Time Is Running Out! Talk to Your Teen Boy About Pornography Today!

protect teen boys from PornPornography is like a bad smell, it diffuses through a room; you don’t see it coming but you know when it’s reached you!

How do we, as Mums, prepare our teen boys to face this sensory assault?

The first and most important step is to prepare yourself! And this is likely to be the hardest part!

You have to take-off those beautiful rose-tinted-blingy-sunnies and take a look at your boy.

Look at him with the glasses on and you’ll see the baby he once was, his sweet little smile and eyes only for Mamma! With the glasses off you see a hormone-driven, pre-pubescent adolescent in place of your baby! Where the heck did he come from?!

Denial is a beautiful thing, protecting us from the unstoppable changes that we don’t wish to see. But to tackle pornography with your teen boy you have to stamp on those glasses for good!

I know how hard this is. Life was so much easier when my kids thought babies were made by ‘special cuddles’ and blow jobs were the finishing touches to my latest hairstyle!

How did it get so complicated?

When I read Em Rusciano’s article Your Need To Talk to your Kids About Porn  earlier this year, I thought she was being a bit alarmist! I mean, really, at 12 and 14, are my boys likely to encounter pornography? Their laptops are monitored by the school, our home computers have privacy settings in place and they aren’t allowed devices in their bedrooms.

So what’s the risk?

Here are the ugly facts from Em’s article

90% of kids aged between 8-16 have seen pornography at least once. Boys aged between 12-17 are the largest consumers of online porn.

Even though I read these facts I still maintained a level of denial. Why?

Because I didn’t want to have the conversation.

And it’s not because I find talking about sex difficult; I was a nurse for God’s sake! It’s in my blood to talk body fluids, flatulence and foreskins!

My reluctance stems from my own feelings of ambivalence about porn.

I haven’t worked out how I feel about porn, and this is clouding my ability to be able to offer real guidance for my kids.

  • Am I morally opposed to it?
  • Do I feel threatened by it?
  • Is it a rite-of-passage for men?
  • When is porn healthy and when is it toxic?

Today, the luxury of avoiding that conversation was revoked, as the conversation found me!

A Conversation To Remember

A journey home from school can be a series of tired grunts and mumbles, questions about what snacks can be eaten at home or a full blown discussion about pornography! My brain was dead, but instinct told me the moment of reckoning had arrived!  I had to think fast on my feet.

Under normal circumstances a discussion like this would involve Dad, as this is a complex issue that benefits from multiple perspectives. But that wasn’t an option, they were receptive to this sensitive discussion right now!

Acting on instinct I achieved a few things in the 30 minutes that followed: I worked out where I stood on pornography, I reigned-in my emotion and actively listened to my kids and finally I found a rational argument to deter their access to porn.

Knowing that you, my fellow Mum, will have to step out of denial too one day, I am laying bare my strategies for tackling porn with teen boys.

Good luck. It isn’t as bad as you think!

Strategies For Talking To Teen Boys About Porn

Timing is everything

Finding the right moment to talk about porn is essential, because if you dive in Cold Turkey then it’s easy to make everyone feel uncomfortable.

These sensitive conversations need to take place when you are in flow; connecting in an open and honest way. Levelling the playing field happens when you signal you are listening to their concerns rather than asserting your views; it’s a place in which judgment is suspended, and two way discussion is begins.

Starting The Conversation

Ascertain prior knowledge – what do they already know? It may not be as bad as you think, and if it is you need to understand their perception. Hearing about graphic content second hand means they may have snippets of information, but can’t find a context to piece it all together. Your job is to provide that framework within which understanding can happen.

What Do They Want To Know 

Do your home work! This is vital, you don’t want to discover that you’ve given them the low down on going-down when all they wanted to know is whether people really take all their clothes off in-front of each other! Find out what they are curious about? This will help guide the level of detail you need to give.

Focus On The Facts

Teens don’t want to hear that they shouldn’t do something just because you said so, but they will respond to rational argument. I believe that my teens need to understand why they should stay away from porn. If my kids have an opportunity to view porn,  I want them to reason things through, weighing up the pros and cons for themselves.

So What Is The Rational Argument To Convince Boys To Stay Away From Porn?

I am strongly opposed to teens being exposed to porn before they have experienced safe, loving and intimate relationships on their own terms. With this as my premise, I approached the conversation with 5 logical arguments:

1. Experience intimacy on your own terms – if you haven’t had any intimate contact with a girlfriend yet, then porn is not the place to start. It will present you with a warped view of what to expect intimate relationships to be about.

