Avoiding conversations about pornography is no longer a luxury parents can afford. Pornography can be an intimidating topic, though, so the Mormon Channel released a presentation about talking to kids about pornography. Although the video is produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and includes religious themes, the panel, including a sex addiction therapist, gives advice that can be implemented by families of any religious affiliation or none at all.
*Remember that pornography is bad, but your kids are not
*Take a deep breath
*Prepare: exposure to pornography is a matter of if, not when
*Get curious: curiosity will help you ask questions from an open mind
*Learn to get comfortable: if kids sense your discomfort, they will be hesitant to share.
*Remember your kids badly want to please you
*Normalize: sexual feelings are natural and good, but pornography is not
*Hug them! More than ever, children need to feel your love when discussing pornography
*Don’t overreact if your child shares an experience with pornography. Stay calm so the dialogue remains open.
*Don’t shame your child. Remember that pornography is specifically designed to target their natural curiosity and sexuality. Older and wiser people have been taken in!
*Don’t react with anger or shock– be ready. Assume your child will be exposed to pornography, and prepare accordingly. This will allow you to be a safe place for your child and parent from a place of love, not fear.
*Don’t assume addiction. Many people interact with pornography without meeting the technical definition of an addiction. Meeting with a therapist will provide insight and tools for moving forward.
*If your family is religious, pray together
*Examine what happened and why. Teach your child to recognize triggers. When I want to look at pornography, what am I doing? Who am I with? How do I feel?
*Involve children in setting boundaries and consequences
*Decide on a trusted adult (other than parents) that your child can go to for help. Children may not always feel comfortable discussing pornography with parents, but they need the support of a wise adult who will give advice in line with your values.
*Remember your goal is to train your child to be a functional adult. As you work with your child, encourage independence, autonomy, and personal accountability
*Consider consulting a counselor and a religious leader (if applicable)
*Discuss consequences. Make sure your children know the consequences of engaging with pornography, including loss of self-esteem, struggles in future romantic relationships (particularly marriage), loss of self-mastery, changes in brain structure similar to drug addiction.
The video is a bit lengthy (just under thirty minutes), but well worth the time! You can watch “How to Talk to your Kids About Pornography” by clicking here.
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