Continuing the Conversation Blog
Why Should I Talk To My Kids About Porn?
Friday, January 22, 2016
“When should I read your book to my son? He’s eight,” the mama asked. Then she leaned in, “You know, the part about the pornography?”
It was and is a good question, from a wise and concerned mama, and one that I expected when I wrote Bobby Gilliam, Brave and Strong. I’m glad she asked. I understood her fear.
Will telling my child that pornography exists take away his innocence?
I didn’t plan to introduce the concept of pornography in Bobby Gilliam, but my understanding of sexual abuse demanded it. I couldn’t ignore the voices of so many male survivors who shared that their perpetrators used pornography (visual sexual abuse) to groom them for physical sexual abuse.
I know the word pornography is loaded. And for most adults, it conjures up all sorts of memories and images in our minds. We’ve lived many years. We’ve seen many images. We are jaded. Our children aren’t.
But they will be. One day the images they see and their hormones will collide. And that’s hard for a mama or daddy to think about. We want to believe that sweet baby of ours will never be curious, never see porn, and for heaven sakes, never, ever lust. Right?
If our children have eyes, a brain, live in our culture, and have pituitary glands, our illusions of Neverland are just that--illusions.
I know this because I lived there once. I was going to make sure my kids didn’t see the stuff, want to see the stuff, and lust, oh my, that surely wouldn’t happen until they were adults.
I was wrong. And my husband and I had to decide if we were going to let them navigate the road of inappropriate images alone or with support. Knowing isolation breeds shame, we chose to leave Neverland behind. We knew we had to build a bridge of communication with them regarding pornography, as well as sexual abuse.
That was over twenty years ago.
Fast forward. 2016.
We have a new set of kids. Our older four (our Guinea pigs), now adults, are in their twenties. With more than a decade between our firstborn, in our first set of kids, and our firstborn, in our last set, times and technology have changed. And we’ve been given no choice but to step up our conversations and ignore the enticement of Neverland.
Because our children don’t have to look for inappropriate images or stumble upon them, it’s in their faces.
And we have to decide:
Are we going to wait until they see inappropriate images, or tell them that pornography exists?
Do we want them to know what they should do when they see it?
Do we want them to know they can talk to us about it?
Do we want to take the opportunity to instill our values, or leave them alone, or with another child, to discern what is healthy and what is not?
Because Neverland doesn’t exist.
I can’t tell you exactly when your child is ready for you to build the bridge of communication regarding sexual abuse and porn. I can tell you that the average age for molestation is seven and the average age a child sees inappropriate images is the last time you took them to the grocery store.
Knowledge and healthy communication do not destroy innocence. But sexual abuse and images left to be processed in secret and shame will. (click HERE to tweet this)
Learn more about our children’s book,
A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
A video version of the story will be available to view for free
on our website this Fall 2016!
Carolyn Byers Ruch is the founder of Rise and Shine Movement and author of the children’s books, Ana’s Song (Rise And Shine) and Bobby Gilliam Brave and Strong, both tools for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. She has spent the past ten years championing the issue of childhood sexual abuse and has received training certificates from some of the leading organizations dedicated to protecting children. A former teacher and mother of seven, her life has been enriched through adoption and foster care.
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