Savage Love: My 12-year-old son is using toy handcuffs for self-bondage

My son has always liked handcuffs and tying people up as a form of play. He is 12 now, and the delight he finds in cuffing has not faded along with his love of Legos. He lobbied hard to be allowed to buy a hefty pair of handcuffs. We cautioned him strongly about consent — he has a younger brother — and he has been good about it. In the last year, though, I found out that he is cuffing himself while alone in the house — and when discovered, he becomes embarrassed and insists it’s a joke. I found him asleep one night with his wrists cuffed. I removed the cuffs and spoke to him the next morning about safety. Then recently, when returning home late, I saw him (through his window, from the back of the house) naked and cuffed with a leather belt around his waist, which seemed attached to the cuffs. This escalation was scarier. I haven’t spoken to him about it. My concern about the bondage stuff is that there are some risks (like escaping a fire), particularly if he gets more adventurous (restricting breathing, etc.). This is something he is doing secretly and alone. He is a smart kid, an athlete, and a fairly conscientious scholar. He has friends but sometimes feels lonely. He is going through puberty with its attendant madness — defiance, surliness, etc. — but he is also very loving and kind. He is also quite boastful, which I interpret as insecurity. I can’t help feeling that this bondage stuff is related to these issues, and I worry about self-esteem and self-loathing. We are considering getting him some help. Any advice for us?
—Completely Understandable Fears For Son

When a concern parent reaches out to an advice columnist with a question like yours, CUFFS, the columnist is supposed to call in the child psychologists. But I thought it might be more interesting — I actually thought it might be more helpful — if I shared your letter with a different class of experts : pornographic men who were tying themselves up when they were 12 years old.

“ This boy sounds a lot like how I was at his age, ” says James “ Jimmy ” Woelfel, a bondage pornography asterisk with a huge on-line following. “ I want to reassure CUFFS that the discovery of things like this, even at a young historic period, is extremely park. We may not know why we like this stuff at the time ; we precisely know we do. ”
Jimmy is correct : many adults who are into bondage, heavy or otherwise, became aware of their bondage kinks at a very early age .
“ The huge majority of BDSM practitioners report that their sexual interests developed relatively early in life, specifically before the old age of 25, ” Dr. Justin Lehmiller wrote in a holocene post on his invaluable sex and Psychology web log. “ Further, a minority of these folks ( 7–12 % across studies ) report that their interests actually developed around the time of puberty ( ages 10–12 ), which is when early traditional aspects of sexual orientation course originate ( for example, attraction based on sex/gender ). ”
While an obsession with handcuffs at historic period 6 is n’t proof a kyd is going to grow up with an erotic concern in bondage — lots of kids like to play cops and robbers — a boy who ‘s cuffing himself in the throes of puberty and doing sol in the nude and in unavowed … yea, that male child is about surely going to be into bondage when he grows up. And that male child is besides going to be embarrassed when his parents discover him in handcuffs for the exact lapp reason a boy is going to be embarrassed when his parents walk in on him masturbating — because he ‘s having a private intimate experience that he in truth does n’t want to discuss with his parents .
As for your son ‘s insecurities and loneliness, CUFFS, they may not be related to his interest in bondage at all. They ‘re more probably a reaction to the shame he feels about his kinks than to the kinks themselves. ( And are n’t most 12-year-olds, manacle obsession or no, insecure ? )
“ People do bondage for assorted reasons, ” says Trikoot, a self-described “ bondage fanatic ” and periodic crimp educator from Helsinki, Finland. “ It ‘s not always sexual, and it ‘s about never a symptom of self-loathing — and a counselor will not ‘erase ‘ a taste for bondage. Too many kinksters had young lives full of shame and obscure, alone to accept themselves years late and then discover what they ‘ve missed out on. ”
In other words, CUFFS, parents and counselors ca n’t talk a child out of his kinks any more than they can talk a child out of his intimate orientation. This thrust is hardwired. And once person accepts his kinks, whatever anxiety he feels about them finally evaporates .
All that said, however awkward it was for you and mortifying for him when you found him asleep in his handcuffs, Woelfel thinks there may be an top .
“ I was extremely embarrass when my ma caught me, ” says Woelfel. “ She did n’t know how to respond and neither did I at the time. We merely went on as if it never happened. But it was reasonably comforting to know there was n’t going to be a major backlash. It was better than living in fear. ”

now that you know what you know about your son, CUFFS, what do you do ? Well, with the burden of knowing comes the province — not just to educate and warn, but to offer your son a little hope for his future .
“ accept and guard are two of the most important universal issues in bondage, and CUFFS has wisely addressed both of them, ” says Trikoot. And you should stress both in a follow-up conversation. “ There are boundaries that should never be crossed, such as solo breath play, which regularly kills even experienced adults. But dabbling with wrist and ankle restraints while being within shouting distance of the rest of the family is not a serious base hit issue. ” ( Sleeping in handcuffs, however, is a serious base hit issue — they can twist, compress nerves, and damage the delicate bones of the wrist. He should not be sleeping in them. )
now for the catchy and super awkward and what will decidedly feel reasonably age-inappropriate function : At some point — possibly in a class or two — you need to let your son know that he has a community out there .
“ When done safely, bondage/kink can be an extremely honor experience as he grows into adulthood, ” says Jimmy. “ Some of the most important people in my life are those whom I ‘ve shared this love with. It is nothing to be ashamed of — though at his senesce, it is unfortunately inevitable. How you react can help mitigate such a reaction. ”
Oh, and stop peep in your son ‘s bedroom windowpane at night. That ‘s creepy .
Follow Jimmy Woelfel on Twitter @ for_heavy and on Instagram @ heavybondageforlife. Follow Trikoot on Twitter @ trikoot .
My 12-year-old son wants us to buy him a vibrator. Apparently he had a good experience with a hot tub jet and is looking to replicate that “good” feeling. He has tried replicating it, but is feeling very frustrated. (I always wanted an open and honest relationship with my kids so, um, yay for us?) Additional information: My son is on an SSRI. My husband feels uncomfortable buying my son a sex toy, but I find myself sympathizing with my son’s frustration. But I would be more comfortable if he were 15. We are hoping to figure it out without devices. Are we being reasonable or squeamish?
—Entirely Mortified Mom

When this issue has come up in the by — normally it ‘s about a daughter who wants a vibrator — my readers have endorsed getting the kid an Amazon endowment calling card and getting out of the means, i.e., letting them get on-line and buy themselves something and not scrutinizing the purchase once it arrives. You could go that path, EMM. Or you could make an end run around this whole offspring by installing a pulsating shower head in your bathroom or getting your son an electric toothbrush. ( besides, antidepressants — SSRIs — can make it more unmanageable for a person to climax, so you may not be able to “ figure it out without devices. ” )
On the Lovecast , are men and women equally kinky? Listen at savagelovecast.com. Questions? mail@savagelove.net Follow @fakedansavage on Twitter. Impeach the mofo already: ITMFA.org.
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