Q: Is there a video or other resource available to give age-appropriate information to children who have been prematurely exposed to it and why it is not a good thing to view porn?

There is. I have written a book about that same subject and it is in the process of finding a publisher. I also have an online webinar that I am preparing. Meanwhile, I will share with you the main three points I advise parents to keep in mind in such situations:

  1. Breathe

If your child has seen adult content, the first thing to do is BREATHE. Stay calm. Don’t do more harm by freaking out. Think of it this way: Just like when your toddler falls, it is best to stay cool. A toddler sometimes seeks out their parent to gauge how severe the fall was; they can register it from the look on your face or the pitch of your voice. You take it seriously, and by staying calm, your child is assured that you can handle the situation.

Now is not the time to go into questions like “who showed you this” and “why did you do this” or “what were you thinking”. This will not help the child process what happened. You can deal with these questions later if you then still believe that it is important. Also, do not get hyper and have your voice go to the range that only dogs can hear. That is confusing and not helpful.

  1. Ask

Ask your child what they felt and thought. Most likely your child was grossed out by what they saw. You can start by validating that – lots of the porn or adult content that is available is strange even to adults. Imagine if you are seeing it for the first time!

If you do not know where to start, then the easiest thing to do is to ask your child what they already know. Often this includes some misconceptions you can simply correct (like “the man pees inside the woman”).

You can also ask what they were looking for – sometimes children stumble on it unknowingly, other times they know exactly what they want to see. Maybe your child knows about sex already. Maybe they are older and are already starting to think about sex. Maybe they are considering to have sex for the first time. Asking allows you to respond at your child’s maturity level.

  1. Share

It is crucial to communicate to your children of any age that searching the web (specifically searching for porn content) is NOT the best idea when looking for sex education. Porn is terrible sex education; it is not even real sex! Just like a romantic comedy, porn is someone else’s fantasy put on film. It is created for adults and does not portray sex in a realistic way.

Another important item is to share that “there are things you can’t unsee.” You can relate to something they were scared or affected by and ask them if they wished they hadn’t been exposed to it in the first place (for me it was the movie “Alien”).

Also, you can share that viewing porn is not good when you are not ready for it. A child does not know how to process it, especially when no one around will talk about sexuality. I’ve heard people use the excuse that generally telling kids about sex “breaches the firewall of innocence.” I argue that NOT telling a child about sex keeps them ignorant about a very basic human behavior, and this will lead to much confusion for the kid growing up and being exposed to other sexual behavior, imagery and concepts. There is a big difference between acknowledging and encouraging; I am only suggesting that you acknowledge sexuality.

Make sure to follow up with real information about what sex is. Most parents look for age-appropriate information; the fact is all children are different. Even within the family, siblings can be vastly different in mental, emotional, and intellectual readiness for information about sexuality. Unless one knows your family history and background, relating specifics is tough. Information from books or sites will give a range of ages because there can be huge variance (e.g., first menstruation can be between ages 9 and 16 with an average of 12). I offer private coaching for parents to help relearn or reframe the information about sexuality that is useful and pertinent for your specific child.

A Final Word

Let me finish this post with a remark about the word “exposed”. There are worse things that kids are exposed to and some of these we do not think twice. Violence in cartoons for children comes to mind (e.g. Bugs Bunny and Road Runner). What does the depiction of violence do to our children long term, where characters repeatedly harm each other but suffer no real consequences? As a society we do not think about that very much. Yet, when it comes to sex and nudity we are petrified of perceived long-term consequences. Which one are you more likely to be exposed to again and again? Violence is more damaging in my mind than viewing (most) sex acts.

 

Some of the adult content that is out there is scary and confusing and bizarre. The important point is to make porn viewing as much of a non-event as possible but also, enough of a lesson that children learn not to do it again. My bottom line is it is not the porn viewing that is ultimately so damaging – it is the reaction of the adults that can be problematic.

If you want more information about private coaching, webinars, or my book when it becomes available, contact me at mamasutra@me.com

Xxoo

The MamaSutra

© 2016 The MamaSutra

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