How do you talk to your kids about porn? How do you teach consent from a young age? How do you have awkward conversations about sex? What does it mean to be a sex-positive parent? Melissa Pintor Carnagey joins Jess and Brandon to share her advice and insights on these topics and more.
You can find Melissa online at sexpositivefamilies.com. They have downloadable guides, resources, podcast episodes and blog posts that offer education to help families raise sexually healthy children. One of their most popular resources is our Sex Positive Families Reading List with over 100 curated books about sexual health topics for children and adults of all ages.
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Check out Jess' thoughts on how to talk to your kids about porn below:
The landscape of sex has changed since we were kids with sexting, mobile porn and social media shaping the way young people learn about sex.
With explicit content at their fingertips, talking to our children about sex and porn is more important than ever. And as uncomfortable as a conversation about porn may be, there is no avoiding it if we want to support our children in developing healthy attitudes toward intimacy, sexuality and relationships. While there is no perfect formula for addressing such a sensitive and subjective topic, we have a few tips for making the conversation count:
Ask questions without judgment
Parents often wonder how to start a conversation about sex and it is common to have serious concerns with regard to exactly how much information they should reveal. One of the best ways to address these concerns is to ask questions to help understand what your kids have seen, learned and heard about sex and porn. Ideally, you’ll want to address the topic before your child is exposed to the material, but many young people click on adult content inadvertently.
If your young child has clicked on a porn link accidentally, you might want to ask him what he saw and what he thought of the images, language and content. By remaining neutral in tone, language and facial expressions, you can encourage your child to express himself without fear of judgment.
If you’ve found adult links on your child’s computer, you might ask her what she felt when viewing the videos and emphasize that both positive, negative and conflicting reactions are normal. Other questions to guide your discussion might include:
What do you know about porn/sex?
Do your friends ever talk about porn/sex and if so, what have you heard?
How did you feel about what you saw?
When your child presents you with a question about a sex term or sex act (e.g. What is intercourse?), you can turn the tables and ask him/her what s/he already knows. This is the perfect teachable moment to dispel any misinformation and learn a bit more about your child’s sources of sex information which may range from schoolyard friends and older siblings to the internet and television programs.
Fill in the blanks with age-appropriate information.
Depending on your child’s age and your comfort level, you can fill in as much or as little information as you deem suitable. Sex education is most effective when it is age appropriate; for example, a four year old can understand the basics of reproduction (a man and a woman are needed to create a baby), whereas a 7 year-old can grasp the basic concepts of intercourse (the penis goes in a vagina). Answering your child’s questions about sex and porn from such an early age may seem counterintuitive, but research continues to confirm that learning accurate information about sex (including both positive and negative outcomes) does not lead to an increase sexual activity; accurate sex education, however, does lead to positive sexual interactions and relationships in the future.
Though experts can offer guidelines and tips with regard to how to approach this sensitive topic, as a parent,