2. The pressure to measure up – men are larger than life in porn movies; it’s their business to make sure size matters! It’s very easy to feel inadequate when you compare yourself. This is damaging to your confidence and sets the bar of sexual prowess too high before you’ve even begun!

3. Women in porn are pretending – women in porn movies are not like the regular girls that you will be dating. They will not teach you how to have good sex, they are simply acting! Intimate relationships are based on honest communication, consideration and tenderness, you can’t learn that from porn!

4. Porn hurts people – porn is often unregulated and can show images of people getting hurt and exploited, it’s upsetting to see this kind of stuff and once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it.

5. Computer STDs – porn sites are often insecure, request credit card details and entice you to click unsafe links by using tantalising sexual images. A virus on your computer will destroy your work, photos, contaminate your contacts and seriously stuff things up!

My experience taught me that approaching the topic of pornography was all about having a relaxed and open mind, realising that it’s a choice the boys will make in my absence and that I need to give them the tools to make an informed decision.

Have you addressed the issue of pornography with your teen boys?

Do you think its different if you’ve got teen girls? I’d love to hear your views in the comments.

 

This post is shared at #mummy&us

Mummy&us linky

 

The Junctions Of Motherhood; 15 Moments That Will Change Your Parenting Journey

change doesnt care if youre readyThis week I became the mother of a 15 year old!

Excuse me a minute while I pick myself up off the floor! Did I really just write that? I thought that only happened to other people?!

When Biscuit was a baby I would meet Mum’s who said they had a 15 year old child. Child!? I would think, that’s not a child, it’s a dependent adult!  I would foolishly think –

I’ve come a long way since then (15 years to be precise!)! And I can assure my 28 year old self that I am no less a Mummy just because I’m called Mum and don’t have to wipe anyone else’s bum!

Surprising Significance

Parenting is full of surprises (beginning with the birth), and it’s those unexpected moments that are most deeply imprinted on me. Unexpected tenderness, surprise laughter, fleeting connections with my children in our chaotic schedule. These are the moments that catch me off-guard;  full of raw, unqualified emotion which leaves its mark in memories.

If 15 years of parenting has taught me anything it’s this;

Meaning is found in reflection, and moments of significance gain focus with hindsight.

Children change all the time, reshaping like wet clay, but there are moments when the clay hardens and sets; these changes form the new shape of your future together.

Junctions of Motherhood

Change represents the junction points of motherhood; the moments where your journey together will take a new direction. To plot this journey of change I map backwards; retracing my steps to a certain junction and reflecting on its significance.

Some time ago I missed a junction; the last time I carried my boy in my arms. Like the many actions of parenting I did this without thinking; holding him tight, straining with the weight of him, never realising that this was the last time I would carry him. The change in his size reached a tipping point when pitted again my strength, and suddenly Dad carried him or he had to walk.

It’s a practical progression, but when I reflect on it I see it’s significance; one phase of motherhood has drawn to a close.

Would it have made a difference if I had seen these junctions approaching? Probably, by bringing my awareness to the small moments of everyday parenting, and cherishing their fleeting nature knowing they wouldn’t last.

 So here are my 15 junctions of motherhood.

1. The day toys were off the birthday list

I never thought I’d hear this sentence leave my sons lips, but as Biscuit’s 11th birthday approached he declared ‘I’m too old for toys’! If I had known this one was coming I’d have paid more attention to the last toy I ever bought him!

2. The last kiss in public

If you’re anything like me you’ll love that little hug and kiss goodbye at school each morning. There are warning signs with this one, kissing begins to be scaled back; removed from the classroom goodbyes get briefer and briefer until suddenly its a; ‘See ya later’ over the shoulder as they stroll off with their mates. You can expect this one to start anywhere between 5 and 9 years old.

3. The day an Ikea meatball record was broken 

One of our family traditions is to visit Ikea once a year, spend huge $ on home-improvement fantasies projects, stock up on enough tea-lights to live in a cave for the next ten years going home stuffed with meatballs and chips! There is a certain amount of kudos according to how many meatballs one can consume, and we each have a ranking. This week saw an shock win in this annual tradition, Biscuit stole the title of Champion Meatball Eater from his Dad, eating a massive 23! Look out for this one at around 15 years old (and carry a vomit bag with you)!

4. The day he washed and dried his own clothes

This is one that you need to nurture; since he was 10 years old I have shown Biscuit how to work the washing machine, at first he just packed it then slowly progressed to adding detergent and setting it. But it was still a wonder and a marvel to come home and find that not only had he sorted his school uniform out, he had washed it, dried it and had even thrown a few of my lights in for good measure! You can expect to see this from 10-14 years.

