Young adults seeking sex advice should chat to grandparents

Let’s face it – nobody likes to think about their parents having sex. When we were kids, we didn’t understand it. As teenagers we thought sex was an exciting part of life that belonged only to us – certainly not our parents. In our 20s and 30s, we probably knew they were ‘doing it’, but we didn’t even want to think about it, much less talk about it.

By the time we get to our 50s and 60s, though, it’s us doing it that our kids and grandkids can’t bear to conceive of (pardon the pun). And yet many of us in our 50s and 60s – and beyond – are doing it, whether our progeny like it or not.

And the fact that we are doing it invites a couple of questions. First, why don’t young people like to think about older people having sex? And second, could young people actually improve their sex lives by not only imagining their parents and grandparents having sex, but actually asking them about it?

Read: Improve your sex life (and your health) with these seven exercises

The answer to the first question may never be known, although Ann Brenoff had a pretty good crack at it in the Huffington Post a few years ago.

With regard to the second question, as repulsive as the concept might seem to the proverbial ‘kids of today’, it does make sense on one level at least. After all, most of us who are parents and grandparents have been having sex for a long time – or, perhaps more accurately – have had sex many times.

With all that experience, it makes sense that many will have learnt what works and what doesn’t; what feels good and what doesn’t. Really, all those amorous youngsters should be queueing up to ask us seasoned ‘sexperts’ for tips and tricks, shouldn’t they?

Barry McCarthy certainly thinks so. The retired sex therapist is the co-author of a recently published book, Couple Sexuality After 60: Intimate, Pleasurable and Satisfying.

Says Mr McCarthy, “With age, you learn that sex has lots of roles, meanings and outcomes. It isn’t just this simplistic pass-fail test of intercourse or orgasm.”

Read: Legendary model on sex appeal in her 50s

Although the book, written in conjunction with wife Emily McCarthy, is targeted at those aged over 60, there is one particular chapter that might be of interest to young people without a partner: Sexuality for Singles: Enjoying Your Sexual Self.

The key to a good sex life, according to the McCarthys, is to recognize that sexual activity involves much more than straight intercourse. Reporting in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein sought the opinions of sexually active people older than 60, and found that the addition of activities such as reading erotic literature together enhanced sexual pleasure, as did spontaneity (for example, jumping into a shower with a partner unannounced).

Humour, too, was found to assist, with one couple in their 70s getting a good laugh when a hearing aid blared “battery low!” during their first sexual encounter.

Read: Confidence is sexy. How to feel both after 60

Whether young lovers trying to find their way in the early stages of their sexual activeness would be willing to receive ‘lessons’ such as these from their own grandparents is debatable, but it’s just possible that they could pick up a valuable tip or two from a book such as that written by the Barry and Emily McCarthy.

On the other hand, the old adage that applies to most other aspects of life might be equally applicable when it comes to learning about sex: You can’t put an old head on young shoulders.

Would you be willing to pass on sex advice to your kids or grandkids? Do you have some tips to share? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
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