Welcome to part 1 of my 3 part series on assessing and addressing pornography use with kids. It won’t be easy when you do, but you’ll be glad you did. Part 1 is about preparing yourself. It’s important for you to be an approachable parent, if you want your children to really keep you in-the-know about what they are up to in any area of their lives. Preparing to be approachable about porn can be difficult to say the least. You can start here with 5 ways to prepare yourself to talk about porn:
1. Get informed. Do some of your own research first. Porn is not the same as it used to be. I’m sure people have been saying that for decades, but seriously, it's not. There is quite a bit of evidence that porn has changed more in the last 10 years (since the advent of high-speed internet), than it has in the last 100 years (1, 2, 3). And before photography? Forget about it! It was incredibly rare to see erotica as it was mostly for nobility and rarely replicated (4). Once we began photographing and taping nudity and people having sex, it was very rare to see that as well. One had to go to a viewing parlor and later, a sex store...which were only located in large cities. It wasn’t until pornography was distributed via the mail that it became a common part of life for some men. And it wasn't until porn was distributed via the internet, that it became a common part of life for men, women, and kids.
The internet has changed the way people use pornography in 3 ways. The internet makes pornography available, because nearly everyone has internet access; the use of pornography has become anonymous, because one can access pornography without anyone else knowing about it; and the internet makes pornography affordable, because one no longer has to spend upwards of 60 dollars on a VHS or DVD as the majority of internet pornography is free (5). This “triple-A engine” is thought to explain why internet pornography use is more prevalent than pornography use through other media in the last decades.
The internet has created easier access to violent and aggressive pornography. Popular porn is no longer the depiction of people having sex on a blanket in the woods, who are roughly the same age, perhaps in their 30s or 40s, full on pubic hair, some belly rolls, floppy breasts. Now, that is called “vintage porn.” Yep. Porn from the 80's and 90’s is vintage! Content analyses (studies where scientists use coders to track frequencies of behaviors displayed in a sample of videos) have revealed that popular pornography has become increasingly more aggressive and violent in the last 20 years (6, 7). The most popular pornography today can be found on the top 5 most frequented porn sites are called “tube sites”. Appropriately named, because they operate just like YouTube. On these sites, everything is all mixed together, threesomes, BDSM, gang bangs, fake rape, bukkae, double penetration, ATM, etc. When pornography was distributed through VHS and DVD, it was difficult to track down anything beyond oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It was even more difficult to find aggressive material and it was very expensive to purchase (8). Now you have to go out of your way to find non-aggressive material.
Stats on kid’s exposure to pornography vary immensely and many studies are quite vague as to what the content of exposure actually is. A nationally representative study reports 40% of teens reported exposure to sexually-explicit content (9), whereas other reports indicate up to 70% of adolescents have been unintentionally exposed to sexually-explicit content (10, 11). Yet a non peer-reviewed source, the Internet Filter Review (2010), reports 90% of 8-10 year olds have seen pornography online.
2. Acknowledge what your relationship to and experience with porn is. It is likely that your introduction to and experience with porn is very different than what your child has or will experience. How old were you? Were you aroused? Did you get “caught”? Did you feel shame for being aroused? I encourage you to get to a comfortable and emotionally neutral place before talking with your child. Regardless of your own perspective on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of porn, if you are intensely emotional, it can create/increase shame. Shame and sex are a toxic combo that too many know all too well. We aren’t shamed into better behaviors. We just become better at keeping those behaviors a secret. It's important for you to get a handle on your own emotions, and put your own experiences in perspective to your kid's before you start talking with him/her about porn.
3. Acknowledge what your relationship to and experience with sex is. Whether you are aware of it or not, your children listen very closely to the messages you send about sexuality (even if those messages are non-verbal). What do you want those messages to be? Do you yourself enjoy sex? At what age did you
begin to enjoy sex? Were you shamed for your sexuality when you were a kid? What would you have wanted your parents to do or say to make you feel comfortable about your sexuality as a kid? Bottom line, be conscious of what you’ve said to your child or what your child has perceived. Talking about sex and
distinguishing sex from porn is crucial for preparing your child for a sexually satisfying future. Parental messages about sex, matter (12). Your emotional reaction to knowledge of their sexual behavior (masturbation or otherwise) could affect the way your child views him/herself as a sexual person. Here is a resource to learn more about talking with kids about sex from me, and another from Advocates for Youth. It's important to be conscious of what you've already said or done that may have created some sexual shame in your children before you talk with them.
