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Today, the luxury of avoiding that conversation was revoked, as the conversation found me!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