Will Talking about Porn Today Save Your Child’s Marriage Tomorrow?

Save Marriage

Another One Bites the Dust

I just heard about another divorce caused by pornography addiction. A few years ago when I read the statistic that 56% of all divorces name pornography addiction as a major factor, I was blown away. But now I wonder if that percentage is even higher!

This tragedy was similar to so many others. The ex-husband was exposed as a young child and never overcame his addiction to Internet pornography. (I know women also suffer with this addiction, but I haven’t personally heard of a divorce due to a woman’s addiction.)

Student working on taskI do know people who have overcome this addiction, but it takes a deep level of commitment, constant study, work and acceptance that life will never be “normal.” Giving up porn may mean the addict can never own a smartphone or other mobile device. They may need to shield themselves from most movies and TV shows and avoid shopping at the mall. Their spouse may always need to keep the password to their computer. I can see how humiliating it could be, and I’m grateful to know that some are willing to do whatever it takes to save their marriage.

I also know of people who lost everything dear to them (marriage, family relationships with their kids, even careers) and took the addiction with them to their grave.

How does pornography affect marriage?

Dr. Jill Manning lists 21 negative effects of porn in her book What’s the Big Deal About Pornography? Here are ten that can negatively affect marriage:

  1. Increased risk of developing unhealthy views about sexuality
  2. Increased risk of getting involved in sexual behavior that is risky, unhealthy or illegal (hiring prostitutes, for example)
  3. Increased risk of experiencing difficulties in intimate relationships
  4. Increased risk of becoming violent or aggressive
  5. Increased risk of becoming sexually abusive toward others
  6. Decreased trust in your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse
  7. Increased risk of believing long-term relationships are not even realistic
  8. Increased risk of believing there is nothing wrong with being sexually active with someone you have no emotional involvement with or commitment to
  9. Increased risk of becoming sexually dissatisfied with your future spouse
  10. Increased risk of cheating on your spouse once you’re married

Saving Future Marriages

Last year, before we published Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, I was at a writer’s retreat in the beautiful Northwest and met author Ramona Zabriskie, who had just published an excellent book on marriage. As I told her about my work in pornography addiction prevention she literally got goose bumps and with wide eyes said,

“I am trying to save today’s marriages, but YOU are going to save tomorrow’s marriages!”

Of course, I’m not going to save them. Porn-proof kids are going to be better prepared to save their own marriages. Since then we’ve collaborated on a very informative webinar hosted by Ramona (which you should all listen to–we cover prevention strategies and also hear from a young woman who has worked with her husband in overcoming his addiction to porn which began at the age of five).

Porn-Proof = Better Marriage

0167I fervently believe that porn-proof kids have a much better chance at succeeding in their future marriages than those who bring a third partner–their pornography addiction–into their relationship.

I am feeling quite passionate about this today! Please don’t let your kids face this danger alone because you fear you’re taking away their innocence. They are already targeted in the cross-hairs of the porn industry! They need a defense strategy in place before they get hit.

The Good News

You can empower your children! Kids can learn to defend themselves against porn if they are educated.

young boy thinkingOne more radical opinion. I do not believe that children have the full ability to choose until they have been taught the consequences of their choices. A curious child that is caught off guard by pornography without knowing how or why to turn away does not really have a free and clear choice to reject it. And more often than you realize, their innocence will be stolen from them because they didn’t know any better.

OK, I’m done for today. But if you hear a scream coming all the way through the Internet, it’s me finding out that one more marriage has been destroyed by pornography.

Do you want to contribute to future healthy marriages? Please share PornProof Kids with your friends and family! We’d also love you to LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PornProofKids. Thank you!

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5 Back to School Tips for Porn-Immune Kids

back to school tips

A parent’s nightmare

An innocent kindergartner gets on a school bus to ride home. A third-grader approaches her, holds up a smartphone and says, “Look at this!” What the little girl sees is hard core porn. This story came from a middle class neighborhood in Boise, Idaho, but it can happen anywhere.

How does this little girl react? Will she tell her parents? Will she be scarred for life? Much of that depends on what she’s been taught and how well she’s been prepared.