4. Assess the level of a child’s porn use the best you can. Depending on how internet savvy you are, you can see what they’ve been up to online, or you can always hire a professional. You can also just ask, but kids and adults are rarely honest about their porn use. It can be alarming to discover your child has been looking at porn, especially if you know the type or extent of their porn use. Yet, it is important for you to remember that their curiosity is normal and this is not necessarily a sign of ‘problem’. It is a sign that your child has sexual desires and interests and deserves to know how to manage the reality of sexual experiences. It is your responsibility to give the right information and emotional support to your children so they can handle sexual experiences with ease and a sense of self-worth. Here are some general “levels” of porn use:
Curiosity. The majority of children access pornography on the internet out of curiosity (10, 11). When they are younger, they may want to know what boys and girls look like naked, or what sex looks like. After puberty, they might be more aroused sexually and develop exploration of how their body reacts and gets turned on.
Masturbation facilitation. At this level, your child has seen porn more than a few times and is intentionally using it to facilitate masturbation. This usually doesn’t happen in younger children, but I’ve talked with parents who have experienced this level of use with their 8-year old.
Risky Use. At this level, your child is seeking out porn despite negative consequences. They may be looking at porn on their phone in risky settings like school, at home with a sibling, on a parent’s tablet, on a friend’s home computer, etc. Or they might be watching porn when they are supposed to be doing homework or sleeping. At this level, the secrecy builds and the fear of “getting caught” adds to the thrill of the experience.
Problematic Use. At this level, your child is using pornography to regulate emotions or has adapted his/her sexual response cycle to porn (13). Some symptoms of this would be having difficulty reaching orgasm without looking at porn, using porn to fall asleep, feeling worse after using porn, thinking about porn when having sex with a romantic partner, and/or getting irritable without using porn for a period of time.
5. Practice discussing your concerns and perspectives. After you’ve become informed, analyzed your own perspective, and have a sense of what your child has already seen, you should practice discussing porn. If you think it is difficult to discuss where babies come from, it will be down-right painful discussing porn. So, it’s best to practice first.
Talk about what you do know to a partner, friend, or relative. Listen to each other’s perspectives and get some advice from people who know your specific situation. You want to wait until you are comfortable enough that you have a positive and caring tone. When discussing sexuality with your children, tone is often more important than content. Practice having a warm and non-judgmental tone. If you go at him/her guns blazing, you can almost guarantee there will be no future conversations.
If you are lucky, your child will ask you about your experiences with pornography and sex and what your perspective is on these topics, so you need to be prepared to answer those questions.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I will provide you with a whole lot of talking points and pointers, so you can have multiple conversations with your child or a child client if you are a practitioner. After that, part 3 will show you steps parents should take to change the tech environment in a household. If you don’t want to miss out: Sign up for my mailing list, follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook.
(1) Cooper, A. (1998). Sexuality and the Internet: Surfing into the new millennium. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 1, 187-193.
(2) Hyde, H. M. (1965). A History of Pornography. London, UK: Heinemann.
(3) Reist, M. T., & Bray, A. (Eds.). (2011). Big porn inc: Exposing the harms of the global pornography industry. North Melbourne: Spinifex Press.
(4) Marcus, S. (1974). The other Victorians: A study of sexuality and pornography in mid-nineteenth-century England. Transaction Publishers.
(5) Cooper, A., Delmonico, D. L., & Burg, R. (2000). Cybersex users, abusers, and compulsives: New findings and implications. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 7, 5-29.
(6) Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and sexual behavior in best-selling pornography videos: A content analysis update. Violence Against Women, 16, 1065-1085.
(7) Brosius, H., Weaver, J., Staab, J. (1993). Exploring the social and sexual “reality” of contemporary pornography. The Journal of Sex Research, 30, 161-17
(8) Sunstein, C. R. (1986). Pornography and the First Amendment. Duke Law Journal, 589-627.
(9) Ybarra M.L., Finkelhor D., Mitchell K.J., & Wolak J. (2009). Associations between blocking, monitoring, and filtering software on the home computer and youth-reported unwanted expose to sexual material online. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 857-869.
(10) Brown J. D., & L'Engle K. L. (2009). X-rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with US early adolescents' exposure to sexually explicit media. Communication Research, 36, 129-138.
(11) Delmonico D., & Griffin E. (2008). Cybersex and the e-teen: What marriage and family therapists should know. Journal off Marital and Family Therapy, 34, 431-444.
