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Your Child Looks At Porn. What Do You Do?

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Periodically one of my patients comes in quite agitated about it, or a parent comes to me in a panic about it. “I found my kid watching porn,” they’ll say. “What do I do now?”

Given the typical danger-oriented media coverage of pornography, it’s easy for parents to feel terribly anxious about this issue. Listening to Newsweek, the Parents Television Council, or various “morality” groups, you’d think that every American boy is in danger of becoming a porn addict—an obsessive, aggressive loser who hates women and eventually destroys himself.

Fortunately, it isn’t true. So let’s all take a deep breath and relax a bit.

We know that all children are sexual—they have sexual feelings, thoughts, and questions. Naturally, six-year-olds don’t think about intercourse, and thirteen-year-olds can’t imagine the subtleties of mutual arousal and satisfaction. But every human is born a sexual being. How you as a parent deal with your feelings about your children’s sexuality will shape how you feel about, and what you do about, your kid looking at porn.

So how do you, Mom or Dad, feel about your kid masturbating? That is, after all, why he or she looks at porn beyond mere curiosity. If you can’t handle that, your kid’s use of porn will of course be unacceptable—but beside the point. Whether talking about kids’ use or adults’ use, too many conversations about whether porn is harmful to users or society is really about the unacceptability of masturbation. If that’s your position, be honest and say “I don’t want my kid masturbating to porn because I don’t want my kid masturbating.”

Even parents who accept the reality that their kids have sexual feelings and masturbate can be concerned about porn. What if it’s violent? What if it encourages values of which I disapprove? What if it’s confusing?

The answer to all three questions is: it might.

The porn your kid watches might be violent—but it probably isn’t. Most porn isn’t—for the simple reason that there’s a limited market for that.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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