Ever since I was 13-years-old and secretly listened to a call-in radio show about sex, dating, and relationships, how society talks about sex has been massively important to me. In college, I became acquainted with sex positive feminism and, well, that's all she wrote, so-to-speak. Maintaining inclusive and safety-oriented ideas about sex and sexuality reaches into every aspect of who I am, and that includes how I approach motherhood. Turns out, it's helped me navigate parenthood in ways I couldn't have imagined it would. In fact, I'd unequivocally say that being sex positive prepares you toddlerhood really well.
Here's something some people don't understand about being sex positive: a lot of the time the "sex" part is completely secondary to the larger points of respecting others, respecting yourself, and safety. Someone who identifies as sex positive isn't just some lascivious wood nymph flouncing about in sheer lingerie banging anyone who crosses her path. (Or maybe she is: I don't know her life.) Most of what sex positivity ultimately boils down to, in the parlance of our generation, is "You do you (particularly in the boudoir) as long as you're safe and you have consent from the people you're doing you, with."
Now, obviously, the boudoir aspect of sex positivity isn't going to be front-and-center when applying sex positivity to parenting, at least not when it comes to toddlers. That doesn't mean, however, that this overall philosophy can't influence or even guide motherhood, especially motherhood with a toddler. For example...
You Are Not Horrified By Nudity, And There Is So. Much. Nudity.
If you're familiar with the story of Adam and Eve, you will know that before their fall from grace they had no concept of their own nudity. It was totally natural to them and they blissfully just let it all hang out in the Garden of Eden. I'm convinced, Adam and Ever were toddlers, because my tiny humans love being naked. I have definitely left a room for a few minutes and come back to find my children naked as jaybirds.
"Hey," I've said as I approached them, scanning the room for their discarded clothing. "Do you want to get dressed?"
"No. I'm fine," they reply, not even bothering to look up from their game. It just doesn't occur to them that nudity isn't always a perfectly acceptable option.
Fortunately, you're sex positive, and while that doesn't necessarily mean you're chill letting your child bum around with their bum out (because there's a time and place for everything), the fact that they are naked hardly scandalizes you. (And, most importantly, you don't make them feel ashamed of their own nudity.)
You Are Willing To Answer The 2,000,000 Questions You Will Be Asked Every Single Day
Being sex positive means welcoming questions and giving as much (age appropriate) information as possible, when requested. Good news! This is going to serve you extremely well with toddlers because as soon as they start to get even kind of verbal, they are going to be asking you about everything under the sun, which makes sense since everything under the sun is still very new to them. "What's that?" "Who's that?" and "Why?" comprised 90% of my daughter's communication for, well, a while.
You Already Recognize The Importance Of Teaching Boundaries...
Any parent of a toddler will tell you that, after a while, "personal space" is a long forgotten memory. Sometimes your personal space has been so invaded by your child for so long that it has wandered into "long forgotten legend" status. Like "Wait, you mean to tell me that there was a time, long ago, when I didn't have a small human clinging to my neck and shoving their feet in my face on the regular? What witchcraft is this?!"
You're a parent, so you know some degree of this is inevitable. However, you're a sex positive parent, so you know the importance of setting physical boundaries (insofar as that is possible) early and firmly.
...And Bodily Autonomy
Just as you seek to set boundaries to secure your personal space, as a sex positive parent you instill from your child early on that their body belongs entirely to them, which isn't actually all that difficult because toddlers believe absolutely everything belongs entirely to them. (Hey, at least you're prepared for it!)
You Don't Over-Analyze Their Inevitable Obsession With Their Genitals
As previously mentioned, everything is new to a toddler, and that includes their own bodies. I would venture to say that toddlers spend just as much time navel gazing (literally) or poring over the intricacies of their own toes as they do probing their genitals, but since we adults are trained to avoid public displays of genitalia, we notice their vulva/penis/testicles fascination more. It's cool, though, because you're sex positive. You know that this is normal and healthy and their curiosity does not shock or bother you. (This will not stop you, however, from telling them, "We don't play with our vulvas at the table.")
The Fact That You Respect Other People's Differences Means You Won't Be Fazed By Your Toddler's Eccentricities
Kids are weird as hell, and toddlers are the weirdest of them all. They wear what they want, they say what they want, and their limited language skills ensure that you will not be able to follow even a sound train of thought (though, rest assured, most of their thought processes are not at all logical).
For example, my two year old routinely dresses like a high society debutante who has decided to become a circus performer. Her favorite topic of conversation, that she brings up at least twice a day, is that time a face painter made her look like a snake. (That conversation is basically just her pointing to her nose saying, "Snake on my face!" over and over, prompting you to reminder her that, yes, it did happen.) Fortunately, your sex positivity, which holds that as long as everyone is safe and having fun it's OK by you, is going to be useful in helping you manage your unusual child.
You Know Masturbation Is Normal and Healthy
Technically, your kid isn't masturbating because there's absolutely nothing sexual about it whatsoever, but they're going to grab onto their junk. Like, a lot. Diaper comes off? Hand goes right to the goods. Immediately. Sometimes even children as young as toddler age will realize, "Wait a second, touching down there feels really good! Let me do it some more!" But you know that getting acquainted with oneself at any age is totally fine, and that your toddler "exploring" themselves isn't a sign that they're some sort of sex-crazed deviant.
You Don't Get Too Hung Up On Prescribed Gender Roles
As the great RuPaul once said, "We're born naked, and the rest is drag." Want proof? Present a toddler with a costume box and see what they choose to wear. Left to their own devices, I can assure you they will not strictly adhere to gender designations. My daughter routinely dresses up as Iron Man, and my son as Princess Merida. Since they've never been steered away, from or toward anything specifically because it confirms the gender they were assigned at birth, they follow their own instincts. Indeed, most toddler parents will discuss how a son likes to wear mommy's shoes or a daughter likes to put on bow ties. As a sex positive parent, you're totally down with this.
You Know The Importance Of Clear Instructions And Commands
Toddlers are an unruly, wild bunch. Above and beyond that, they basically don't know a damn thing. Needless to say, they require a firm and steady hand who can clearly communicate what needs to go down and what absolutely cannot go down. Thankfully, arguably the one defining characteristic of a sex positive person is knowing the importance of clear communication.
Sexy mama, you've got this toddler thing in the bag.