Back to school time is exciting for kids and parents. New teachers, new friends, new notebooks! A new beginning. But let’s not kid ourselves about the risks. As mobile devices flourish, the risk skyrockets for young kids to be exposed to Internet pornography.

Here’s what you can do.

mom talking with daughter in park1. Define pornography—don’t assume kids know what it is 

I know this sounds basic, but even if kids hear the word pornography, they probably don’t know what it means unless you define it for them.

Jill Manning, PhD, in her book What’s the Big Deal About Pornography? (p. 1-2), relates the experience of a dad who took his 13-year-old son to a presentation about the effects of pornography. On the drive home, his son turned to him and asked, “So what is pornography, anyway?” Even after an hour-long presentation, even after being exposed to it while doing homework, this boy had not make the connection. Dr. Manning advises:

“Being clear on what pornography is and how to recognize it is the first step to protecting ourselves.”

Want some help on defining pornography for young kids? Check out How to Define Pornography for a Seven-Year Old.

2. Ask your kids to tell you if they ever see it

For whatever reason, kids often don’t tell their parents when they’ve been exposed to pornography.

Jill Manning, PhD, tells about her own unsettling exposure to a centerfold while playing at a friend’s home when she was eight. She immediately called her mom and asked to come home, but never told a soul.

“When I consider the kinds of images young people today encounter upon their first exposure to pornography, I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I had seen something more graphic…A pornography problem often starts with an innocent curiosity about something seen or heard—and then it can quickly lead to a twisted appetite for more graphic and harmful images.” (What’s the Big Deal about Pornography?, pp. 12-13)

For more ideas on getting your kids to tell you when they’ve been exposed to porn, check out 3 Reasons Kids Keep (Dangerous) Secrets.

iStock_000016807015Small3. After school, ask your kids what they’ve seen or been shown on the Internet that day

No nagging. Just bring it up in conversation. You might even share something you’ve seen or heard about online. This is all about teaching accountability.

“Hey, I saw the most amazing dance video on Facebook today. Aunt Vicki shared it with me. You’ll have to see it! What did you see online today?”

 

4. Password protect all of your mobile devices, install filters for the Wi-Fi in your home

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of young kids accessing porn from the family iPad or a parent’s iPhone. But it’s totally understandable! Kids grow up fast and the need to put a password on devices just sneaks up on you!

Recently, an article in the Deseret News National told the story of on an eight-year-old girl who was viewing hard core porn videos with her friend in her playroom closet. Once her parents found out (from the friend’s mother who called and told them what had been going on), the dad immediately password protected that iPad!

Go a step further and make sure your kids’ friends don’t bring it in on their devices. Install a filter that works on the level of your router to block inappropriate content no matter whose device is trying to access it. This article has some good information to get you started.

5. Confiscate (temporarily) all mobile devices when kids come over to play

Kids don’t need personal mobile devices to play in my humble yet correct opinion. Some parents make a rule that all incoming friends drop their mobile phones in a basket on the kitchen counter.

My neighbor’s son just had a birthday and his parents allowed a few select friends to come over for a sleepover. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend sleepovers.) These boys wanted to sleep out in their very cool playhouse and when they were settled, dad came out and said, with a smile on his face, “If I find any electronics on any of you, you are going home immediately.” A Kindle was quickly handed over! And guess what, they all still had a great time!

This is all part of tech etiquette. Read more here about establishing your own family’s rules.

 

GPBP_30

It’s truly sad that we have to work so hard to protect our kids. But this is the silver lining: As we talk to our kids, check in with them and empower them, we actually get closer and form a more trusting relationship. United we stand, divided we fall. Nothing is more true than this when dealing with the invasion of pornography.

Do you have friends or family who could use some help porn-proofing their kids?

Let them know about Porn-Proof Kids!

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Click on the poster below to subscribe to our blog and we’ll send you a FREE downloadable poster of the 5-point CAN DO Plan featured in our book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. It’s a great reminder for kids of the empowering information they learned when you read them Good Pictures Bad Pictures!

 

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3 Reasons Kids Keep (Dangerous) Secrets

Note: This is my 100th post! Yay! OK, I just needed everyone to know. Hey, if you’re looking for a reason to indulge in chocolate or, even better, ice cream, go ahead and celebrate with me!

