Do spoiled children grow up to be bad sex partners?

Is it possible that bad parenting could lead to bad sex? Could spoiled and selfish kids grow up to be spoiled and selfish bed partners? A recent article and book review in The New Yorker, “Why are American kids so spoiled?,” got us thinking along these lines.

The basic question that journalist Elizabeth Kolbert wants to answer is, How did children become the miniature bosses of the household, doing nothing and expecting everything — even past college age? Kolbert talks about “a generation of kids who can’t, or at least won’t, tie their own shoes,” and how this has given rise to a new genre of parenting books: The Price of Privilege, The Narcissism Epidemic, etc. The latest title in this field is Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest. Author Sally Koslow writes, “Our offspring have simply leveraged our braggadocio, good intentions, and over investment. … [They inhabit] a broad savannah of entitlement that we’ve watered, landscaped, and hired gardeners to maintain.” Her advice? “The best way for a lot of us to show our love would be to learn to un-mother and un-father.”

For the record, neither Kolbert nor Koslow talk about what kind of adult sex partners these children — or overgrown children — turn out to be. But we can’t stop thinking about it. That guy who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars of his parents’ money to get a college degree, then returns home to his childhood bedroom so he can sit on his parents’ couch and drink their beer… how much do you want to bet he’s not exactly the first to offer cunnilingus? And the woman who calls her mom three times a day to discuss her plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner… how could she possibly be her own sexual agent? Would she need to call her mom to ask her where her happy place is? And will the man or woman who were never allowed to get bored or frustrated as children have enough inner resolve to track down the sometimes elusive female orgasm?

Sure, we know there’s a lot else to blame for why the newest generation of adults might be having bad sex: too much early access to online porn; not enough sex education; the over-sexualization of young girls; the pressure to have a booty call; impossible body image standards; the mainstreaming of celebrity sex tapes, etc., etc., etc. But we think that over-attentive, over-indulgent parenting might be part of the equation, too. Think of that the next time your tie your fifth-grader’s shoelaces…