What to do when you discover your child is using pornography

By Allie Johnson |

Mother Daughter Talk

Sometimes as parents, we forget that our children are people who have the same innate curiosity and desire for sex as we do. So what do we do when we discover our child has been exposed to or is watching pornography? Our natural reaction is fear; frustration; anger; sadness; and in some cases, awkwardness! How do we talk to our kids about the world of pornography?

  1. Stay Calm! It's easy to launch into lecture mode and start talking about how bad and awful pornography is. However, in this tender moment, it's not the proper response for your child. They are likely feeling ashamed and embarrassed, and affirming those feelings can be dangerous. Take time to collect yourself and your thoughts. Assurance and love are the most important things you can give your child in this moment. 
  2. You aren't dirty or gross. Pornography and shame go hand-in-hand, and your child has most likely been feeling this way for awhile. Guilt and shame tell us we're doing something wrong. Beyond that, guilt has little value and leads to self-degradation and loathing. Explain to your child that they aren't dirty or gross for looking at pornography. As humans, we're naturally curious about sex! Teach them their feelings aren't wrong, they just need to learn how to control those feelings.
  3. Pornography is unrealistic. Explain to your child that pornography is not a true representation of sexuality in a loving relationship. Pornography often shows situations that are controlling, unnatural, and not the type of healthy relationship we strive for. 
  4. Any Questions? Do they have any questions about anything they've seen? Any feelings they want to express? This part may be the most uncomfortable part for some parents, but it's important to allow your child the opportunity to ask any questions or share concerns they have with anything they've seen. This allows them to understand and recognize differences between pornography and a healthy sexual relationship. 

Keep communication open. Make your home a safe place to discuss anything your child may have come across and wants to discuss. It may take time for them to open up to you, but don't be discouraged. Always let them know you're available to talk whenever they need you. This feeling of security and safety will encourage discussions between you and your children. 

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