body in the whole world. That might not be like realistic for people but can we get a neutrality of like here's my body, this is what it looks like. Here I am. At this moment in time this is what my body looks like can I give myself care and love and attention here because I am here? You know how can we just be with what is and have that be okay and enough? Like our body is enough even though culture has told us it should look like something else. Yeah we do have a good podcast episode on this if you want to link to that that is really about body like how to I can't quite remember what it's about but it's like you know how to love I can't remember what it's about but it's a really solid one that we've got great feedback because it's this is such a central issue for people especially post child at birth or having a kid you know it's enormous so yeah just being with ourselves.
What a lovely way to end. So I wonder parents are probably thinking okay I need some more pleasure mechanics in my life. And you've already heard one half of the duo you haven't even heard the sultry voice from Chris yet. And so can you tell parents where to find you and your resources and also about your free course that you offer for parents who are looking to kickstart some stuff in this arena.
Charlotte Rose 52:00
Thank you. Yes we are over a PleasureMechanics.com and PleasureMechanics.com/FREE is where you will find our Erotic Essentials Course which is... brings you into just sort of all sorts of basics and essentials that we feel like are really important to unlearn what we need to unlearn and start building a more powerful framework to be really enjoying the pleasure that we can access in life and to be experiencing better sex. Like there are all these different shifts that we can make they're quite simple once we know them and can have a really big difference in our life. So please do come over to PleasureMechanics.com/FREE and I know that the links will be in the show notes page I’m sure.
Yeah definitely along with references from stuff we talked about today so thank you so much for being here, Charlotte. it was such a pleasure to speak with you a pleasure in so many ways and I think this is such an important episode for parents for themselves for their own fulfilment as well as to start having different kinds of conversations with our children. So thanks for doing the amazing work that you do and I’m so glad that I found you.
Charlotte Rose 53:08
Thank you so much I’m so grateful to be here and I’m so grateful to your listeners to be caring about this, and to like really making a change in their children's lives and like you know we all wish we could have gotten a different kind of pleasure and sex education I am sure and so how can we offer that to our children and what a gift that is. So I thank parents for like putting in that time and effort and doing the unlearning that we have to do in order to be able to be those parents that can shame-free say the word vulva and encourage kids to not feel as much shame in their own body.
Charlotte Rose 53:42
Alright. Well all of the references that we've discussed on today's show as well as the links to Chris and Charlotte's podcast and to the Free Erotic Essentials Course can be found at YourParentingMojo.com/PleasureMechanics.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of Your Parenting Mojo. Don't forget to subscribe to the show at YourParentingMojo.com to receive new episode notifications and the FREE Guide To 13 Reasons Your Child isn't Listening to You And What To Do About Each One and also join the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. For more respectful research-based ideas to help kids thrive and make parenting easier for you, I’ll see you next time on Your Parenting Mojo.