You Really Need To Talk To Your Kid About Porn

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You Really Need To Talk To Your Kid About Porn

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When we were kids (insert croaky old-person voice here), porn was a much more elusive thing. Sure, the nudie mags were on every newsstand, but they were high up at an adult eye-level and mostly covered by a black barrier. There were channels on TV, but we didn’t dare face our parents’ outrage when they saw the obvious pay-per-view charge on the cable bill.

So unless we discovered our older brother’s stash of Hustlers while snooping under his mattress, or innocently popped in an improperly labeled VHS tape (“This isn’t Ren & Stimpy!”), we were mostly shielded from it. It existed, sure, but it wasn’t easily as readily available or as easily accessible.

These days, anyone who can get their hands on an electronic device has a virtual smorgasbord of porn right at their fingertips. And as much as we’d like to think “anyone” doesn’t include our own innocent children (BECAUSE THEY’RE ANGELS, THAT’S WHY), we’ve gotta be real. The truth is, kids — all of them, even yours, even mine — are curious about sex. And that’s a good thing — really! It’s completely natural. Much like armpit funk and a too-grown attitude, sexual curiosity is a normal, necessary part of development.

We may hate it, but that doesn’t mean it ain’t happening. So guess what: We need to talk to our kids about porn, and we need to do it early because an 8-year-old is fully able to type “boobs” into the Google search bar, opening a window to the skeeviest underbelly of the Internet. And a middle-schooler probably has friends who are already texting naked pics.

I know — trust me. The mere thought of talking to our kids about porn is about as uncomfortable as literally sitting them down for a showing of Booty-Banging Bonanza because nobody wants to think of their precious babies as sexual beings. But they are, and this is the reality of the world we live in, and burying our heads in the proverbial sand doesn’t do them any good. It’s a necessary conversation, even if it’s peppered with “eh” and “um” and lots of throat-clearing.

So how do we go about approaching this subject? With…

Timing

There’s never a time when we’re going to want to start this conversation, so we’ve got to gather up some inner strength and just do it. I don’t mean we should ambush them directly after school one day and be like, “Yo! Let’s talk about seeing tits and ass!” — that’s probably not the best way to open up a meaningful dialogue. But we can keep our eyes peeled for opportunities to steer the normal conversation toward the subject.

Honesty

Nobody is going to be comfortable during the discussion. Not them, and certainly not us. But if we’re candid about acknowledging our discomfort, it brings the mortification down at least a couple of notches. We can just admit that this isn’t going to be the easiest conversation we’ve ever had, but let them know it’s too important to ignore.

Reassurance

Speaking of importance: We need to be clear with them that being interested in sex is not a shameful thing, and that everybody is, and we’re not going to judge them. It’s not wrong, and they shouldn’t be worried that we’re going to be angry or disappointed in them for being curious or for wanting to explore their own sexuality.

Purpose

We need to convey exactly why we’re having this conversation in the first place; it’s not like we were just anxious to chat with our children about people having sexual intercourse on camera. If all porn featured regular, consensual sex, respectful to both parties involved, it might be a different story — but it doesn’t. We have to let our kids know that a lot of porn can be misogynistic, chauvinistic, and just plain degrading, and that isn’t how actual sex should work.

They may be looking to porn to learn about sex and intimacy, but what they’re learning could be misleading or confusing, and we don’t want them to internalize negative information.

It’s also important to mention that sending and receiving nude photos to their peers — or anyone, for that matter, especially someone they only “know” online — is a type of porn, something that they can actually get in trouble for. Not just grounded, but legit legal repercussions. Plus, once those photos leave their hands, they could easily get into anyone else’s: the rest of their squad, someone’s mom, the entire internet. We should stress that they should never let anyone pressure them into doing something that could have such serious consequences, and if someone is trying to, it’s okay to tell us — or at least another adult they trust.

Disclosure

We can wrap up the convo with one last dose of honesty: We’re gonna be checking up on their online activity, phone and computer both. It’s just what responsible parents do. When they’re all grown up and pay their own internet bill, they can spend all day spanking it to whatever kind of porn they want to, but while they’re still in our care, they’re subject to our rules. It isn’t because we don’t trust them; it’s because we’re trying to keep them safe. We’re vigilant because we want to protect them, and if they need to use that as an excuse for why they don’t send or receive, say, dick pics, they can feel free to grumble to their friends about how their parents are stupid and strict.

Blame us all you want, kids, just don’t hit the “send” button unless it’s a picture of your fully clothed self.

Porn isn’t evil, but it’s inappropriate for our kids who are vulnerable to receiving the wrong messages about sex and to opening themselves up to online predators, or at the very least, bad decisions. And unfortunately, it’s a subject that sex education in school barely scratches the surface of — if it scratches the surface at all. So it’s up to us, parents. The sooner we talk to them about it, and the more honest (and less judgy) we can be, the better.

… Now go erase your browser history. You wouldn’t want them to stumble upon Booty-Banging Bonanza.