5. The day I relied on him to cook for the family

A bit like the washing machine, I suggest you encourage cooking skills to develop early, and build to independence with small steps. On this occasion it was a stressful night, with Dad home late from work and me dashing off to soccer training with his brother. Someone had to feed the family, and that someone was Biscuit!  Read the soul searching this junction prompted here in Mother’s Contradiction; Nurturing Independence In Teens .

6. The nightmare that didn’t wake me

‘I had a bad dream last night.’ This matter-of-fact statement bellied a significant milestone; my boy had soothed himself back to sleep after a bad dream, and didn’t need reassurance from Mum. Teaching strategies for self-soothing after nightmares are essential foundations to achieve this one, but it happened for us about 10 years old.

7. The day that briefs were outlawed

My boys wore briefs without question until a couple of years ago, when they were outlawed overnight! A reward went out to anyone who gave information about their hiding places, existing briefs were rounded up and mercilessly destroyed. Meanwhile their successors, The Boxer Shorts, colonised the underwear draws until total domination was complete! Expect this one from age 9 -12.

8. The day the tooth-fairy was fired

After furtive glances between Biscuit and I, (keeping up appearances for his little brother’s sake), he placed the tooth under his pillow and said goodnight. Unfortunately, in the morning the tooth was still there! After one too many glasses of wine the Fairy had forgotten she was on duty! She was promptly fired! Teeth are now bought and sold in cash deals without wands or glitter!

9. The day he bankrolled me

Biscuit has an uncanny knack of being the only person in the house with cash! I have a running tally of IOUs to him, which he records in his little back book (luckily he hasn’t thought of applying interest yet!). Look out for an increase in your debts at around age 8!

10. The day I came up to his shoulder

It’s very strange hugging your child when they have to bend down to you! Obviously you should see this one coming, but in-case you’re in severe denial, expect it anywhere between 12 – 14 years.

11. The last time I put him to bed

If you’re anything like me you might not see this one coming! I take satisfaction in a job well done when I put my boys to bed; tucking them in, knowing their snug and safely deposited for the night with a kiss and a whispered ‘I love you’. It’s a bit like my clocking -off card, my job is done for another day and out comes the wine! But at 14 Biscuit decided that he’d see himself to bed! I didn’t like this one little bit, but you can’t stop the tide of independence, and after much protesting, he gets a kiss goodnight and I stay in the lounge. Expect this one anywhere from 12 -14 years.

12. The day his home work became too hard for me

I knew this one was on the cards, math has never been my forte, but now I’m officially redundant from helping with Math homework.

13. The last day he was small enough to carry in my arms

As a parent I’ve been concerned with weight and growth since the day they were born, but it never really dawned on me that my baby would literally get to big to carry!  I remember gently lifting him out of the car, careful not to wake him, and carrying him to bed, his soft face resting on my neck. This milestone comes with a warning; you never know when Your Strength V His Weight will reach the tipping point, but you’ll find your empty arms will ache with longing the day it does.

14. The day he said ‘ Mum’s got PMT, again!’

Grr! Need I say more? The annoying male habit of dismissing a grumble constructive criticism as PMT started at 14 years old! I reminded him that the female of the species is more deadly than the male, and comments like that are likely to prove it!

15. The day he locked the bathroom door

Unless we have visitors in the house, bathroom and bedroom doors remain open and unlocked, conversations continue regardless of whether we’re on the toilet or in the bath! So the first time that the bathroom door was shut (and locked) we all knew that a new chapter had begun. Privacy, a need never previously considered, is now a norm.

Acknowledgements

Quote from www.livelifehappy.com

 

A Mother’s Contradiction: Nurturing Independence in Teens

Teens independenceWhy is it that every step your teenager takes towards independence leaves you feeling that little bit emptier? Often the pride I feel in seeing my child’s milestones is tinged with a sense of loss.

Why does each new phase of growing up feel like a step further away from me?

Teenage Milestones

Last night I witnessed another Teenage First, my 14 year old son Berry cooked us dinner!

He’s cooked before, muffins and brownies, usually under my watchful eye and ‘just for fun’. But last night was different. I was rushed and had to get his brother to soccer training, his Dad was home but working and so cooking was about dividing the labour of family life.

Someone needed to cook, and the only someone available was him!

Coming back after a cold night at soccer the house was warm with the smell of dinner. Berry had cooked his first family meal – Brown Lentil and Chorizo Soup with warm crusty French stick. Delicious.

