Pornography is everywhere. Most people reading this article have a little device in their pocket right now that can download porn. It’s in our homes, schools and work places. For the most part it’s free. Pornography is as addictive as methamphetamine, and equally destructive. Yet because of the conveniences of technology we allow the possibility of it into our homes. Due to its affordability and accessibility we must change the way that we address the issue of healthy sexuality and pornography with our children.
Eleven years old is the average age of exposure to pornography. At 11 years old children have sexual feelings. Porn is exciting and enticing to a child, yet also shameful and confusing. What’s a child to do who stumbles onto pornography and has been taught that it’s so wrong, but experiences something so good? The last thing they want to do is talk to someone about it. It is critical that they can process and talk openly about their experience with someone safe and healthy. Monsters are much scarier in the dark. The longer the shame and secrecy persist the more damaging it will be. As parents it is our job to create an open loving environment where our children can bring such things to light.
It all starts with education. When we live in a state of ignorant bliss it’s dangerous for our children. If our children were going to get attacked by a hungry grizzly bear what would we do? We wouldn’t talk ourselves into the bear being much smaller than it actually is. Or pretend it’s not even there. We would fight with everything that we had to understand how to defeat that bear and protect our children. We must equip ourselves with the weapons to fight. This is done through education about pornography, addiction, and co-dependency. There are a growing number of resources including books, helpful websites, support groups, and professionals that are full of helpful information about the topic. Once we educate ourselves it’s much easier to address the problem and talk openly with confidence.
Open, honest, straight forward and ongoing dialogue about pornography and sex is essential. The “talk” that parents use to have with their children about sex is far inadequate to protect children in the current environment which we live. If we aren’t actively teaching and talking about pornography then a computer, magazine, or smart-phone probably is. Set aside some time regularly to discuss temptations, risky situations, and yes even mistakes or slips that they have made. Align yourself with them. Let them know that you are on their team fighting with them. Be curious not condescending. Be firm on your stance against it but open and loving in your response about fighting it. Ask them how they dealt with it? What have they learned? What support do they need? We can make our discussions age-appropriate but still communicate principles of support, openness, love and accountability.
We often hear about the importance of emergency preparedness and food storage. We are preparing ourselves for a disaster so that we can survive. Do the same thing with pornography. Exposure for the most part is imminent. It will happen. We must be prepared and proactive in teaching our children how to cope. A plan needs to be set in place. Who should they tell? What should they tell? What should they do in that situation? How can they remove themselves? Why is being honest about it so important? These questions need to be answered beforehand. Making a plan for pornography exposure is like that sack of wheat sitting in our cellar. We don’t know when we’ll use it but when needed it is invaluable.
Our homes need to be a safe haven. We need to remove temptations the best that we can and create an atmosphere where the spirit can dwell. Explicit movies, magazines, and books should not be in our homes. Filters on internet and an understanding of media use on i-pads and smart phones are important. Set rules and guidelines about where media can be used in the house and when. We should also do regular checking of histories and sites that have been visited. Use technology to fight, there are more and more applications and software that assist parents in safeguarding children. If we are going to allow the media outlets into our home then it is our responsibility that we do it safely. We need to do the best that we can to ensure safety where our children need it the most.
Lastly, we must get healthy ourselves in order to protect our children. Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become addicts themselves. Also, children of addicted parents exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety more than do children from non-addicted families. Taking care of our own problems and making sure that we are not struggling with addiction and/or co-dependency is taking care of our children. Our healthy sexuality is in large part theirs. We must be willing to break destructive patterns that have been handed down to us so that our children don’t inherit them. Once we are healthy ourselves then we can be the example and leader that they need.
The game has changed. One “talk” about sex with our children is like fighting Goliath with a water gun. We need to get equipped with the best weapons and tools to fight alongside our children. Education, open dialogue, prevention, a safe environment, and our own healthy behaviors are the tools that we can use to ultimately prevail and protect our children from pornography.