Straight Talk Advice

May 26, 2010

Teach your children well…  about sex, porn, love

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: Your columns make me concerned for my son and daughter, ages 9 and 7, respectively. Their father and I divorced over his pornography habit. I hope my son doesn’t grow up to objectify girls and that my daughter won’t give a guy oral sex just because he takes her to dinner. I’m not an abstinence-only fanatic, but I do want my kids to reserve sex for a meaningful, mature relationship. What is the best approach to ensure they will value themselves in today’s sexualized world? — Phoenix, Ariz.

Jessie 17, Ashland, Ore. Ask me a question

Jessie, 17, Ashland, Ore.: Raise kids to respect their bodies and take pride in themselves so they are secure. Then even if “everybody else is doing it,” they won’t feel the need to hand out “party favors.” It worked for me. It’s worthwhile to shield children from internet porn, but they will stumble onto it. Unless you make them feel safe to discuss it, you won’t know.

Nicole 20, Grass Valley, Calif. Ask me a question

Teach your children through your actions. If you bring multiple men home, your daughter will probably do the same. However, your son likely won’t give in to the porn habit after seeing the negative side.

Katelyn 15, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

I’d keep my children away from porn. I was taught to save sex for marriage as the “ultimate present.” Promiscuity usually means a person is insecure.

Vanessa 22, Galt, Calif. Ask me a question

Time goes fast so use wisely the time you spend together. Above all, teach them respect for themselves and others. Teach them confidence. Discourage a closed mind. As far as porn goes, it should be included in the sex talk.

Scot 23, San Luis Obispo, Calif. Ask me a question

My parents set an example of seeing the inherent value in others. An open line of communication is also a big asset. Sorry to break it to you, but porn is here. It is mainstream. Not everyone who watches it becomes addicted or thinks differently of women in real life. I know many successful people in stable relationships who watch porn. Including women.

Molly 18, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

Kids are bombarded with sexual messages so establish safe open dialogue about sex early on. Many parents are so neurotically against sex their teens won’t talk to them, so make sure you advocate for mature sex (as opposed to no sex). Be the parent they know will forgive them for a mistake. If they feel you are open to their side of the story they’ll be more open to yours. In sex-ed classes, there is little on how damaging sex can be before you’re ready, or if you’re pressured into it, so tell them about this. Definitely keep porn out of the house. I keep my internet browser on medium censorship which censors any porn I might run into. They will be exposed though, so talk about what is sexually healthy — in contrast to how warped and unhealthy porn is.

DEAR PHOENIX: It’s fact that parents who are heavily involved in their children’s lives from early-on, who talk things through and reason with them, giving them the safety, expecting them, even, to negotiate and question in return, have more successful offspring than parents who let children grow up as they may. If you don’t include moral guidance about sex, porn and love in these conversations, the media will. The average kid sees hard-core internet porn at 11. Soft-core is ubiquitous in popular movies and songs. Porn is definitely mainstream — and hotly defended by many. But so were cigarettes in their day. Divorces over porn are rapidly rising. Today’s porn is doing to sex lives what fast food did to bodies. It blasts them with empty calories while starving true intimacy. Be vigilant about blocking it from your home electronics and explain why.

Editor’s Web Note: The sex industry has, well, industrialized sex. Sexual intimacy is reduced to body parts (most of them surgically enhanced). Porn is the great desensitizer. What used to stimulate no longer does. College-age men, part of the “pill generation” are using Viagra in record numbers to be “more masculine” and perform “up to standards.” Walk into any dive bar and girl-girl action is common, not because the women are bi or gay, but because they think it’s needed to attract men. With the porn industry pervading every aspect of life: TV, the computer, and now cell phones, it’s a constant challenge to let kids grow up with a porn-free point of reference from childhood. What’s at risk? Nothing less than the capacity for sexual satisfaction and intimacy — one of the things, at the end of the day, that makes life worth it. No wonder everybody’s depressed. Porn is wrecking sex. — Lauren

  1. By Geoff , age , from Redding, CA, USA on 05/26/2010

    The movie industry has, well, cannibalized books. Textual intimacy is reduced to moving/flashy parts (most of them 3D enhanced). Movies are the great desensitizer. What used to stimulate no longer does. College-age men, part of the “movie generation” are seeing films in record numbers to be “more masculine” and been seen as normal. Walk into any theater and people are there, not because they actually enjoy films, but because they want to fit in. With the movie industry pervading every aspect of life: TV, the computer, and now cell phones, it’s a constant challenge to let kids grow up with a movie-free point of reference from childhood. What’s at risk? Nothing less than the capacity for literacy, reader satisfaction and textual intimacy — one of the things, at the end of the day, that makes life worth it. No wonder everybody’s depressed. Movies are wrecking books. — Geoff