(12) Darling, C. A., & Hicks, M. W. (1982). Parental influence on adolescent sexuality: Implications for parents as educators. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 11, 231-245.
(13) Young, K. S. (2008). Internet sex addiction risk factors, stages of development, and treatment. American Behavioral Scientist, 52, 21-37.
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
Before one of my workshops, a mom once told me, “I’m not worried about porn, I check under my son’s mattress all the time, and nothing is ever there.” Suffice it to say, she had a lot to learn. Long gone are the days of finding a Playboy in your brother’s closet or a “dirty movie” in mom or dad’s sock drawer, or sneakily changing the channel to “Skinimax” for 5 minutes at a time, hoping no one comes downstairs to see what you’re up to. Now, kids have access to hundreds of thousands of hours of free porn, and not just “regular porn”, but the kind of stuff that would have taken someone months and lots of $$$$$ to track down prior to the internet.
If you are a parent, you not only have to be prepared to explain basic sexual behavior, but now you might also need to explain bestiality if your kids googles “My Little Ponies”, gang rape if your kid googles “The Big Bang”, and same-sex orgies if your kid googles “Dicks” trying to find the website for Dick’s Sporting Goods. In response to this conundrum, it seems that the culture’s reaction to teens using internet porn is that of moral panic or naïve resignation. Neither perspective is contributing to much-needed progress toward preparing our youth for safe and pleasurable sexual experiences across their lifespan.
As a developmental and prevention scientist, I believe in trusting and using evidence-based programs for behavior-change. However, as a sex educator, I know that we cannot wait 5-10 years for a truly evidence-based program that prevents internet-related sexual problems in children. As a result, I cover specific steps parents, counselors, and teachers can take to assess and address pornography use among youth from a positive sexuality perspective, in order to foster sexual and romantic competency in our youth. I’ve put these steps together from evidence-based parent-child sexual health interventions. Over the next 3 blog posts, I will package this information in such a way that is specific enough for you to know exactly what you should do, but variable enough to apply the steps to boys, girls, older kids, younger kids, and kids at different stages of sexual experience. Here is how it will be broken down:
Part 1: Preparing yourself to assess and address pornography use with youth. This blog post will teach how to get ready both intellectually and emotionally to broach the subject, how to assess the extent to which the child is using porn, and practice what you will say and how you will react.
Part 2: What to say and do during (multiple) conversations about pornography and sexuality. I’m not a fan of “the talk”, when it comes to sex or porn. Sexuality and pornography are way too complex for 1 conversation. This blog post will provide multiple talking points with links to supporting information and even kid-friendly resources to explain what porn is, how it is different from sex, and how one should navigate real sexual experiences and keep the porn experiences in perspective.
Part 3: Changing the tech environment. This post will teach you how to change a household dynamic so that everyone isn’t glued to the internet all day long. I will also cover what types of monitoring software you should install, how to get kids to think about their “cyber-self”, and how to draw boundaries around internet use. In this post, you will also learn how parents can give children the respect and privacy they deserve as sexual beings. These steps are meant to help parents demonstrate that the internet is a public place, the majority of internet content is not meant for kids, kids need privacy to figure out their sexual selves, but ultimately adults should monitor online behavior until kids are adults and can choose their own online activities.
If you don’t want to miss out, sign up for my mailing list here:
Or, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.
Get ready to foster some sex savvy kids!
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
You may be thinking your kids are downloading apps because they are just a simple way for them to keep in contact with their friends. This is certainly true for most kids, but unfortunately, even innocent use of most of these apps can land a kid in a situation he/she never intended to be in. Here are some apps that are popular among kids and why they are potentially problematic for them:
1. Tinder: An app that is used for hooking-up and dating. Users can rate profiles and find potential hook-ups via GPS location tracking. 450 million profiles are rated every day! The good news is, this app pulls information from user’s Facebook profiles, so it is more authenticated than other apps.
Problem: It is easy for adults and minors to find one another.
2. Snapchat: This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “destructs” after the allotted time.
Problem: It is the #1 app used for sexting, mostly because people think it is the safer way to sext. However, the “snaps” can easily be recovered & the receiver can take a screen shot and share it with others. Also, a lot of images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn”.
3. Blendr: A flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. You can send messages, photos, videos, rate the hotness of other users, etc.
Problem: There are no authentication requirements, so sexual predators can contact minors, minors can meet up with adults. And again, the sexting.
