My Kids Don’t Watch Porn – Here Are My Proven Tips

Posted in   Dr. Lanae   on  July 26, 2019 by  Lanae minutes remaining
First published on the website for Edward Shorter, PhD as a guest post on July 23rd.


I recently published a book that helps parents find easy and effective ways to talk to their kids about sex. It’s called Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk.”

Among other things, the book covers the subject of porn and what is essential for parents to think about in their approach. Talking to your kids about sex is more involved than activating parental blocks on all your digital devices. That technique only works to a point — they aren’t much of a hindrance for a kid who really wants to get around them.

My book takes a unique position: It’s not a “porn crisis” that’s happening in our culture, but a lack of informed and accurate sex/uality education. I give parents information, motivation, and skills so they can help their kids avoid unhealthy situations for their future sexual health. Getting ahead of the problem is best and even better when the kids are young.

For years, I’ve practiced what I preach in my book, but I realized I hadn’t checked back in with my kids as to why they don’t look at porn. Had my methods really been that effective? To figure it out, I sat down with each of them separately.

My two girls are 15 and 17. I started with a clarifying question but not as if in an inquisition. Casually, I asked, “Do you watch porn?” Both girls responded, “No.” (Given our open, communicative relationship, I have no reason to believe they’d lie to me about this.) So I asked, “Why not?” Their responses were almost exact copies of what I’ve said to them since they were 7 and 9 years old:

  • It’s not realistic.
  • It’s just someone’s fantasy.
  • A lot of it is exaggerated.
  • It’s highly edited, and we don’t get to see the outtakes. For example, an erection doesn’t always last that long.

These points I had been spouting for years had stuck with them! When I dug for deeper answers, my daughters told me that they already come to me with questions about sex. They know they can easily get the right info and get the correct answer. So I also asked a hypothetical question: if they couldn’t ask me but had questions, where would they go? “The internet.” There it is. Naturally. Adults do the same thing.

Let me clarify here: it’s not just cisgender, heterosexual boys watching porn. Other kids watch porn, too. An eleventh-grade girl confided in Peggy Orenstein in her book, “Girls and Sex,” saying, “I watch porn because I’m a virgin and I want to figure out how sex works.” Kids are watching porn to learn something much like we do when we go to YouTube or Google to learn something new ourselves. A 2014 study by the National Union of Students in the UK found that 60% of students watched porn because they were curious and wanted to find out more about sex. Starting the conversation with your kids about porn and what it means is tougher with older teens. But it is worth it in the long run to give them knowledge and context that porn isn’t “real.”

Back when I began the conversation with my daughters, I explained that there are things you can’t “unsee,” and proceeded to give non-sex related examples. I’m sure you can think of things you’ve seen that you wish you hadn’t. If something disturbing pops into your mind, recognize that’s exactly the point — to shock and disturb you. Seeing some adult clip like “Two Girls, One Cup” as your introduction into the genre could be really upsetting and confusing, not to mention disgusting. Explaining this to kids gives them valuable information about their ability to choose what they may or may not want to see.

Some other important points. Be open to talk about this topic. If kids have questions about sex that they can get real, honest answers to, then they are less likely to try to get the answer from Google. You don’t have to know the answer right away. But you do have to 1) be willing to admit you need to check the answer, 2) get the correct info from a trusted and reliable source, and 3) circle back to your kid with the answer. Make sure to complete those steps.

Highlight key points, like how porn is not a place to learn intimacy. Kids need to know that, for sure. What is intimacy? To me, it’s that closeness, liking, sharing, and spending time with another person (or persons); it’s not the sexual acts. None of those things are typically depicted in porn. I dare say, they never are. As your kids grow, it’s important they are able to tell the distinction between intimacy and sexual acts.

For parents of teens, there’s a new aspect around porn I’ve added to the conversation with my teenage daughters: teens who use porn as their sole source of sex ed will not impress (and as my oldest daughter added, “nor satisfy,” ouch) their future partners. It certainly doesn’t impress nor satisfy some of the adult women I’ve spoken to who are actively dating. Cindy Gallop created the website: “Make Love Not Porn” after realizing a need to reeducate and rehabilitate young people who watch porn.

I’ve put my kids through lots of sex ed—both with me at home and also through the Our Whole Lives Program, which is a substantial and thorough series run by the Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s more than I got as a kid, for sure. Probably more than most of us received. But having this knowledge hasn’t made my teens more willing to take risks.

For parents who worry that giving sex/uality information to a child will make them want to “do it,” contemplate this quote from my daughter when she was 11 years-old: “If you teach me about the center of the earth, it doesn’t mean I’m gonna try to go down there.”

Porn brings up a lot of strong opinions and feelings for many adults. It’s tough to put all of that aside to relay real information to your children. That real info combined with your own values and beliefs can help kids make good decisions.

Perhaps the most important factor is making sure your kids are aware they can have an open dialogue about sex, porn, and sex ed with you, free from the baggage you got from your parents and elders. It may mean you need to unlearn some of your own thoughts around porn to shift the conversation to one with respect and compassion for ourselves and our kids.

Xxoo,

Lanae

About the Author Lanae

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

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