How did your childhood affect your sexuality?
September 22nd, 2011
07:20 AM ET

How did your childhood affect your sexuality?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

To create and sustain healthy intimate relationships, we often need to go back to the original building blocks of our sexual socialization and see how our patterns of sexual behavior took shape.

We need to look at how we were modeled - or, in other words, what we learned and internalized about sex and relationships throughout our childhood and adolescence, and how those experiences affected the ways we “mate and relate” today. I often ask people to think about the following statements and whether they are true or false:

1. From what I know and remember of my earliest childhood years, physical affection was a regular source of comfort and love. (For example, do you remember your mother or father tucking you in with a kiss at night? Do you have early memories of being picked up and hugged by one or both parents?)

2. My parents had different approaches to providing affection to my siblings and me. (For instance, in many cases, fathers are more comfortable rough-housing with boys than with girls.)

3. Growing up, my parents were always affectionate with each other. (Do you remember your parents hugging or kissing? Did they seem physically comfortable and connected? Or were they cold and distant?)

4. My parents employed physical means of discipline. (Did your parents ever reprimand you with a hand or belt? Was the method routine? Was it specific to only one parent? Was physicality something you associated more with punishment than affection in your childhood?)

5. As I grew older, my parents were less comfortable showing affection. (Were your parents more standoffish as you matured through puberty and adolescence? Were you aware of any differences in how your mother and father physically interacted with you?)

Whether these statements are “true” or “false” for you can offer valuable insight into your current views of sexuality. In her book "Sex Smart," Dr. Aline Zoldbrod examines how childhood shapes one’s adult sexual life, and she divides home environments into the seven following types based on how sexual topics are handled. Can you identify your own childhood environment with any of these broad types?*

1. The ideal environment. In this happy home, sexual curiosity is encouraged, questions about sex are answered with age-appropriate information and privacy and independence are respected and actively cultivated.

2. The predominantly nurturing environment. This environment is similar to the ideal environment, albeit with some glaring gaps. For instance, a parent or sibling suffers from intermittent periods of depression or illness, or a divorce and remarriage cause a break in the seamless functioning of the ideal environment.

3. The evasive environment. In this scenario, parents generally avoid the subject of sex and foster an environment where asking about sexual matters is uncomfortable. This is often consistent with a family where the parents are not openly affectionate with each other, even if they are affectionate to their children.

4. The permissive environment. At the other end of the spectrum is the home where sex is discussed too openly, with parents providing too much information too soon. In such a home, parents generally share intimate information with their children about their own sex lives and actively encourage their children to experiment sexually at too young an age to appreciate the emotional and psychological consequences.

5. The negative environment. In such a home, nonmarital sex is not merely avoided but treated as immoral, providing a fertile nesting ground for homophobia, misogyny and sexual problems in later life, including fear of masturbation, inability to achieve orgasm in women and premature ejaculation in men.

6. The seductive environment. In this scenario, relationships between parents and children or siblings are not overtly sexual, but are tinged with an inappropriate level of sexuality, including the routine discussion of age-inappropriate sexual matters.

7. The overtly sexual environment (or what I would term the abusive environment). This home is characterized by inappropriate sexual contact between a parent and child. Just to be absolutely clear, this inappropriate contact does constitute sexual abuse, even if the child often doesn’t recognize it as such or blocks it out. Whether the abuse happens just once or occurs over an extended period of time or is inflicted by a member of the immediate family or extended family of friends and relatives, growing up in an overtly sexual home can inflict long-term damage that impedes the ability to engage in healthy adult sexual relationships. From fear of intimacy to anger to lack of desire to promiscuity, overcoming the legacy of growing up in an overtly sexual environment requires time, work and professional counseling.

We can’t change where we came from, but we can affect the environment we create for our kids. As the Beatles wrote, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

* Zoldbrod bases her typology on previous work published by Bolton, F., L. Morris, and A. MacEachron. "Males at Risk: The Other Side of Child Sexual Abuse."

soundoff (1,985 Responses)
  1. Maserati Of Arlington

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the information!


    May 15, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Maserati Suv Price 2017


    May 15, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 2005 Maserati Levante For Sale Near Me

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for supplying these details.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. avanafil

    avana drug avana 200 mg

    May 15, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. homes for sale bayview


    May 15, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Maserati Ghibli Forums


    May 15, 2021 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Maserati Ghibli 2015

    Excellent blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 15, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 먹튀검증업체

    Hello! I just wish to give you a huge thumbs up for the great information you've got here on this post. I will be returning to your website for more soon.


    May 15, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Maserati Price 2020

    I love it whenever people come together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!


    May 15, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. brimonidine

    combigan side effects buy generic combigan

    May 15, 2021 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Digital Marketing Events


    May 15, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. avana

    avanafil dose avanafil

    May 15, 2021 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 토토사이트

    I blog quite often and I really thank you for your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 15, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Internet Marketing Events


    May 16, 2021 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Google Marketing Specialists


    May 16, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Google Marketing Specialist


    May 16, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Social Media Marketing Help Near Me

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…


    May 16, 2021 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. brimonidine

    combigan generic prices brimonidine tartrate 2%

    May 16, 2021 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Social Media Marketing Reviews


    May 16, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Best Tucker Sprinter Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 먹튀검증

    Hi there! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for your great info you've got here on this post. I am returning to your website for more soon.


    May 16, 2021 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv remodel companies

    Good web site you have here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 16, 2021 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mercedes Sprinter Van 2015 3500 Repair

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that will make the most important changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 16, 2021 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 토토

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now 😉


    May 16, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 토토사이트

    I love reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


    May 16, 2021 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Maserati Rent

    After exploring a number of the blog posts on your web site, I truly like your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site too and let me know what you think.


    May 16, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. avanafil

    avanafil vs cialis avana 50 mg

    May 16, 2021 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mercedes Sprinter Start Error Fault Repair

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read through content from other authors and use a little something from other sites.


    May 16, 2021 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 2000 Chevy Conversion Van Body Repair Panels

    May I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody who truly understands what they're talking about on the internet. You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people should read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.


    May 16, 2021 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Chevy G20 Van Repair

    Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I'll send this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    http://radio.cancaonova.com/iframe-loader/?t=Dating Single: No Longer a Mystery – Rádio&ra=&url=https://ocrvfleetservices.com/box-truck-conversion-shop-near-me

    May 16, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 먹튀검증

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 16, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. 2003 Maserati Coupe Gt

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    May 16, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Whippin Maserati Lyrics

    I was able to find good advice from your articles.


    May 16, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Mercedes Sprinter Steering Gear Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair

    You're so cool! I don't suppose I've read a single thing like this before. So great to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


    May 17, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Repair Codes


    May 17, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Conversion Van Interior Repair

    Very good post. I will be dealing with a few of these issues as well..


    May 17, 2021 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    It’s hard to come by experienced people about this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 17, 2021 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Van Sliding Door Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Dodge Sprinter 3500 2006 Window Repair


    May 17, 2021 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. 먹튀검증

    I really like reading an article that can make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!


    May 17, 2021 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dodge Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.


    May 17, 2021 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 메이저사이트

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 17, 2021 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Repair 2005 Sprinter Ecm

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 17, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Van Meter Auto Repair

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    May 17, 2021 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Seats Orange County


    May 17, 2021 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. school bus repair near me

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 17, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Maserati Price 2020

    After I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    May 17, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 먹튀검증

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this amazing site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!


    May 17, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 토토사이트

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always useful to read articles from other authors and practice something from their sites.


    May 17, 2021 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.