4. Kik Messenger: An instant messaging app with over 100 million users that allows users to exchange videos, pics, and sketches. Users can also send YouTube videos and create memes & digital gifs.
Problem: Kids use the app for sexting and sending nude selfies through the app is common. The term “sext buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy”. Kids use Reddit and other forum sites to place classified ads for sex by giving out their Kik usernames. Also, Kik does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.
5. Whisper: Whisper is an anonymous confession app. It allows users to superimpose text over a picture in order to share their thoughts and feelings anonymously. However, you post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can also search for users posting within a mile from you.
Problem: Due to the anonymity, kids are posting pics of other kids with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Also, users do not have to register to use Whisper and can use the app to communicate with other users nearby through GPS. A quick look at the app and you can see that online relationships are forming through the use of this app, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. Sexual predators also use the app to locate kids and establish a relationship. One man in Seattle, Washington was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this app in 2013.
6. Ask.fm: Ask.fm is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site that allows users to ask other users questions while remaining anonymous.
Problem: Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyber-bullying. Ask.fm has been associated with 9 documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K.
7. Yik Yak: An app that allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking.
Problem: Users are exposed to and are contributing sexually explicit content, derogatory language, and personal attacks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.
8. Poof: This app allows users to make other apps “disappear” on their phone. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see by opening the app and selecting other apps.
Problem: It’s obvious, right? Luckily, you can no longer purchase this app. But, if it was downloaded before it became unavailable, your child may still have it. Keep in mind that these types of apps are created and then terminated quickly, but similar ones are continuously being created. Others to look for: Hidden Apps, App Lock, and Hide It Pro.
9. Omegle: This app is primarily used for video chatting. When you use Omegle, you do not identify yourself through the service. Instead, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger”. However, you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests. When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook “likes” and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes.
Problem: Sexual predators use this app to find kids to collect personal information from in order to track them down more easily in person.
10. Down: This app, which used to be called Bang with Friends, is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: They can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they’d like to hang with or someone they are “down” to hook-up with.
Problem: Although identifying someone you are willing to hook-up with doesn’t mean you will actually hook-up with them, it creates a hook-up norm within a peer group. Depending on your sexual values, this might be something you don’t want for your child. Also, because of the classification system, a lot of kids will feel left out or unwanted, which can lead to anxiety, etc.
The most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your children from dangers that are associated with the use of these apps is to talk with them frequently about their social lives. You can start by establishing yourself as an approachable parent and talking with them early and often about sexuality and romantic relationships. Without a strong bond and open communication, trying to regulate and monitor internet use won’t be very effective. However, setting technology boundaries (when and where they access the internet) and monitoring their online behavior can be effective if you have a strong foundation to build on. You can access a list of monitoring software I recommend here. Just remember to keep on top of it, there is no software that can eliminate risk or the need to parent. Ultimately, your goal is to raise an individual who can manage his/her online and offline behavior in a healthy way because he/she wants to. The process starts with you nurturing a strong emotional bond, leading by example, and setting the boundaries. You can do it!
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
I’ve been getting requests from parents over the past year, to write a post about talking to kids about sexuality. It really is impossible to boil down all the relevant information a parent needs to talk about sexuality with their kids into a single blog post for several reasons: 1. Each child is going to require different discussions at different points throughout childhood; 2. You wouldn’t emphasize all the same points to a girl as you would a boy or a child that is struggling with their gender identity; 3. You wouldn’t approach discussions about sexuality with a wallflower child as you would a social butterfly; 4. If your child has experienced sexual abuse, he/she would need different care that this post cannot address; 5. If your child is a sexual minority he/she is going to need some different conversations than a heterosexual child. However, there are some basics that everyone at any age can handle. There are also some points that I like to emphasize that are rarely if ever emphasized in standardized sexuality education programs or even parent-child communication programs. I also believe these points can be made regardless of the sexual values you have for your family. Here are a few “tip of the iceberg” pointers:
Teach the anatomically correct language for genitals. I’m always surprised at how many adults don’t think their children should say “vagina” or “penis” (1, 2). These words need to be said with the same ease as “elbow” and “ear”. Genitals are just as much a part of the body as fingers, toes, heart, and brain. There really should be no blushing from anyone. If you are still in blush mode, play a little game I like to call Dramatic Anatomy!Perpetrators of sexual violence against children sniff this discomfort out-BIG TIME. If a child refers to their genitals as a “wee-wee” or something else absurd like “down there”, a perpetrator knows that child will be less likely to tell an adult if someone has touched her inappropriately (3). By age 3, your child should know the proper language for his body parts and what is “safe touching” and “un-safe touching”. You can find books to help facilitate these conversations here. My favorite book for little ones is Amazing You!
