How To Talk To Your Kids About Porn

Jess and Brandon talk about celebrity relationships (again!). Then Nadine Thornhill joins them to share practical advice on how to talk to your kids about sex, porn and body image.

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Jess received a related question from a fellow listener. Here is her advice…

My ex wife tells me that she caught our teenage son watching porn. She was mortified and wants me to talk to him about it. Where do I even begin?

If you don’t talk to your kids about porn, Google, YouTube, SnapChat and their friends will. Oftentimes, they’re not looking for porn, but they stumble across it or their friends present it to them, so it’s essential to have conversations before they encounter this type of material.

If you feel uncomfortable talking to them about porn or sex, in general, use this discomfort to open the conversation. Admit that it makes you nervous so that they learn from your ability to acknowledge vulnerable emotions. They’ll also learn that it’s important to have uncomfortable conversations.

I suggest that you start by asking them if they have any questions and reminding them that it’s normal to be curious. Even if you don’t want them to watch porn, you don’t want to intensify any shame they may already feel around sex. You can let them know that porn isn’t intended for folks their age and remind them that what they see in porn isn’t what sex looks like in real life. Young people tend to learn about sex from porn because they don’t have access to other resources. And adults do the same. Offer a reminder that what they see in porn includes acting, special effects, editing, and sexual olympians. Just as they don’t learn about relationships from Jersey Shore and they don’t learn to drive watching Fast and the Furious, porn is not designed as a form of education. It can be entertaining and titillating, but it’s not produced with education in mind.

Since you’re their parent, you can share your personal values related to porn and remember that your experience may not be their experience.

Finally, consider offering them other resources they can turn to if they’re curious about sex. My colleague Nadine Thornhill talks about curating sexuality resources for your kids so that they don’t have to curate their own. Whether you send them to a site like Scarleteen for sex and relationship education or you direct them to erotica sites that reflect a greater diversity of bodies and more realistic interactions, it’s up to you. Regardless of your comfort level with this topic, remember that your child will inevitably seek out resources, so it’s up to you whether or not you want to be a part of the process.

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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