Talking With Your Teen About Porn: 7 Tips for Having the Conversation(s), Part 1 of 2

Talking With Your Teen About Porn: 7 Tips for Having the Conversation(s), Part 1 of 2

We’ve spent plenty of time in prior blogs discussing whether or not porn use merits a conversation with your teen; and addressing common barriers to having this conversation; and offering suggestions as you prepare yourself for the conversation.

Finally…you are ready to talk! Here are the first 3 of 7 great tips to keep in mind when you have your conversation:

1. Be intentional and prioritize the relational connection – rather than the point you want to make.

Will your child share honestly with you about relational, sexual and peer struggles? Do your very best to connect and prove that you are available and willing to listen and dialogue (not to be confused with preaching and lecturing). Ask your child if there is anything you do that causes him/her to feel unable to share honest fears and concerns with you. I’ve noted this previously, but it’s worth repeating: don’t buy into the lie that says your child never hears anything you say and will never listen to you. Extensive research points to the unparalleled longing for young people to hear from their parents on important issues (even the uncomfortable ones they tend to avoid). You can’t necessarily measure the input you are having on your child’s life by his/her current response to you or even by his/her current choices. Be consistent in your efforts to connect and communicate openly about difficult topics.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to try a more meaningful (less shaming) conversation. Talk with your child about what it feels like to be him or her right now. What led to him/her viewing porn? Sure, “everyone’s doing it…” But, really. When he/she compares him/herself to peers, how does he/she feel? (Less sexually experienced?) What does he think girls want (or vice versa)? What makes him/her think that? How would it feel to fight against the sexual tidal wave that we currently face in the media? How can you help empower him/her? How connected does he/she feel to quality friends and to other members of the family? What does he/she view as his/her best strengths and assets? Try to help him/her look at what was fueling his/her behaviors. Chances are – your child is not even aware of deeper motivations. What does he/she like about viewing porn?

2. Talk again, and again, and again…

Addressing pornography or other sexual matters is not a one-time conversation. We don’t have a one-time chat with our kids about mathematics, the English language, sports or history and assume that they have absorbed all they need to know. Ask if you can have a weekly time to check in about real-life issues – including pornography and other sexual matters.

3. Bring in the reinforcements.

While your voice cannot be replaced in your child’s life, it can be silenced (by cultural influences that shout way-too-loudly, particularly on topics where we remain silent) or enhanced (by an additional wise and loving “voice of reason” that happens to be endorsing the same messages you express). Increasing relational supports and accountability may prove beneficial. Consider finding a counselor, mentor, small group leader, a mature (but youthful) adult – who can listen, support, and be a supplemental voice of truth. This is most helpful when the person shares your values!

Mindy Pierce, LPC
MPierce @ GrowCounseling.com

Photo Credit: Public Domain

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