Talking With Your Teen About Pornography: Preparing Yourself for the Conversation, Part 1 of 2

Talking With Your Teen About Pornography: Preparing Yourself for the Conversation, Part 1 of 2

When you’ve chosen to sit down and talk to your child about pornography, how you enter into the conversation can seriously impact the tone and the outcome. Here are a couple suggestions as you take time to prepare yourself for the conversation.

Know thyself. Before taking any action steps, stop for a few minutes and pay attention to all that you are feeling. In order to avoid flipping out or having a complete panic attack, let’s consider a few common inner beliefs that may be driving your response to your son’s (or daughter’s) behavior:

  1. “Man, I am such a failure as a parent.”  As parents, we have a huge task: love, model, teach, encourage, provide for, discipline, disciple – plus all the other stuff like feeding, clothing, driving places, practices/games, homework, etc. We sometimes add to our To Do list, “controlling the outcome.” Is there room for improvement in your parenting? Probably so, since we’re all imperfect. But black and white thinking that brands you (or your son/daughter) as a complete failure means that your whole identity is now summed up by this set of circumstances. Such an assessment doesn’t account for all that you are as a parent, all that your daughter/son is as a child or person or the fact that you have many responsibilities and none of them include controlling the outcome.
  1. After all the time and energy I’ve invested in trying to raise him/her right! How could he/she do this to me?!”  Sometimes our children’s behaviors are a cry for our attention or a power play so they can prove that you are not the boss of them. Sometimes their behaviors are about us, their parents. However, all child behavior is not directly about the parent. Sometimes they behave in certain ways because there’s something much bigger and much more powerful going on. Peer pressure, developmental stages, a lapse in judgment, the power of hormones, a spiritual struggle, deeper unmet needs, etc. It’s important to not personalize something that isn’t remotely intended as a slight against Mom or Dad.
  1. “This kind of behavior is reeeeally problematic. He’s/She’s probably ruined for life.”  There is no denying that porn-viewing and sexual acting out behaviors can create a host of negative repercussions for our children. There may be some pretty difficult discussions and days ahead, but there is always hope for restoration and healing.
  1. “This sex-saturated, media-filled, techno-savvy world we are living in is an all-powerful evil and makes me feel hopeless as a parent.”  Absolutely, much evil exists in our world. So much misinformation about sexuality; so much warring against our children. But I tend to think that we have a unique opportunity to push back the darkness. If we are hoping to protect our children from ever being impacted by anything impure – well, that’s not going to happen. But we can certainly equip our teens with tools to deal with these challenges when they encounter them! And, we can also establish the kind of relationship with our sons and daughters that assures them that we are willing to have conversations about difficult subjects. We won’t avoid; we won’t shut down; we will be open and will help them find the help and answers they need.

Mindy Pierce, LPC
mpierce @ growcounseling.com

Photo Cred: Andrea LD

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