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Porn conversations don’t have to be stressful. This guest post is from a mum who started foundational chats when her kids were young, very matter-of-fact with her approach. We hope you are inspired by this story and find the courage to have porn conversations early, helping you to raise porn resilient kids.

I began porn conversations with my son when he was 9, knowing that the average age most boys view pornographic content is 11. I’ve always had an easy, honest relationship with my son, so it was not difficult for me to introduce the subject in our conversations.

The approach right for our family

Me personally—I felt that attempting to put locks on computers and controls on what he could access was fairly pointless. I reasoned that more holes would appear in any attempted safety net, and these tech-savvy kids will always find a way around.

GTA 6

I wanted to instead have a dialogue with him and help him understand how to make choices for himself about what content he chose to consume and why. Not because “Mummy says no”, but because he genuinely felt empowered to exercise his own right to choose what he fills his head with. And kids are curious and will eventually want to know what they’re missing, and very likely experiment anyway.

Despite all his young friends playing Grand Theft Auto, for example, I discussed with him that we vote with our wallets. We don’t support any game that has the options of bashing women with baseball bats and setting them on fire. Many times other parents have said to me “Oh but my son doesn’t do those things, he just likes the cars”, etc. But, as my son and I discussed, you’re still supporting a game that includes those options, and we are not okay with that.

Sex = good. Porn = harmful.

I shared with him that sex and sexual curiosity are natural and healthy and nothing to feel ashamed of. But they don’t call it the “porn industry” for nothing and many women performers are victims of exploitation—and porn scenarios are often violent and misogynistic.

My main point to him was that studies have shown that excessive porn use wires the brains of young people and their burgeoning sexuality in harmful ways. It shapes them to be aroused by unrealistic and often disrespectful scenes. Like a drug, it relies on escalation, causing young men to want more and more explicit and violent content to become aroused. Porn bears no relation to healthy mutual sexuality.

Porn rewires the brain

I taught him that porn treats people—women—like objects to be used—not human beings to connect with. Our discussions were continuous and more in-depth as he became older. He shared his experiences of the things his friends had shown him, and the ways that boys at school spoke of girls and sexuality. I always made it a mutual dialogue, asked what he thought was healthy and unhealthy, and answered any questions he had with honesty, and zero embarrassments.

definition of genitals

I always taught my kids the real names for their genitals. (Occasionally regretting it when my toddler screamed VAGINA!! PENIS!! across the aisles of Woolworths, but I digress). Both my kids were well ahead of the school sex Ed programs because we had discussed it all before.

I had conversations about online safety. I made sure they knew that the unknown ‘kid’ they could be talking to was likely a sweaty 45-year-old pervert in a string singlet, not a child their own age. So they were alert to talking to strangers online and wary of chat rooms and giving out any personal information.

I admit to having an amusing story when my son was about 11. I had read about a game I knew they had on their iPads called Roblox, and how it was being used by predators to lure kids into chat rooms for grooming purposes. So I asked my son about it and explained what I had read.

He said, “Ohhh yeah, that. Someone in there tried to friend me in the chat room and asked me if I was a boy or a girl”.

Obviously perturbed, I asked aghast “What did you say?!” And he nonchalantly responded, barely looking up from his game, “Oh I just told him I was ‘a f***ing Timelord’ and kept playing. (He was into Dr Who at the time, and I have to concede I lost control of their swearing like sailors a long time ago. Judge me as you will, but they also both read books and can speak perfectly eloquently and intelligently when they choose to). He told me the ‘person’ tried to talk to another boy in the game, and he told him “He’s a f***ing Timelord too, so leave him alone”.

Timelord by Kleeng

Startled but somewhat impressed, I managed to get out: “Well, good chat then”.

NOT all boys watch porn

My daughter is now turning 12, and my son is 15. He recently came out to school peers as anti-porn, quite naturally and confidently. One girl said “I don’t believe you! All boys watch porn!” And his best mate, who happens to be a lovely bogan girl I’m very fond of, confirmed his statement with “Yeah it’s true, he’s weird like that”.

When asked “what do you masturbate to then?”, he apparently rolled his eyes and said, “my big brain”.

He’s a good looking, active, sporty kid, likely to get in trouble for being a class clown and not ‘achieving his full potential’ because they know he’s bright. Still, he likes to horse around and be amusing. He’s very social; we live off-grid, and my kids have great mates over the road. They create makeshift vehicles with which to endanger themselves—they have a marvellous time while their mother and I scream “put your helmets on!!”

So he’s just a normal kid. But he recently came to me and thanked me for always having those open chats, particularly the ways that we were able to have porn conversations.

Otherwise, he said, he’d be “just like all the other ignorant douches at school”.

Porn conversations pay wonderful dividends

I’m so glad that all the talks about healthy vs toxic masculinity that we’ve had over the years have paid such wonderful dividends. I’m relieved that it’s not ‘inevitable’ that boys get their sexual education from pornography. It’s so encouraging that he feels confident knowing that to “f*** girls” is not what makes him a man. His character does.

My son has a healthy respect for women. His sister is the toughest kid I have ever met and really benefits from having her big brother around. She’s had her own version of chats with me about sexuality. We have porn conversations and talk rape culture, and about the lack of discussion in sex education classes about female pleasure. They are both growing up into honest, empowered teens who know they have choices in what they consume.

And despite our very mature conversations, they are both still childlike and giggly in their interests and play activities.

At no point do I feel they’ve “grown up too fast” due to these dialogues.

Our journey of discussions and open dialogue will continue as they grow and face more challenges. I’ve shared with them that their journey as young people in this world “learning as they go”, parallels my learning journey as a parent—all of us can learn and change and challenge the culture we live in.

I’m so grateful to have the relationship that I have with my kids. I’m so glad I began to talk about sex and have porn conversations early, which then shaped their attitudes and confidence. I can’t police everything they see, but I hope I’ve helped to give them the tools to deal with whatever life brings them.

Porn Resilient Kids gives voice to courageous stories. If you have a story that you want to share (you can do so anonymously), so that others can learn from everyday challenges and parenting experiences send us an email. Your courage will help others.

If you are in Australia and need help with a cybersafety issue, the eSafety Commissioner deals with 3 kinds of abuse. Cyberbullying, image-based abuse and illegal content. Report abuse here.

Report concerns to the Australian Federal Police about inappropriate behaviour towards children that you find online. This service can be used to report:

  • adults making online contact with a child under 18 with the intention of facilitating a sexual relationship; or
  • an adult accessing, sending or uploading sexualised material depicting a child under 18.
Liz Walker

Author Liz Walker

Liz Walker is an accredited sexuality educator, speaker and author, dedicated to culture-shifting initiatives that respond to pornography harms on children & young people. To learn more about Liz, visit lizwalkerpresents.com. To access educational resources and support for schools visit youthwellbeingproject.com.au.

More posts by Liz Walker

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