3 Reasons Kids Keep SecretsWhy Do Kids Keep Secrets from Their Parents?

In an ideal world, kids would automatically tell their parents everything that troubled or embarrassed them, like being exposed to pornography. But the truth is, they often don’t. And in this world of mobile devices spewing graphic content, social media bullying, online child predators trolling innocent video games (need I go on?), it can be dangerous for kids to keep secrets.

Is Anyone Home?

One day, when I was six or seven years old, I went a few houses down our street to see if my friends could play. Their front door was slightly ajar and I rang the doorbell. When no one answered, I decided it would be a good idea (???!!!) to go inside and look for them. I searched throughout the house for my friends, but no one was home. As (bad) luck would have it, just as I came out of the front door, the family drove up. “What were you doing in our house?” my friend yelled. It was at that moment I realized I must have done something terribly wrong. I didn’t stay to answer her question; I simply bolted for home, feeling scared and confused. I was so ashamed. I didn’t want to tell anyone.

Who did I finally confess to? My oldest sister. She had noticed I wasn’t my usual perky self and asked me what was wrong. After she assured me that I’d feel better after I told someone, I fessed up. And guess what? I did feel better!

Be Specific: It’s a Confusing World

As parents, it’s helpful to remember that young kids are still learning to navigate a very confusing world. They don’t know all the rules yet. They don’t know how to respond to the many new situations they face. Especially ones in their online neighborhood that are embarrassing and troubling (and potentially dangerous).

I didn’t know that entering my neighbor’s house to look for my friends was wrong when I was that young. And I had no idea that I could get relief from my shame by telling my sister what had happened. I had to be taught that.

Take away? Remind your kids that they can and should come and tell you when they feel embarrassed or upset for any reason. (Or if they ever see pornography.)

“You Can Tell Me Anything

iStock_000009923484SmallHere’s how one mom used an upsetting experience to bring this message home. She and her two sons, ages four and seven, were at an indoor trampoline park. Her youngest came running over and told her, “There’s a boy kissing everyone over there!” When her older son came back from that same area, she asked him, “What’s going on over there?” At first he hesitated and said, “Nothing.” Knowing that something was amiss, this wise mom took a moment to assure her son that he could tell her anything, and gently encouraged him to trust her. Only then did he tell her about the boy who was going around kissing everyone and making the kids feel uncomfortable.

Why the hesitation?

I believe there are three main reasons why kids keep their feelings of embarrassment or shame from their parents.

1. Kids need to be coached to confide in you

I believe kids need to be coached when it comes to confiding in parents and reporting embarrassing experiences. They need to hear over and over again that you want and expect them to come and tell you when others (including friends or family) act inappropriately. Or when they themselves have done something they’re not sure was appropriate (hey, we all make mistakes). Promise them you won’t freak out and they’ll feel better. (You can imagine how a secret is a huge burden for a young child to carry.)

GPBP_19SmallOur concerned mom in Good Pictures Bad Pictures specifically asks her young son to come and tell her if he ever sees pornography. And she reassures him that he won’t get into trouble when he does.

I believe kids need to hear this kind of specific encouragement on a regular basis.

2. Kids are afraid

Kids’ fears can overcome their common sense. Their feeling brain often rules their thinking brain. And fear can inspire, well, fear.

worried boyThe little boy in the story above might have been afraid of his mom’s reaction or overreaction. He sensed that this other boy’s behavior (kissing everyone) didn’t feel right, but he just wasn’t sure how to react. Would his mom scold him for not protecting his little brother, for not coming and telling her sooner? Would his mom make them leave early or, worse, never bring them to the trampoline park again?

My advice? Keep reassuring your kids that they can tell you anything. And when they do, praise them. And try not to overreact.

Want your kids to share their feelings with you? Read this post on emotional awareness for some practical tips.

