Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My kid found my porn! How to talk to children about sex and pornography, even if they've already seen it

It happens more often than any parent wants to admit. You hide something carefully, you put protections on your computer and phone, but sooner or later it is very likely that your child will stumble across something sexual that you were hoping would not happen for at least 20 more years or maybe would not happen ever.

It's not the end of the world and it doesn't mean you're a bad parent.

I'll start with prevention 
It is every parents' responsibility to make sure that they are managing their child's access to anything sexual whether that be their porn collection, online porn, chat rooms and apps that are welcome environments for sexual predators, etc. Here are some services that provide both filtering and reporting:
https://www.netnanny.com/ , https://www.webchaver.org/index.php, http://www.usanativ.com/

Now for reality -  
Just like the candy or booze that we're sure we've hidden away effectively, our children are bound to come across something we didn't expect them to see and probably always hoped they wouldn't. Just like some children would rather believe that their parents adopted them so they don't have to ever consider the likelihood that their parents ever had sex so too we sometimes wish that our children thought that for the same reason.

And here's the response to your child - 
Don't get angry. Just talk. This is a conversation. The more your children feel that they can come to you with any issue or concern they have, the better. If you get angry you might be trying to convey the message that what they did was wrong. The actual message you're conveying is that they were wrong for coming to tell you in the first place. You might be angry at yourself for not protecting your children enough but that's not your child's fault.
If your child believes you are angry because they came to you then that makes it a lot less likely they will come to you again. That's the last thing that you want.

Current research supports the idea that humans are sexual beings from mommy's tummy all the way until death so while kids won't understand a lot of what they might stumble upon, they will understand the basics of showing love and physical pleasure.
You can explain things a few ways:
1) This is how people who love each other connect and make each other feel good (if it's BDSM you might want to explain that even though it looks like he or she is in pain that person feels good like that and people are all different and feel good in different ways. If that person asked for it to be stopped then they would right away. This is a great segue in to a conversation about consent. (The organization RAINN has a great short piece on the topic here.)

2) Just like you have to be a certain age to be the president, to drive, and to to drink alcohol, you have to be older to be able to watch this or do these activities. It doesn't mean they are bad but it does mean that you are often able to make better choices about these things when you are older.

3) How did it feel for you to see/hear those things? What did you think?

4) If you ever have any thoughts or questions you can ask me. I know it might feel a bit uncomfortable but as your parent I am a big expert and I will teach you and help you figure your feelings out.

You can use a mixture of all of these things. The buzz themes are: make a safe place for your child; you don't have to teach your child any more than he or she needs to know but also try not to leave holes too big that your child will be tempted to seek out a less reputable source like friends to get more info; be real and genuine; encourage your child to speak freely about his or her feelings about what was discovered; and know this: the bigger deal you make out of this by getting upset/excited/spazzy the bigger deal your child will make out of it.

For further info or questions contact me. www.arihoffmantherapy.com