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Talk To Your Kids About Porn

31 March 2016 Written by 

Pornography is everywhere. We’re past the relative innocence of boys discovering Dad’s stash of Playboy in the back of the closet. Even hardcore porn has become ubiquitous. TIME’s April 11 cover story is about young men who are reporting serious consequences from watching a lot of pornography in their youth. It’s important to let your kids know that you are aware that explicit videos are almost unavoidable, and that you’re comfortable talking about it—even if you don’t feel so comfortable.

Interest in sex and sexual imagery is completely normal, so the biggest thing for parents to remember is to approach the issue in a non-judgmental way. You should offer to answer any question, however embarrassing. You don’t want them to be ashamed of their curiosity, or to feel so guilty it interferes with developing a healthy sexual identity.

However! Porn is often so unrealistic—a literal “perversion” of real human interactions—that it can endanger kids’ ability to have a healthy relationship with their body and with sexual partners. Parents need to be the reality check. Here are some points for “the talk.”

Start simply: “I’m pretty sure you have looked at pornography. I’m not upset. But I really have to share some facts with you.” Porn stars aren’t meant to look real: Many of those bodies are surgically and hormonally enhanced, and further exaggerated by the way they’re photographed. No one should expect to look that way — or for other people to look that way. Porn sex isn’t real, either: In the real world, people don’t relate to each other this way. They have complex needs, and sex is usually just one part of their relationship. Real people don’t have intercourse for hours at a time, and they don’t always use the language and have the attitude towards each other that are common in porn films. Real sex comes with emotions: Feelings are intentionally absent from most porn. And sex depends on constant communication — about the wants and needs of your partner and yourself, and about consent. Sexually responsible individuals obtain consent before engaging in sexual activity, and recognize it’s also essential to keep communicating throughout sexual activity. It’s vital that partners are on the same page, which means verbal consent must be obtained as the activity moves on to different phases. Real communication has no place in porn, and so porn is not a teaching guide for how to interact sexually and emotionally with others.

Young men who’ve become obsessed with porn report serious problems with their romantic lives. If what turns them on becomes divorced from what is available in the real world, they can find themselves in trouble — as can their partners. And emerging research into the biological effects of heavy pornography use suggest it may be tied to brain changes associated with impulsivity and an inability to delay gratification — alarmingly similar to what happens in drug addiction.

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Daughters, who typically consume less porn but are just as affected by its prevalence, might need some specific information.

Consent: It isn’t just about protecting herself; she can initiate and agree to sexual activity. But it also means she can say no to a specific sexual activity and yes to others, and most importantly she can change her mind and say yes and then no; and that in real life no means no. The pornographic fantasy of domineering men and submissive women is not helpful for the development of a girl’s healthy sexual self-esteem. Not everyone is like that: Not all guys have “bought in” to the ideas about sex in most pornography. Porn may be everywhere, but her values and confidence and individuality are still important. Learn your own boundaries: There can be a lot of pressure in male/female relationships and it’s important for parents to have an open dialogue with their daughters to help them learn their own boundaries, understand how they want to make decisions and know what they want from romantic relationships. That dialogue is too important to leave to pornography

You need to let them know that an interest in pornography is natural, but that the greater enjoyment will be good sex and healthy relationships in the real world. We’re fortunate that we don’t live in the days when seeking out pornography was a seedy, if not dangerous, thing to do. But now that porn is coming into our homes, parents need to be responsible for educating their sons and daughters in parallel to this influence. Porn makes sex a fantasy, which can be O.K. You need to teach your son that sex is also normal, real, and it takes some work. And that’s what makes it special.

Content Originally Published By: Dr. Harold Koplewicz@ Time

Read more: How to Talk to Your Kids About Porn

Read 744 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 November 2016 15:17
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