Full Belly: Empty Heart

It was as I was clearing up that I realised that my pride in his achievements was tinged with a note of sadness, of loss, almost.

Where was this coming from?

Mulling this over as I packed the dish washer, I realised that feeding him had been my job from the first moment I held him in my arms, 14 years ago. And now we’d shifted gear again. He could do it without me.

Like so many other achievements throughout the years, he was growing into wonderful and heart-breaking independence.

They’re changing and growing away from us everyday. And it’s true that this, in itself, is a wonderful thing.

Catherine Naja  The Grief in Growing Up

The Double Edged Sword of Independence

The move towards independence is inevitably a move away from dependence. It’s a spectrum along which all children are travelling, and one in which parents fluctuate between celebration and desperation.

I know that every step my children take towards independence is a good thing. But it’s a contradiction too;  I’m nurturing the very thing that I’m dreading; the day they don’t need me any more!

It’s a battle at times, wanting to hold them tight and make time stand still. A wise friend was able to sum up her feelings as her boy grew to adulthood:

I’m so proud of the young man you’re becoming, but I really miss the little boy that you were.

Anne Gates.

And it’s true.

I really miss that little boy who thought I was his whole world, who would snuggle up on my lap for stories and sleep in my arms.

But I love the young man who wraps me in his arms, who cooks me dinner and asks how my day has been.

That young man is here right now, and that little boy is just a memory.

So I’m cherishing the young man, reflecting on who he was whilst anticipating all that he will become.

A New Chapter

Each stage of growing up is amazing, each new milestone brings different connections, exciting opportunities and new adventures.

Growing to independence signals the close of a chapter.

But like any good story, a new chapter begins, enthralling us in the same way the previous one did.

independence in teens

Forget Tomorrow! Appreciate All-The-Little-Things Today!

Child painting black & whiteAre we are so preoccupied with the next milestone for our children that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate how far they’ve come?

Recently I watched a class of 4 year olds perform their first assembly item ever! Assembly items are dear to the hearts of many Australians, but if you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain.

Assembly Items

Which 2 words bring a teacher out in a cold sweat?

Which 2 words fill a parent’s heart with joy?

Which 2 words fill children with either love or loathing?

ASSEMBLY ITEMS!

Primary school children around Australia are made given the opportunity to perform an ‘Item’ in assembly once a year. They take to the stage for about 20 minutes to sing, share their learning and generally entertain their peers and parents. During the week of an assembly item the classroom is transformed into a production line of painting, sticking and rehearsing.

You know it’s the morning of an assembly item when:

  • Children are seen in the playground with furry ears and tails
  • Teachers develop twitches and can be heard humming ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ obsessively
  • Parents with large cameras are spotted jostling for pole position in the assembly area
  • Girls get very giggly and let out high pitched squeals
  • Boys take to meeting in the toilets to avoid their Mum’s attempts to wipe their faces or flatten their hair (again)

The Moment of Glory

The anticipation is high as your child takes to the stage. He walks (slowly) towards the microphone with a face serious enough to deliver the SBS News and declares:

I’m Travis and I like hot chips.

Your camera is snapping like mad, Dad’s got the video rolling, capturing every doleful syllable for eternity. This is Travis’ moment of glory, to be replayed at his 18th, 21st, 40th, and 60th! If only he knew!

Proud Mummy Moment

My children’s assembly items have all been adorable Proud-Mummy-Moments that I treasure, but they are equally hilarious for their droll delivery and absolutely un-smiling faces!

But on this occasion I was not watching my own children, so didn’t have the distraction of taking photos, or competing for the best view.

I just sat back and enjoyed the show.

From ABC To Algebra

It was somewhere between the shapes song and the alphabet recital that I had a light-bulb moment!

It was only 6 years ago that Berry had been that small…how had I forgotten so quickly?

Only 6 years ago Berry had just learned to name a square, count to 20, and remember the letters of the alphabet. How amazing is it that now he’s learned to calculate the square root of a number and is using his ABC in equations!

Am I so busy looking ahead to the Next-Big-Thing

that I’ve forgotten to appreciate All-The-Little-Things?

All The Little Things

As a Mum of an emerging teen I am more conscious than ever of the speed at which time is passing. And I don’t want to miss a minute.

I want to appreciate my children and all they’ve become every. single. day.

Today I’m opening my eyes with new wonder on All-The-Little-Things:

  • How he ties his own shoe-laces
  • Makes his own lunch
  • Says please and thank you
  • Can ride a bike
  • Asks how my day was
  • Hugs me in the morning
  • And sleeps through the night!

