5 Reasons to Talk to Your Teen About Porn

REASON #1: It can be psychologically traumatizing and is often associated with symptoms listed under several diagnosable mental disorders. 

Please do not misunderstand this section. The equation I’m proposing is that these diagnoses can be symptoms of an underlying porn addiction, but that not every person with a mental health diagnosis is a porn addict.

When a teen stops viewing porn and is in counseling, the following symptoms could potentially be alleviated.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Distractibility
  • Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors
  • Eating Disorders
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Low-Self Esteem
  • Isolation
  • Irritability

REASON #2: Not talking about porn leaves the teen more susceptible to becoming addicted to it or have misinformed expectations about sexual intimacy.

Secrecy is the primary source of nourishment that any parasitic addiction needs to thrive. Avoidance of approaching this topic feeds the secrecy through decreasing personal accountability. Thus by not talking about it, you may be inadvertently strengthening the landscape for becoming addicted to it.

REASON #3: Porn is an awkward thing to talk about, and having a person who is willing to talk about awkward things is very helpful.

Building a trusting relationship with your child is of utmost importance for their physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological well being. Trust is safety, and being able to talk about awkward things increases feelings of safety for your child. However, just as it is with other threats to a teens safety, we parents cannot control their exposure to dangers completelyBUT we can let them know: 1) where danger exists, 2) where they can turn when feeling in danger, and 3) where they can go if they get damaged by that which is dangerous. Unprocessed emotional reactions to porn are dangerous.

REASON #4: Talking about sex and expectations regarding intimacy will increase the likelihood of them having healthy relationships in the future.

Having conversations with them about their emotional responses to various experiences in life will increase a your child’s emotional awareness. This is a key in having a healthy relationship with yourself and others — being aware of what is happening and why emotionally for yourself. Having a conversation about how they feel when they saw porn while watching, where they were when watching it [alone likely or with friends sometimes for the initial exposure], how did they feel afterwards, what questions they have about what they saw…etc. These types of discussions allow someone to identify for themselves how they are reacting to an experience and what to do with those feelings. It is designed to sexual arouse, so if that is a feeling during the viewing, talking about arousal to a screen versus arousal to a living person might be a good conversation to have. If you arouse yourself to a screen enough times, you learn to be more aroused to digital things than physical people with whom you have a relationship with.

REASON #5: Talking about sex can help bring to your awareness any insecurities or unprocessed emotional experiences you have with the topic of sexuality. This could result in you becoming a better person than you already are.

Often times parents will avoid conversations on topics that are particularly uncomfortable to them for one reason or another. Just reading this article could make some readers nervous. If this is you, you may want to look into counseling for some help in navigating this discussion for yourself before you counsel or try to console your child.

I have been a part of too many classes as a youth and an adult that suggest to me that the taboo topics [the one’s we don’t like to talk about] are typically the ones that hold the greatest potential to both hurt and heal us. Hurt, if left unprocessed. Heal, if processed.

WHAT NOW?

(…the average age of porn exposure is about 10yrs old these days…)

If you believe your child has a problem with porn or other behaviors mentioned in reason number one (depression, anxiety, isolation, etc) seek professional help. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are all treatable with licensed professionals.

TIPS TO PARENTS:

The healthy and natural progression of sexual intimacy starts long before sex is the focus of pursuit. However, depending on the first exposure or repeated exposures to pornographic materials, that equation can be flipped upside down and really mess up a teen’s (and later adult’s) ability to establish and maintain meaningful casual and intimate relationships.

Help them understand that sex is more than just an event but an expression and expansion of other prerequisite forms of love [like friendship, courting, and, depending on your religious backgrounds, marriage]. Without some kind of a system of ethics backing it, sex can be dull or meaningless, and ultimately it is missing its highest potential for connecting people. The system of ethics that guides healthy intimacy starts with understanding your preferences, comfort levels, willingness to accept another’s preferences and comfort levels, and then mutual exploration under a guided system of care and respect for the other. These systems are either not present, or simply too subtle within pornographic materials and thus leads the consumer into very poorly defined systems of hurt, disrespect, objectification, demoralization, disappointment, and disillusionment.

Take this conversation as an opportunity to first explain about how the teen can explore healthy sexual intimacy rather than just explaining the dangers of viewing porn or participating in objectified sexual acts. Both sides of this conversation need to happen for healthy sexual intimacy to be understood by your child. The conversation of how they are allowed to explore sex needs to be present before or at least as you teach them the disallowed ways.

Medical texts which explain the body parts and functions can be helpful in this process.

For more information about conversational tools visit RAINN:

https://www.rainn.org/safety-prevention

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