By age 7, your child should know the mechanics of reproduction through sexual intercourse. Your child should know how a baby is made the old fashioned way (sperm meets egg) as well as how babies are born in our hearts (through adoption) or through surrogacy, etc. Take her lead on it, if she asks, answer her honestly. This is the age where kids are most likely to hear about sex from their friends, so you want to make sure you’ve established yourself as an approachable parent who has already informed him, so he goes to you (before his friends) with sex questions he has in the future. My favorite books to help facilitate these conversations are It’s Not the Stork! and It’s so Amazing! You can find them here.
Teach your child sexual agency. Whether boy or girl, 2 or 12, teach your child that her body is her own. No one, not even you, can tell him what to do with his body, what feels good, what is right for him, etc. You can begin instilling this concept at a young age by not making your child hug or kiss a relative that she doesn’t want to. Agency helps with the prevention of sexual abuse, rape, and the promotion of sexual health (3, 4). The mantra of “boys will be boys” and “he was thinking with his other head” takes the agency away from his actions and therefore the responsibility away from his actions. Teach your son he is responsible for his body and what he does with his body. It is completely under his control. Teaching a girl that good girls are ladies and ladies don’t like sex, makes it more likely that she won’t insist on her own pleasure and more likely she will comply with unwanted sexual behavior, because sex is ultimately not about her (5). I know teaching your child to be the decider of what they do with their body may seem counter-intuitive, because you want to protect your child by telling him to abstain completely from any type of sexual behavior. But making it clear that she is responsible for her body, entitled to safety, and entitled to pleasure is the way to go. Research tells us that adolescents who have more agency over their body, choose healthier sexual behavior and often delay sex longer than adolescents who score lower in agency (6, 7). So, if abstinence is what you’re after as a parent, agency is the way to go. Although most churches have really great intentions for their youth, abstinence-only messages have almost no impact on sexual behavior, whereas comprehensive sexuality education is associated with less pregnancy, less STIs, and a later age of first intercourse (8). If abstinence is the value you want to instill, it ultimately needs to be a value that your child has and will practice. In summary, you can provide the information, model the values, and teach responsible sexual behavior, but your child’s body his own. She decides what she does with it and she is responsible for the outcomes of those choices. Your job is to help him manage the outcomes of those choices.
Teach your child that sex should be practiced with care, not fear. Fearful information is often the only information kids are getting about sex. You know, how sex can kill them or completely ruin their life. Or they get the information that sex is meaningless and you should “hit” or “tap” whatever ass you can get. Neither of these messages are ideal. Marnie Goldenberg, has 4 excellent points to emphasize during “The Talk”, my favorite is that sex should be handled with care. What a great word! Care. Care implies the need to plan, take responsibility for the decision and outcomes associated with that decision. Care also implies commitment. If you take care of something, you are committed to it. When you take care of something, you want both to promote positive outcomes as well as prevent negative outcomes. Emphasizing the need to take care of your sex life or to exercise care with sex is perfect, because the need never changes. Once a female experiences menarche (first menstruation) and a male experiences semenarche (first ejaculation), to when sexual behavior is full on active, to when it slows down, to when it seems impossible to conjure up the energy for, or when it comes all to easily with someone it shouldn’t, one needs to take care of their sexuality.
Allow your children to get to know their body. If you are of a faith that doesn’t believe in masturbation, this is going to be tougher to teach and cultivate, but still entirely possible! So don’t run away yet! This message can be sent early on. For example, if you are changing a diaper, don’t slap your child’s exploring hands away hastily. If they are poking around in the bath tub, let them. As children get older and can begin to understand public and private behavior (about 3) then you want to encourage them to touch their genitals at home only. This is easier said than done. Bottom line- watch your emotional reaction. If you blush and squirm, it will most likely encourage more touching in public situations for some children or shame other children about touching all together. Although we know very little about masturbation during adolescence scientifically, we do know that masturbation among young women is associated with better sexual health (8). In order to encourage masturbation (the old fashioned way-without porn), you don’t need to spend too much time on the issue, but just assure your child that masturbation is normal and safe and that you recognize she needs some privacy to figure it out. If you don’t believe in masturbation, you can emphasize knowing your body and how it is changing throughout puberty. For example, giving a daughter a hand mirror so she can see how her body is changing is a good way to send the message that her body is special and she should get to know it.
