Dear MKE SEX,
I had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my daughter. She nursed well into toddlerhood, and we weaned about six months ago. When we were weaning, I transitioned our night-time ritual from laying down and nursing to rocking and a story. This really helped us maintain a sense of closeness. The problem is that she frequently tries to reach inside my shirt to touch my nipples during story time. Other moms have told me this is common and I shouldn’t worry about it. But it really bothers me. When we were still nursing, she touched my breasts all the time out of necessity, so it was never a problem. I ask her to stop all the time, but sometimes it’s like I’m trying to read a story to an octopus. She just keeps reaching in. I’m just starting to feel sexy again, and I want to say, “Step off, child! These are mama’s tatas now.” But, I also feel bad because I know she’s not trying to annoy me. Help! What should I do? Am I wrong to just want my body for myself now?
Congratulations on having such a long and successful nursing relationship with your daughter! That’s quite an accomplishment. Your friends are right that it’s normal for your daughter to still seek comfort by reaching down your shirt. After all, for a few years, your breasts were her single best source of everything: food, solace, peace, quiet, hydration, and probably a few things we’re still learning about.
But just because it’s normal for her to try it doesn’t mean that you have to give in. You are allowed to say no, even to your child, to any kind of touch you don’t want. With your story routine, you are still providing her with lots of closeness and cuddling each evening. This is a really good opportunity for you to start teaching your daughter about consent. Though it can seem silly or scary to think of our toddlers in terms of their sexual autonomy, it’s never too early to start talking about it.
One of the most important things we can teach them is that each person has the right to say no to any sort of touching they don’t want. By modeling this for her, you are also showing her that she can set limits about her body, too. Our children really do learn how to be adults from watching us. Since we all want our kids to grow up feeling ownership over their own bodies, it’s important that she see real life examples of this.
If I were you, before you rock her to sleep for the next several nights, I would plainly (but not unkindly) say that story time will be over for the night if she touches your nipples. Tell her you love her, and get set up in your regular story-reading position. Then (and this is the hard part), if she tries to reach inside your shirt, tell her you love her again, and put the book away. If it feels right to continue to cuddle in the chair, then do that. Otherwise, tuck her into bed and say good night.
For more information about helping set good boundaries for your kids, please join us at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, for “Tickling, Teasing and Touch: Creating a Consent Culture for Kids,” a free class at the Tool Shed.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you with an answer.