3. Kids don’t want to lose their technology

girl-using-iphone-844616-tabletAccording to Donna Rice Hughes, President and CEO of Enough is Enough, a non-profit organization dedicated to Internet safety, when it comes to reporting porn exposure, one of the major reasons kids don’t tell their parents is because they’re afraid they’ll be grounded from using their iPads, smartphones, video games or from going online. I attended a teleconference interview of Ms. Hughes and learned that she advises parent not to completely ban kids from using technology or the Internet, but to train them how to use it and avoid its dangers. Their website InternetSafety101.org is a great place for parents to find good information about a range of online safety issues.

Now it’s your turn!

I’ve listed three reasons why kids are afraid to share their secrets with their parents. Can you think of any others? Thanks for joining the conversation! I love to read your comments!

 

 

Two Levels of Internet Safety: One Mom’s Advice on Filters

Our kids need every defensive tool against pornography that we can provide and Internet filtering is one of the basics. Marisa Corless is passionate about being a mom and providing her kids with the best childhood possible. She’s an avid researcher on topics concerning child-rearing and today we get her take on Internet filtering. 

One Mom’s Advice on Internet Safety

By Marisa Corless

marisa corlessTo provide Internet safety, most parents use some sort of software that is loaded onto their computer. This is a great first start, but what about the other mobile devices like tablets, mp3 players, and game consoles that also access the Internet and can be used to browse? What about the devices that come into the home with a friend? They too need a filter.

Two Levels of Filters

  1. On my home network, I use two filters. I use an Internet filter on ALL computers. No one needs to see pornography and if a site is miscategorized, as I have found on occasion when I have tried to access a known site, the parent can override and white-list  that particular site (i.e. add it to the filter’s list of safe sites). Peace of mind is worth more than the inconvenience of having to unblock or override occasionally.
  2. Beyond filtering all computers, I run a filter on my router. I personally use OpenDNS Home*. The free version allows for customization and filtering at the level you desire, as parents. Upgrading to the Home VIP plan, which costs $19.95 per year, allows for more thorough reports on internet usage.

two girls with cell phoneHow does it work?

OpenDNS changes the IP address of the existing router and filters incoming traffic before it ever leaves the router. In this way, all devices are filtered. A major positive is that unlike many device specific Internet filters, OpenDNS does not slow down internet access. I really appreciate that. And even though I have parental controls enabled on various Internet accessible devices, those controls don’t actually filter the internet most of the time, but OpenDNS will.

I also appreciate that if a friend accesses my internet with an unfiltered device, my router will filter the Internet for that device.

Beyond Filters

One caveat–no filter is 100%.  And you can’t assume your kids will be protected when they leave your home for other activities. That’s why you need to talk with your kids about  Internet safety—the good, the bad and the ugly.

I am really grateful that Kristen A. Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner, and the rest of the PornProof Kids team, worked so hard over the past several years to write a read aloud book (Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids) to help parents talk to their children about Internet safety. It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when; and when kids are exposed to pornographic images, they need to be prepared with tools to handle the situation so it doesn’t take hold and dominate their lives.

Marisa Corless is a wife and homeschooling mother of five amazing kids, master herbalist, scout leader, home school co-op co-chair and mentor, and very part time karate Sensei. 

*Note: Marisa’s product recommendations are her own; PornProof Kids receives no compensation for promoting any filtering products. Neither does Marisa receive any compensation for her blog post or endorsement of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

SMART Parents Make a Plan to Address Pornography Exposure

This is the third in a six-article series to help parents respond to a child’s accidental porn exposure or purposeful seeking it out. The first article in the series is Your Child Has Viewed Porn, Now What? 5 SMART Tips for Parents.

business woman teacher with glasses and a suit with chalk   at aThe SMART Plan

  • Stay calm
  • Make a plan
  • Assist your child to sort out their feelings
  • Regularly check in with your kids
  • Train your family

Make a Plan

Before you talk with your child about their exposure to pornography, make a plan about what you want to accomplish. What are your ultimate goals? Some of them might be:

  • To continue building a close relationship with your child
  • To provide a safe environment for them to tell you what they saw and ask questions
  • To come up with some mutual solutions for keeping your child safe

Jeffrey J. Ford, a Marriage and Family Licensed Therapist who specializes in pornography addiction, explains that “much of the time initial disclosure begins the process of getting the whole story, and is rarely the whole story!” I know of one young man who initially said he had looked at porn only five times. His mom was relieved, but later found out that he had been viewing porn regularly for years.

