BDSM Made me a Better Mother. {Adult}

Via Paget Norton
on Aug 11, 2017
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Not the sex part. Not the flogging. Of course not.

I’m talking about all of the skills that go into making a good BDSM scene before it happens. Those delicate negotiation skills also work with parenting.

Here’s how some of my BDSM skills have helped me become a better parent:

1. Safe words.

In a scene, it’s helpful to have separate words that you and your partner agree on that mean stop, slow down (and/or check in), and go. Some people like to use red, orange/yellow, and green. It could be salt (go!) or pepper (stop!). It could be any number of things aside from “stop,” which can be a fun word to use when heightening the tension.

With my son, our word is “chocolate-chip.” It means something slightly different here, but it works nonetheless. For us, it means “stop what you’re doing and give me your attention.”

For example, the other day my son was in a state of heightened loopy silliness. Silliness to the extreme. In this place, he is extremely physical and not super aware of how his body is moving in the physical space. He’ll use any number of silly, made-up words, and engage in his own world. It often kicks in at exactly the right time: i.e. during his bedtime routine or when we’re trying to get out of the house. In other words—exactly the wrong time for me.

We have agreed that when I say, “chocolate-chip,” he’ll give me his attention and slow down whatever he’s doing. Granted, his mood has a certain degree of momentum behind it, but when he hears those words, he does slow down.

If you and your child can agree on a safe word (especially a somewhat silly, not bathroom-related word), it goes a long way and is often more effective than saying, “sttttttaaaaaahhhhhp!

2. Boundaries.

In BDSM, some people refer to soft and hard boundaries. Soft boundaries are the ones you are willing to push in a healthy way. Maybe you’re only slightly into spanking, but your scene partner is a world-class spanker, so you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and try it out more. Maybe you’ve never done vampire/victim role play, but you’re willing to try it. Those would be soft boundaries.

Hard boundaries are ones that might not ever change, or could potentially change very slowly over time. Imagine if you had been brutally spanked as a kid. That might mean that you would never want that again—even consensually. That would be a hard boundary.

With kids, it’s the same. Some boundaries are hard. No harming yourself or others. No swearing at each other. These are non-negotiable with my son. I will never agree to them.

Soft boundaries might be around weekend bedtimes. We might stay up later than usual. He might ask for extra time to read a book or play a game. I might ask him what he thinks is reasonable around eating enough nutritious food before he has a sweet treat. These are places I’m willing to bend and be flexible, which leads me to the next skill.

3. Consent about body touch.

The BDSM scenes I’ve negotiated have all been consensual. This means saying “yes” to what works for me and my scene partner, physically and emotionally. Physically, there is consent about what I’m willing to do with my body or my partner’s. This means that even my “no” is a form of “yes” to me. After all, my “yes” is only as good as my “no.”

The same goes for my son. From early on, we began with tickling. As soon as he could understand it, we asked people (including ourselves) to ask him whether or not he wanted to be tickled. Some adults feel very awkward around kids, so tickling becomes a default way for them to connect. For kids, however, laughing from tickling is a physiological response and not an empowering one. Having a child give consent around tickling means the child is empowered to choose.

The second prong in this is being picked up. It’s easy to swoop in, sweep up a child, and whisk them into the air. Not all kids like this. I’m constantly surprised and intrigued by the number of times kids will say “no” when asked if they want to be picked up (especially by strangers) but sometimes even by people they know and love. By giving consent to being picked up, they learn to gauge what they want and how to know they are respected.

Same goes for hugs and kisses. The first time my son told me he didn’t want hugs or kisses, I felt myself internally collapse—rejected. But as time has gone by, I’ve appreciated him saying “no.” It makes the “yes” even stronger. I know that he hugs and kisses me because he wants to, not because he has to. It gives him autonomy over his own body and desires.

This is the same autonomy and clarity I have over my own body when I give consent in a BDSM scene. My clear consent means the scene has more potential to be more authentic. I feel safe and confident in what I desire, which means my scene partner can feel the same way.

4. Creating a container with trust and connection.

In a BDSM scene, I absolutely have to trust the connection with my scene partner. I need to trust that they will listen to me, calibrate to me, and check in with me. If we are engaging in an edgy role play or intense sensation play, I want to know that my partner will be attuned to me. It goes both ways. If I am dominant, I always pay attention to body language. I want my partner to trust that I will be there, present, and not break connection at any given moment.

The same works for parenting. When my son knows I’m connected to him and listening, sticky situations become easier. It could be the toy in the store that he wants. Many times I have sat down in aisles and contemplated the virtues of a Transformer. I’ve asked questions about why he likes something, understood the substantive coolness of the toy, and truly listened. Even when the answer is a “no” to buying it, he has felt that I’ve really listened and that makes a world of difference.

The same goes for confessing risky behavior. Once, my son confessed that he had peed into the sand and was playing with the result. As he cautiously divulged his tale, he observed my face. Because my response was so supportive, he began to disclose other secrets. This is key.

I want him to share with me—especially when he’s afraid of how I might respond. When the container is safe, he is able to surrender into it and ultimately feel more seen and supported.

The world of BDSM is a wide one with many possibilities for connection and play. Parenthood is also vast. Why not take the best of what I’ve learned from one world and apply it to another?

After all, if it creates stronger connection and a more diverse playground, we all win.
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Author: Paget Norton
Image: Wikimedia Commons / 1 / 2 / 3
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Travis May

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About Paget Norton

Paget Norton is a working mother of a six year old spark of a son. She enjoys reflecting on this multi-layered complexity we call “parenting” in her blog and on Facebook.

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