For Parents: Conversations about Sexual Matters, #1: Setting the Stage for Openness

by , under kids, parenting, porn

This series is about education young children about sexual matters including pornography and other sexual matters.  To be notified of new posts follow me on Facebook or join my email list in the box on the right.

My husband recently discovered in our computer’s history that my son had gone through some sites of interest. I had inadvertently unplugged our Circle internet filter (which I highly recommend) so it gave him more access than we’d like. Thankfully it wasn’t pornographic, but the topics were not age appropriate. We felt it was worth a conversation.

I wanted to be really careful because I didn’t want him to feel on any level like he had done something wrong. Curiosity is natural and healthy. But I do want him to know that it’s important and helpful to talk to my husband and/or me if ideas and questions arose in his mind that were confusing or potentially embarrassing. Here is how I decided to approach it.

We have been slowing making our way through the book Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, one chapter every few months. But there is a lot more to safeguarding our children than talking to them about dangers. My main agenda was to let him know he could talk to me about anything. I didn’t even really feel like I needed to address specifically what was on these sites. It just made me realize it was really time to open some doorways to difficult conversations.

Me (in the waiting room at the orthodontist’s office): Jack is there any sort of stuff that you wouldn’t want to tell me? Like certain kinds of things you’d done or seen that you would want to lie to me about or hide from me?
J: (blank look)
Me: Just think about it. I’m just curious.
Me: (on the way home from appointment) so you remember what I asked you before? About stuff you might not want to tell me about?
J: ya.
Me: You think of anything?
J: (shrug) no.
Me: Ok. Keep thinking about it. I was just asking because I really want you to be able to tell me anything. If anything is stressful or scary or makes you feel uncomfortable I’d want you to be able to tell me about it. So I was just wondering. And if there is anything I do that would make you not want to tell me stuff I’d want to know.

I didn’t expect to get an answer and didn’t really need one. I mostly just wanted him to ask himself, “what do I talk to my mom about and what do I hide and why”.

The next day I asked my other son the same question. This time it was while waiting for our pizza.

Me: (same question as above)
S: Um, you mean, like who I like or something. (coy smile)
Me: (score, I had no idea he had even started liking girls!!!) Um, ya, like that. You wouldn’t want to tell me that?
S: No. Well, I don’t like anyone at school.
Me: Oh, so someone at church? (score again!)
S: (shakes his hand and walks away realizing I was getting close!)

I let it go and didn’t press him for details. My husband and I decided we don’t want to tease our kids about crushes because it will only make them feel more awkward. He has every right to keep some things to himself. But I do plan to follow up and ask why he wouldn’t want to tell me. I know it’s kind of obvious, but I want him to think about what kind of stuff he’d want to keep from me and why. And I want him to think about whether it’s going to be harmful to him if he keeps it to himself.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ways that you approach talking to your kids about sensitive topics. Send me your thoughts in the contact form below.