How to Talk to Your Teen About Pornography
Facebook, MySpace even Twitter has made technology the number one tool for reconnecting with old friends.Last year I was delighted to see a familiar face, Brian, from high school on MySpace, even better his profile had pictures and updates to close the gap on the years since high school. My excited search to answer the "how many kids, where does he work, did he gain weight?" questions came to a halt when I seen Brian was using his MySpace as a voice for his cause, and as a mother of teen boys that cause stopped me in my tracks.
"At the age of 13 I was looking for some fireworks that I knew my father kept in a gun case. I knew where the keys were and was getting into the fireworks when I found videotape, I was not sure what it was and so I played it in the VCR. The nest images I saw would forever stay in my head and completely change my life.This was my first encounter with pornography and unfortunately not my last.It was here that I learned about masturbation, how to be with a women and how they wanted to be treated. This was my sex education and more.This led me to how I would treat my girlfriends in high school; like toys, sexual figures not caring about their emotional or physical condition. To me they were for sex and that was all I had in mind. In high school the guys that I hung out with also looked at pornography and would talk about it like it was the cool thing to do. This only put more fuel to my fire and desire to look at it more and more. It seemed to me that this is what everyone did, it was normal."
We have been through the "talk" with our sons and they have received the school's health curriculum.I feel confident they understand the how and even the why of the birds and the bees.We have covered health risk, emotional involvement, commitment and how sex fits into our spiritual beliefs, but we never mentioned the "P" word, pornography.
Now what? I feel like I missed an important portion of the sex talk by not including pornography and the paths it leads to.After reading more of Brian's story my concern grew as the dark paths to which pornography lead Brian were revealed.
"We had our first child; it was after this that I started to look at large excessive amounts of pornography. Spending many hours late into the evening I would search the Internet for pornography for several hours at a time. When the free sites did not satisfy me any longer I started to go to the sites that required payment. It was while doing this that my wife first caught me. Looking at the phone bill there was a service for an Internet site that I had been too. She was shocked to see this on our bill and I told her that it was a mistake and that I would take care of it. This was all that happened at that time, I was so grateful that my dirty little secret was still kept. Now not only was I looking at it at home late at night, I was also looking at it at work. Rearranging my desk so that if someone came walking in that they would not see it and I could "change" the screen. At one point during this time I figured I would look at porn between 20 - 30 hours out of my 40 hour work week.Lying to my wife Darcy about having to work overtime because I was so swamped at work, the truth was I had looked at porn all day and had work to get done now."
I am so thankful people like Brian and his wife Darcy can be so open and candid about a very private battle.I was still left with the question of what to do as a parent to address the topic of pornography.I found help in some of the resources I found through Brian.
We first examined our views on pornography.My husband and I knew very little about porn, it didn't take long to be overwhelmed at how vast it is on the Internet.We also recalled our personal first experience with pornography, for me it was finding a racy magazine page discarded in the woods at our local park, I think I was eight.We also made sure we did not have any "secret stash" of porn on hand.Parents have to realize that kids watch, they listen, and they study us as an adult, as a parents. We can not take the risk of having our kids find this stuff."Do as I say not as I do" doesn't work in parenting, leading by example is the sure way to set expectations on subjects.
Next we need to engage in a conversation about pornography with our kids - oh boy, hear comes the sweaty palms and nervous tick again.I knew I needed help on this one and found a great resource in www.theporntalk.com.There you will find helpful preparation like seven conversation starters and ways to overcome your fear of talking to your kids about porn.
Pornography can be a dangerous addiction much like drugs and alcohol.Many schools, parents, and organizations use the worst case scenario approach to drugs and alcohol. Example: the recent staged drunk driving accident our community put on so teens could see the damage, emotions and repercussions drinking and driving have.This can be a useful step with pornography as well.When your kids are age appropriate sharing stories like Brian's can be useful in helping teens see the possible consequences of their choices before they make them.
Technology and growing leniency on censured programming has made pornography and sex prevalent everywhere.It can be easy to follow the path of porn to unhealthy places.Fortunately accessible help is also easier to get.www.xxxchurch.comwas crucial in getting Brian to face his addiction.Events like Porn and Pancakes are being held nationwide to raise awareness and help people suffering porn addiction. Men, women and YES Teens are all being tested daily with the temptations of porn, don't wait, pornography is not a topic to be stuffed under the bed or locked in the closet.