Serious talkConsider ways to get your child to open up and answer the following questions.

  • How much pornography have they seen?
  • How often have they viewed it?
  • How did they find it? Did someone else show it to them?
  • Which devices have they used to view it?
  • What types of pornography have they viewed?
  • Did they masturbate when they were viewing it? (This brings it to a higher level of involvement. Masturbating to pornography builds and solidifies a neurological pathway in the brain.)

Realize, you may not get all of these questions answered in one session. Be patient and you’ll ultimately end up getting more information as your child feels safe trusting you with his/her answers.

Family fishingOne Father’s Story

The authors of So Sexy So Soon; The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., describe a situation where an eight and a half year old boy is exposed to pornography and tells his dad about it. The boy instinctively knows he should not have seen what he saw and, although he has a good relationship with his dad who has answered questions about sex since the boy was five, he worries that his dad will be mad at him.

The dad asks him what he saw and then explains that, “[S]ome grown-ups like to look at pictures of bodies with no clothes and sex, but it’s not something…mom or I like to do, and it’s not something for children to see, and I don’t think grown-ups should have things like that on the Internet that children can find.”

In this way, the dad is expressing his values that he believes pornography is wrong.

The dad then asks what his son could have done when his friend offered to show him the “sexy pictures.” This is the kind of “give and take” conversations that Levin and Kilbourne recommend. Not jumping in and imposing limits or punishments, but forming a mutual plan with the child.

Punishment or Opportunity?

Sombre futureIn this story, the parents of the perpetrator friend find out that he’s been viewing pornography and react by punishing him and taking away all of his “screen time” for a month. The authors explain,

“By focusing only on setting limits and giving punishments, [his friend’s] parents miss a crucial opportunity to help [their son] deal with the pornography he saw and to influence the lessons he is learning. Their response also teaches [their son] that it’s not safe to talk to his parents about sexual issues.”

It may be that that in the long-run it’s more helpful to focus on the reasons your child was looking at pornography, instead of doling out a punishment.

mom talking with sonAs you are planning your response to your child’s porn exposure, think about:

  • The information you want to discover
  • How you are going to deal with the source of the pornography exposure (talk to the perpetrator’s parents, advise the school, tighten filters etc)
  • How you are going to involve your child in mutual solutions (“How can we help you to protect yourself from seeing these harmful and upsetting pictures?”)

In my next post, we’ll talk about how you can assist your child to sort out their feelings about the pornography they have seen. It’s not only upsetting, but it’s very confusing for kids when they view the kind of hard core pornography that is so available on the Internet. They need their parents’ help to figure it out.

Here’s the next article in this series: Porn is Tricky! SMART Parents Assist Kids to Understand Feelings

Your Child Has Viewed Porn, Now What? 5 SMART Tips for Parents

Shocked woman pointing at her digital-tablet.If you discover your child has already viewed Internet pornography, the way you respond can make a big difference. It’s totally worth the effort to help keep your kids safe online by planning for an occurrence that has become all too common.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids report porn exposure

When I asked dozens of parents to “beta-test” our new book Good Pictures Bad Pictures; Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids, they often reported finding out that their kids had already viewed pornography (but had never told their parents).

Our beta-tester parents often discovered this when they read to their child the following paragraph from Chapter 1:

Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase

“Many kids see it by accident on computers, phones, or other devices. Sometimes kids are shown pornography by another person—even by a friend or family member. Has that ever happened to you?”

TIP: Explaining that pornography exposure happens to other children as well, and is even perpetrated by friends and family members, makes kids more comfortable confiding in their parents about their own experience.

Eye-opening Note: Expert Jill C. Manning, PhD, read an early draft of Good Pictures Bad Pictures and strongly recommended we add in “or family member.” :-(

How you find out matters

There are two different porn discovery scenarios which evoke strong but different emotions from parents:

  1. You find out your child has been viewing porn in secret, or
  2. Your child accidentally views pornography and tells you (either voluntarily or when you ask)

Be SMART!

How do you respond when you find out your child has viewed pornography? Just be SMART!

