I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that I secretly hoped I’d be able to shelter my kids from certain things, at least until they were old enough to understand. Unfortunately, back in my new mom days, I didn’t realize how much influence other kids could have as they got older.
For example, my oldest son, who is in middle school in the Hazelwood School District, recently confided that a friend at school had shown him pornographic photos on his phone. Naturally, I immediately wanted to call his friend’s mother and tell her what he’d done, but my son assured me that she already knew and had taken away his phone.
While we have had the whole “birds and bees” talk, this was something I didn’t expect to deal with so soon. So, after putting aside my desire to take my son out of school and shelter him forever, I took a deep breath and started a new discussion.
I told him that while pornography might be visually stimulating, it is nothing like “real sex.” I explained that the men and women involved were paid to do what they did. I reiterated that sex is something that you should only do with someone you love, and I revisited the topic of sexually transmitted diseases, which we had covered during our “birds and bees” discussion a few years back.
I even reminded him that having babies is no picnic, and pointed out how little sleep I got when his baby sister was born three years ago. I went so far as to tell him that girls at his age could not really enjoy intercourse as their bodies aren’t mature enough yet. He said that he understood, and after a brief recap of our discussion, we moved on to a less uncomfortable topic.
I realize that I can’t control everything he sees or hears, but I sometimes wish I could.
This brings me to this week’s question. Should parents pre-emptively educate their children about things like pornography in order to give them a frame of reference when they are exposed, or should we wait until they're exposed before we address the issue?