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  2. By anonymous, age , from Woodland, CA on 05/26/2010

    I agree that parents should try to see to it that their teenagers don’t look at porn, but it’s easier said than done.  I’m a 16 year old girl with a twin brother.  Our dad was into porn and it was one of the main reasons our parents divorced.  My brother and I still have to share a room because our mom can only afford 2 bedrooms.  We have a computer in our room which was hard to afford but our mom made it a priority because she feels that we need it for schoolwork.  I’ve seen my brother looking at porn on the Internet when he doesn’t realize I’m looking.  If I come near the computer, he immediately closes the porn site.  It makes me very uncomfortable to be sharing a room with him at our age knowing that he’s into porn.  Since he’s my twin brother, I didn’t use to mind undressing in front of him.  However, about the time I started noticing him looking at porn, he started to seem too interested in looking at me when I’m nude and a few times it looked like he had a boner/erection.  He’s still a good brother to me and has never tried to do anything sexual and I’m confident that he won’t, but the situation still makes me uncomfortable.  I’d like to start changing in the bathroom so that he doesn’t see me naked, but I’m afraid that our mom would notice and get suspicious and start asking questions about why I’m suddenly doing this.  I don’t want to get my brother in trouble by telling our mom, but I really wish he wasn’t looking at porn when I have to share a room with him.

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  3. By Lauren Forcella, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 05/26/2010

    Dear Anonymous,

    You should definitely start changing in the bathroom regardless of whether your brother is watching porn. I get mail like this all the time, usually from the brothers saying they wish their sisters would change in the bathroom and not be nude around them because it does cause arousal even when they don’t want it to and they are not thinking deviant thoughts. In fact, we are doing a column on it shortly as it’s such a common problem. If you feel the need to explain your change in behavior, just say you’re at an age where you want your privacy and leave it at that.

    Regarding your brother watching porn, you have every right to tell him he needs to stop because it makes you uncomfortable and that if he doesn’t you’ll tell your mom.

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  4. By Laurie, age , from Carmichael, CA on 05/26/2010

    You are totally right Lauren.  Anonymous should stop changing in front of her brother today.  She’s 16 for God’s sake! She shouldn’t owe her mom an explanation as to why she isn’t changing in front of her brother any more. If her mom asks, she should just say that at her age she isn’t comfortable anymore.  Her mom certainly should understand.  I also have a brother and our mom is a single parent who can only afford 2 bedrooms, so she and I share a room.  That’s what she should be doing. I can’t imagine sharing a room with my brother, but if I had to, I certainly wouldn’t undress in front of him; that’s crazy, expecially when he’s looking at porn and getting a boner when he sees her naked!

    Laurie

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  5. By T.J., age , from Roseville, CA on 05/27/2010

    What exactly is considered pornography?  My mom found a Playboy when she snooped in my room.  She called it “pornography” and threw it in the garbage and grounded me.  I think the nude pictures in Playboy are tasteful and not degrading to women like some materials are.  A Supreme Court Justice once said that he couldn’t define pornography but said “I know it when I see it!” If a Supreme Court Justice can’t define it, then who can?  I have 2 older sisters and I don’t share a room with them, but they’re casual about nudity around the house and don’t put on a robe when they walk down the hall to take a shower and don’t always close the door to their room when they’re undressed.  They say I’m a “prude” when I say it makes me uncomfortable and say it doesn’t matter since we’re “family.”  Our mom agrees with them and now says what am I complaining about now that she caught me with a Playboy?  Looking at Playboy didn’t cause me to have any sexual interest in my sisters.  If anything, it’s the opposite as I would much rather look at the pictures in Playboy than see my sisters nude.  I think that if they want to be casual about nudity they should do it in their room with the door closed so that I don’t have to see it and they can be nude in front of each other all they want and it doesn’t matter since they’re sisters. 

    T.J.

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  6. By Cindy, age , from Belleview, WA on 05/28/2010

    I completely agree with T.J.  It is totally wrong for his sisters to parade around nude in front of him.  Their mom should be doing something about this if they won’t stop.  Comparing this to his looking a the pictures in Playboy is like mixing apples and oranges.  My sister and I aren’t shy about nudity with each other in the privacy of our bedroom since were sisters and are pretty casual about it.  But we stick to our room with the door closed when we’re nude.  Our brother hasn’t seen us nude since we were maybe 5 or 6 years old and I can’t imagine letting him see us as teenagers.  As for “Anonymous” she should stop undressing in front of her brother immediately! She should have stopped when she started puberty at the very latest and probably long before that like my sister and I did.  Even if they have to share a room, which I think is a very unhealthy situation, there are still ways to avoid having her brother see her nude.

    Cindy

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