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Tough Talk: How Do We Talk to Our Children About Porn?

Porn is just a click of a button away. It’s inevitable. As a parent, how do you confront it?

Updated
Parenting
3 min read
Tough  Talk: How Do We Talk to Our Children About Porn?
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(Teen Pop Star Billie Eilish recently spoke out about how exposure to porn at a young age impacted her mental health. FIT is republishing this story to bring to the forth the importance of having 'the talk' with your kids about sex and porn.)

It’s every parent’s nightmare. Finding their children’s internet history full of X-rated porn sites. With porn just a click of a button away, teenage curiosity getting the best of them and peer pressure, you know your child will eventually go there.

Recent research points to scary statistics – children are getting exposed to porn when they are as young as 10!

So how do you talk to your child about that four letter word? How do you confront your own feelings about the discovery and how do you not give in to shame?

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It’s Inevitable - Let’s Talk About It

Let your child know that interest in sex is completely normal. It’s an important part of growing up. Listen. And keep your judgement away even if every fibre of your being is tempted to scream and block every access possible! Do not pass on your outrage to your child. And don’t make them feel guilty. They’ll carry that guilt with them in their future relationships.

I spoke with some friends with older children. The refrain is that children are mortified and run away and they, the parents, are not too keen to push the topic.

Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Saba Jivani says:

Talking too much up-front or sounding lecture-prone can tick things off. It is better to start by asking questions, without directly confronting them. Calmly ask ‘how did you first get exposed to porn and how long have you been watching.’ Their answers may lead to more questions; play that out.
Saba Jivani, Clinical Psychologist, Juno Clinic

It’s Not Real - Porn Belongs to an Artificial World

It’s important to let your child know that the people who feature in these videos are actors and their bodies are often surgically enhanced. No one is expected to look that way. That feeling of inadequacy, of not looking perfect can damage the child’s self esteem and shape his sexual encounter when he does come to that stage in real life.

Consistently loving your children, respecting them, listening to them – these are the elements that will help them develop their sense of self-worth and value without pushing them towards shame/fear.
Saba Jivani, Clinical Psychologist, Juno Clinic

Porn Sex is Not Real –Emotions are Important

Instead of feeling angry or upset, use this chance to educate your child about consent. Prepare him or her to be respectful and loving towards their partner when it comes to sexual intimacy. To keep channels of communication open and to listen to their partner. Emotional intimacy is just as important.

There’s no room for conversation in porn. It’s not an educational tool.

It helps to say that, sex is not just an exploration of your sexuality or a co-ordination between two bodies. It involves the crucial component of mutual consent and constant communication about the wants and needs of your partner and yourself.
Saba Jivani, Clinical Psychologist, Juno Clinic

'Sex' Isn’t a Dirty Word

The biggest and the most important message you can give to your child is to let them know that sex is not a dirty word. So don’t be ashamed. Communicate and ask questions and verbalise your feelings. Dr Jivani says:

"If we condemn or shame them, they’ll drive sex into their “never discuss with Mom and Dad” closet, increasing the risk of retreat into the secret fantasy world of porn addiction. Isolation breeds lust; it’s critical that the doors of communication are kept wide open."
Saba Jivani, Clinical Psychologist, Juno Clinic

While there is no conclusive research on whether porn does effect the children physically, there is enough to point out the impact it has on a child’s self esteem and how they view relationships.

As a mother of two, I see that awkward conversation coming up, and I don’t see myself running away from it.

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