So close your eyes and open them afresh today and see,

YOUR AMAZING CHILD.

 

Finding the Me in Mum-me!

quote-mother-kids-independenceEveryone says that blogging is addictive, but this is going too far! On Friday I was so absorbed in writing the post The Kiss Goodbye that time stood still – well at least for me it did!

Cyber Kids v Real Kids

When I did look at the clock to my horror it said 3.25pm, and I should leave for school at 3pm!! So I was like a crazy thing tearing around the place and charging off to school. Biscuit and Berry were happily kicking a football around with their friends, unfazed by my lack of punctuality.

However the irony of the situation does make me smile. I was so busy thinking about my cyber kids ‘Biscuit’ and ‘Berry’ that I forgot to attend the real life versions of them!

Something Missing?

So having learned my lesson, the next day Berry was at a friend’s place and Biscuit was at sailing. With tough conditions on the ocean he was cold and tired when I collected him at 6pm, and looking forward to the promise of a warming dinner and a movie.

But…while he was out I had been absorbed in completing my About Me page in the blog and guess what…I remembered to collect him (Yay!) but forgot to cook dinner (Boo!).

So what can I take away from all this? Set a phone alarm!!

What’s so addictive about blogging? When I write I find a place that I haven’t visited for many years.  A place within me.

A Place Within Me

Writing is like taking a new lover; absorbing, enthralling and consuming. I long for it when I’m not able to get away from other things, I anticipate it while doing those things and I feel it’s pulse in my body all the time.

Although the dinners and the school runs may have been missed recently, I think something deeper has been missing for longer. Me. And my connection to self.

Strange really, that by reflecting on my role as mum, I have started to discover me! But I guess that’s a symptom of the children getting more independent, they’ve left a space where mummy used to be. Now they only need mum and so that leaves more time for me!

Re-packaging Mummy!

Mummy, a word full of promise.

mum-baby-love-mummy-not-just-a-nameInspiring, protecting and comforting;  ‘Mummy’ is much more than just a name. Fourteen years ago my baby boy was placed in my arms and a whole new chapter of my life began. My new role as a Mummy was full of promise, I had joined an exclusive group whose knowledge could only be gained through lived experience. For the first time in my life I became an instant ‘expert’! It was strange how quickly I learned things about baby Biscuit that other people didn’t spot; the way his cry changed from hunger to pain, the little noises that meant he needed sleep or wanted cuddles. This was when I realised that I did know more about my own baby than anyone else!

My baby was my world and I was his.

Being a Mummy was like falling in love, but without the worry of whether it was reciprocal! My baby was my world and I was his. Simple. Although at times being Biscuit’s Mummy was fraught with anxiety and challenged me to make tough decisions I loved the role, and discovered Mummy was the name I had always known.

Who is Mummy?

I’m often the inspiring, loving and respected Mummy, but sometimes I’m the grumpy, bored and taken-for-granted Mummy!  I am the one that keeps the balls in the air for our family.  Like a project manager I run the schedules, manage the costs and complete the check lists for the smooth running of Team K. I do get it wrong at times. We go over budget, miss deadlines and have a bumpy ride!  But most of the time it’s what makes me tick.

Being Mummy to Biscuit and Berry has been my most fulfilling, demanding and emotionally satisfying role.

Goodbye Mummy?

This year I had some tough news; the boys decided that they are too old to call me Mummy.

In theory I agreed with them, at 14 and 11 they should start call me Mum.  I remember the sting of being laughed at by some older girls in high school after they overheard me say ‘goodbye Mummy’.

So I moved from Mummy 2 Mum!

First steps on a new journey.

Mummy wordle

Is Mum the same as Mummy?

But that change was more than just a name.

This would be the first step in the long  process of letting go. The boys don’t need so many cuddles, they entertain themselves and seek independence rather than being my little shadow!

So what is my new role as Mum to adolescent boys? I don’t know just yet, and the irony isn’t lost on me when I say it’s like being handed that new-born all over again! I’m the ‘expert’ on my own kids, so I’m just going to have to work it out, the way I did when they were babies!

They still need a listening ear, feeding, protecting, encouraging, soothing, inspiring and the occasional hug (just not in-front of their friends!). It seems like the same stuff Mummy did just delivered in new packaging!

I can do that. I can re-package Mummy and become a Mum of teens!

Have your children stopped calling you Mummy yet? Did the change in name bother you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!