There are so many things parents need to protect their children from. Pornography is one of them. But how do you talk to kids about pornography?
How to Talk to Kids About Pornography
During the course of being parents, we face uncomfortable conversations with our children. Talking to your kids about a serious subject, like pornography, is never easy. As uncomfortable as this may be, it is one of the most important topics you need to talk about.
Here are some things to help when you talk to kids about pornography.
Teach Healthy Sexuality
Have age appropriate discussions, as a family, about touching and personal boundaries. Always use the proper language for body parts. Tell your kids about the feelings that will come with sexual touch. Try to let these discussions happen naturally and in all different environments. Avoid only talking about sexuality when you have to explain something they have seen or heard. This could make your child feel like they cannot ask you questions anytime.
When you talk to kids about pornography, teach them that it is a lie. The actions and behaviors that you see happen in pornography are not an accurate representation of normal and loving sexual acts. Teach your children about the reality of a sexual relationship.
Be a Safe Person to Talk to
If your child admits to viewing pornography do not place blame or judgment on them. Coming to you is a sign of trust and vulnerability.
It is ok to admit that this can be a difficult and awkward conversation. Use this opportunity to ask them what they think healthy and unhealthy portrayals of sex are. You can use TV, movies and even video games as examples. Be sure to tell them what abuse looks like in a sexual relationship.
When you talk to kids about pornography discuss the concept of consent and boundaries, even with someone that is your intimate partner. Assure your child that their interest in sex is completely normal. They need to know they are not alone in being curious about it.
Talk about the emotions that are involved in sexual relationships. Pornography does not make room for emotion, but in reality, there are very strong feelings attached to sex.
Children need to know what pornography is. I did not understand that the magazines I looked at with my friend in 2nd grade were pornography until much later in life.
Define what pornography is. Pornography is “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.”
Open the conversation about why people view pornography, why is it appealing? Online pornography is often a portrayal of sexual violence against women. Educate your children that this is never ok. If possible, talk to kids about pornography before they stumble upon it.
The average age a child first views pornography is 11 years old. Try having the conversation before this happens.
Children as young as 8 years old can have short and age-appropriate conversations about sex. Start talking about sex early and often. This can be done in comfortable situations and naturally when the chance comes up.
If you see something questionable on TV or in a movie, take the time to talk about it and use this educational opportunity.
Helping your children know what to do when they see pornography will empower them. If you do not give them these tools they will freeze and not know what to do.
Talk about what they might see and the feelings that will accompany it. Giving them tangible ways to get out of the situation will be important. Click out of it immediately. Walk away from the person trying to show you. Call me right away to come and get you if you need me.
You will also need to discuss feelings of shame and guilt that may arise. Also, the feeling that they want to see more. They need to know this is the goal of pornography, to leave you wanting more.
Create a safe relationship where they can come to you when they see pornography and make it comfortable to ask questions about it.
Finding Out Your Child Has Been Exposed to Pornography
What if you catch your child, or they come to you in admission, of viewing pornography?
First, it is very important to keep your emotions in check. You will be shocked, scared and upset. Keep those emotions under control until you are alone to process them.
Normalize the situation.
You can reduce shame without condoning the act. Let them know it is normal to be curious. Do not fall into the sex and shame trap. This is what pornography is all about.
Encourage healthy ideas about what a sexual relationship should look like. Tell them about the effects of long-term pornography usage and how it will damage future relationships.
This is the time to talk openly about sexual response and the false portrayal of it in pornography. Use correct terminology. If you need to address masturbation, now is the time for it.
Open the discussion to questions and be sure to answer all questions asked. This is not a time to be shy. It can be awkward and uncomfortable. But this also lets your child know they can talk to you about anything.
Allowing open and honest conversations about sex and pornography will only help your child. When you talk to kids about pornography know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you. This video is a good one to get the conversation started.
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Bridget is on of our interns currently finishing up a degree in Marriage and Family Studies. With 8 children and 1 grandchild, she strives to keep her family happy and healthy. She loves to read and if there is an opportunity for it, you will find her at the beach!