  • Stay calm
  • Make a plan
  • Assist your kids to sort out their feelings
  • Regularly check in with your kids
  • Train your family

SMART momEach of these SMART steps holds essential keys to porn-proofing your child, and I will cover each in depth in the next several weeks.

But today I’d like to share with you a friend’s discovery story that is becoming quite common: mom finds porn on the iPad.

Caught off guard

Last year, my friend Tricia called me on the phone. She was sobbing and could hardly talk. All I could understand was that she needed me to come NOW. I rushed over and knocked on the door, then rang the doorbell. No answer. I was almost freaking out myself!  Finally, I let myself into her home and followed the sobbing sounds into her master bathroom. There I found my sweet friend beyond upset. I hugged her and, when she finally calmed down enough to talk, she told me she had found pornography links on her child’s iPad. I’ll let her tell the rest of her story here.

Thankfully, she was SMART. She calmed down, got educated and made a plan with her husband to assist their kids and train the entire family to avoid this problem.

Family playing with Tablet computer at homeParenting has always been the hardest job in the world, but then Internet porn came along and made it even harder! In the next several weeks of SMART posts, I hope to make your job easier. At least, I hope to offer clarity and some solutions for helping a child who has been exposed to or even developed a habit of viewing pornography.

Do you have any questions I can answer about responding to a child’s porn exposure? Please share them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them in the upcoming weeks. Thank you!

Here’s the next article in the series: SMART Parents Stay Calm

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The Porn Talk: Five Tips Every Parent Needs to Know

Family playing with Tablet computer at homeTo help keep kids safe online, every parent needs to warn and educate their kids about the dangers of pornography. If they don’t, kids are left to the predatory wolves of the porn industry who are looking to create an addicted customer for life.

Here are five of my best tips to get you started.

  1. Get comfortable with your topic. Educate yourself and leave shame behind. Pornography entices kids by activating a very normal and strong part of their brain—their sexual center. For a child to be curious about seeing naked people is totally normal. However, they aren’t able to foresee the damage down the road, and shame only makes pornography more addictive.two girls with cell phone
  2. Start early. As soon as your kids have any access at all to the Internet, you need to give them some simple warnings about “bad pictures.” They need to know you expect them to tell you of any exposure so you can help them stay safe.
  3. Keep talking. Don’t have ONE BIG TALK and then never say another word. This will overwhelm the child and may lead them to go to other sources for clarification. Make talking about pornography a natural part of discussing other negative influences and challenges they meet. This should be an on-going conversation which progressively gives your child more and more information as they grow up. A six year old may not be able to understand how pornography “objectifies” people or normalizes sexual harm or supports sex trafficking, but a 12-year-old can.
  4. Unmask the lies told by pornography about sex. Teach kids that the true purpose of sex is to bond two people who love and trust each other and are committed to their relationship. It should be loving, kind, respectful and honest. In other words, the same traits that you desire in any relationship! But pornography teaches just the opposite: Sex is for exploiting or taking advantage of another person for your own selfish pleasure; violence and rape are normalized and portrayed as enjoyable for women; and unprotected sex has no ill consequences like sexually transmitted infections, physical damage and emotional scarring. These lies about sex are hurting our kids’ future ability to develop a healthy sexual relationship in their future with someone they love and respect.
  5. Click on image to purchase

    Click on image to purchase

    Give your kids a specific plan to deal with pornography exposure. Help them know exactly and immediately what they must do when they see bad pictures. Teach them how to minimize the shocking memories of pornography that are hard to forget. Many children see porn and never say a word; in fact, in my opinion, NOT telling their parents is the norm. But these images keep dogging them and may entice kids to go looking for more. My new book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, that I co-authored with Dr. Gail Poyner, has a simple to remember CAN DO plan that arms kids to reject and deal with pornography exposure. It’s probably the most powerful part of the book!

mom talking with 11 year old sonStart talking with your kids while they still see you as a credible source of information. Be proactive in shaping their attitudes about healthy sexual relationships and their counterfeits in the media and online.

Any amount of time you invest in this will bring you excellent returns in your child’s future happiness.

Do you feel comfortable talking to your kids about pornography? What has helped you overcome your hesitations? Please leave a comment!

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