Face it, moms and dads – there is going to be a time when you stumble upon your child’s online adventures. And you are not going to be happy about it. If you are lucky, you might just catch your child watching a softer version of pornography, and at a much later age. But trust me, there is soon going to be a time when the child’s curiosity is going to expose him/her to the deviant, ugly side of pornography unless you do something about it.
Pornography was hard to access a few years back. There were human filters to obtain it. And even the themes of pornographic magazines and videos were much less perverted than what they are now. Today, a pornographic website is a trap. Not only are there links to explore, the advertisements and popups are potentially dangerous to an uninitiated mind. They are designed in such a manner that a person keeps on visiting them, even if he does not want to.
If your child has already been exposed to pornography, there is only one way out: be candid about it, convince him that this is not the reality, and answer his questions. But most importantly, this is a unique chance to dissociate ‘shame’ with ‘sex’. This is also an opportunity to have the ‘birds and bees’ talk if you have not already had it by now.
If your child has been exposed to pornography, here are the 5 things that you should do.
1. Don’t react impulsively
The act has been done. Nothing you do is going to undo this. So, even though it is the hardest thing in the world to do, you have to manage this with a cool head. Do not react immediately. If you catch him/her in the act, tell him that it is inappropriate and you would be discussing it with him. But, do so in a non-threatening manner.
Sit down with your partner and jot down some talking points on a piece of paper.
You need to address the issue, and at the same time simplify it in such a manner that your child understands pornography for what it is – a perverted deviation of the reality.
Have a discussion on the same day if possible, but not immediately. Ensure that both the partners are there for the discussion if possible.
2. Discuss pornography with your child
Use those talking points and discuss pornography with your child. It is not the time for euphemisms. It is better to be honest, and use appropriate biological terms to discuss the process. So it is ‘penis’, ‘vagina’ and ‘breasts’ instead of ‘dick’, ‘pussy’ and ‘boobs’. This way, you show your child that sexual intercourse is a process not to be denigrated by using derogatory words for body parts.
Base the discussion on these steps.
Step 1. Tell him/her that you know about his exposure to pornography.
Step 2. Tell him/her that it is okay, and he/she should not be ashamed of discussing sex. And it is natural to be aroused by watching pornography. Most of the children want to talk about sex, but don’t know whom to approach. As parents, you are one of the best sources of satisfying his curiosities, not how actual sexual intercourse happens.
Step 3. Tell him/her it is not how actual sexual intercourse happens. Share your views about sex. Stress on the emotional aspect of physical intimacy.
Step 4. Convince him that pornography is rarely a depiction of the actual thing. His/her body is going to change and chances are that it will not look like what he saw in the video. Tell him/her that the body parts he might have witnessed are by no way a standard against which his/her self-esteem should be measured.
3. Encourage follow-up questions
Trust me, he/she is brimming with questions. Encourage your child to ask them to you instead of somebody else. Answer them as directly as you can. Find the accepted terms for the various acts he might have seen. It will help you keep the discussion sensible.
The most important thing, and I am stressing it again, is not to put fear or shame in his mind. If you do that, he is not going to stop watching porn. He will just make sure that you do not find out about it. And that is potentially disastrous.
4. Make it clear that it is not okay to continue watching pornography
At the end, don’t forget that your child is just a child. So, stress on the fact that there is much more to watch than pornography. There is an appropriate age for the consumption of alcohol. Likewise, there is an age after which, it is ‘okay’ though not recommended to watch pornography.
5. Curtail future exposure
The next thing to do is investigate the source. Find out how he/she came across it. Was it an internet search? Did he/she accidentally stumble across it while watching something else? An easy way is to search the browser history. This will tell you exactly when it all began, and how much your child has been exposed.
The next thing you do is install parental controls. Even though Google can control the search results to a large extent, you still need a Parental Control System like NetNanny for all of your devices.
Delay the time your child actually ‘owns’ a device. Keep the computer in the living room. By doing this, your child will stick to his project than venturing on his own. And, if you have a younger child, avoid unsupervised screen time. You do not know what kind of content she might just be exposed to.
Moms and dads, this is a situation you are likely going to face some day. Better be prepared!
This article was originally published on theAsianparent Singapore.
READ: Age-appropriate ways to talk to your kids about sex
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