Your daughter does not need her daddy to protect her from all those boys who are up to no good! This breaks my heart actually. I love the idea of my husband protecting my daughter and if she is heterosexual, showing her future boyfriends his machete collection. The idea of that fills me with great joy and warmth! But the message that she needs to be protected from boys is not a good one for 2 reasons: 1. It sends the message that all boys are up to no good. Meaning, that even if you find one to love and one you want a relationship with, even he will pressure you into having sex if you don’t want to or even worse, will force you to have sex when you don’t want to. Teach your daughter if she is being pressured, this is not the right dude! Next please! There are so many great guys out there who would never pressure someone into having sex before she is ready to; 2. The message assumes that she cannot protect herself. She needs to know that she can say NO and refuse an unwanted sexual situation and that she is perfectly capable of doing so. Instead, you should be teaching her about protecting herself and standing up for herself instead of sending the message that she will be taken advantage of, because all boys and men will eventually take advantage of her.
Teach your children consent, because you are the only one who will. The world of media and peers teaches boys to get chicks. Lie to them, get them drunk, just get them. A lot of them. He needs to know that he doesn’t want to be “that guy”. I love this letter from a mom to a son about consent. Our sexual culture teaches girls not to be sexual but be incredibly sexy, leaving them confused as to when they want to engage in sexual behavior and what they can say no to if they’ve already engaged in say, a kiss. Teach your children that kissing or touching doesn’t mean he or she has given the green light for oral or penetrative sex. Here’s a fun video with more on consenting to sexual behavior.
There is no such thing as ‘ready for sex’. There are better and worse circumstances to have sex for the first time, but no such thing as ‘ready’. There is such a thing as preparing to have consensual, pleasurable, and physically safe sex. Here’s a little check list you can pass along: Are you drunk? Have you practiced putting a condom on? Does your partner enthusiastically want to have sex? Have you asked her if she wants to have sex? Do you know his parent’s names? Have you seen a vaccination record? Bank statement? Does she have a letter of recommendation? Okay, I’m getting carried away. I think you get the idea though, the more prepared the better, but there is no such thing as ‘ready’.
Ultimately, sexual decisions are entirely up to your children. You cannot make their decisions for them. The only thing you can do as a parent is be approachable, provide accurate information, be consistent with your values, and then provide loving (not judging) support. The rest is up to your kid! So, take a deep breath and let go.
(1) Gartrell, N., & Mosbacher, D. (1984). Sex differences in the naming of children's genitalia. Sex Roles, 10, 869-876.
(2) Fraley, M. C., Nelson, E. C., Wolf, A. W., & Lozoff, B. (1991). Early genital naming. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 12, 301-304.
(3) Rosenzweig, J. (2012). The sex-wise parent. Skyhorse Publishing, New York: NY.
(4) Egan, R. D., & Hawkes, G. (2009). The problem with protection: Or, why we need to move towards recognition and the sexual agency of children. Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 23, 389-400.
(5) Tolman, D. L. (1999). Femininity as a barrier to positive sexual health for adolescent girls. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 54, 133-145.
(6) Rosenthal, D., Moore, S., & Flynn, I. (1991). Adolescent self‐efficacy, self‐esteem and sexual risk‐taking. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 1, 77-88.
(7) Lesch, E., & Kruger, L. M. (2005). Mothers, daughters and sexual agency in one low-income South African community. Social Science & Medicine, 61, 1072-1082.
(8) Kohler, P. K., Manhart, L. E., & Lafferty, W. E. (2008). Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 344-351.
(9) Hogarth, H., & Ingham, R. (2009). Masturbation among young women and associations with sexual health: An exploratory study. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 558-567.
Photo Source: Dollar Photo Club
I've been getting lots of requests for videos aimed at teens that can help explain some of the topics I cover in my workshops. I came across this wonderful series of videos that do just that. They cover several sexual and romantic topics from a scientific perspective. Enjoy!
The Science of Love
The Science of Heartbreak
The Science of 'Plan B' Emergency Contraception
Childbirth vs. Getting Kicked in the Balls
The Science of Pornography Addiction
The Science of Morning Wood
The Science of Orgasms
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
As Seen On:
What I love: