How to talk with your kids about porn without sending them straight to hell

This article originally appeared on February 24, 2022 at Baptist News Global.

The first time I saw pornography
 was at a public school playground during summer break when I was 8. I had ridden my bike over to the school to play, when a couple teenage boys called me over and said they wanted to show me something.

The next thing I knew, they had put a magazine in front of me with a picture of a naked man and woman. And I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all. Most confusing to me was why there seemed to be a closeup of a hotdog randomly placed on the page.

“That was weird,” I thought. And then I rode away.

Almost 30 years later, I experienced the surprise of my kids discovering porn for the first time. One of the neighbor boys had just been given a new cell phone. And within a day, he was holding his phone while surrounded by my kids for porn on the porch.

“And within a day, he was holding his phone while surrounded by my kids for porn on the porch.”

My kids were understandably curious and wanted to learn more. They also had no idea what words to search and were convinced that the word “boobs” was actually “booms.” So one of them came up to me and said, “Dad, I was curious what booms looked like. So I googled it. But all I found were explosions.”

Sure enough, there in my search history were a couple Google searches for “booms.”

We decided not to panic, but instead told our kids that Google was not the best place for 8-year-olds to go when you’re curious about human bodies. Then we bought them a book titled It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie H. Harris. It’s a really fun and informative book that follows two characters as they ask questions about human bodies, sex and the various kinds of love and families. It’s illustrated with full nudity to show how human bodies grow and develop throughout life, yet it does so in ways that are appropriate for a range of children.

We’ve made it through various portions of the book with our older three kids, depending on their level of curiosity. And now they know what they want to know without being traumatized by panicking parents.

Families can have especially challenging relationships to porn because not only do parents have to work through their own history and relationship to it, they also have to navigate how to respond to their children engaging with it. With so much of today’s educational and social experience happening online, many kids have been given phones or computers over the past two years. Due to increased access to the internet, even on school-issued computers, teachers and parents have reported that pornography use among teenagers has definitely increased since COVID began.

“Not only do parents have to work through their own history and relationship to it, they also have to navigate how to respond to their children engaging with it.”

If we’re going to develop a sexuality of wholeness that flows from our true cosmic story that’s evolved us into who we are today, we’re going to need to discuss how to approach our awareness of and relationship to porn both for ourselves and for our children in spiritually healthy, holistic ways.

The growing popularity of porn

A recent poll by Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institution and the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture talked with individuals and couples to discover how gender-specific behavior with men and women related to pornography is changing and affecting relationships.

While pornography of the past often was seen as taboo, it is becoming increasingly more popular today, even among couples. According to BYU’s polling data, more than 50% of married men and 65% of dating men “agree that pornography can enhance foreplay. However, less than 40% of married women and less than 50% of dating women agree.” Even despite the gender gap, those are significantly high numbers, especially considering that using pornography during married or dating sex implies that it’s not being kept secret from the other partner. How many more individuals are engaging in it secretively?

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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