Yesterday there was an article about kids watching Internet Porn (Rude awakening: Teaching our kids the abc’s of XXX). The article quoted a UK poll which found that ‘75% of teens said that their parents never discussed Internet Porn with them,’ as well as cited a study from the University of Alberta which ‘found that 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls in Grade 8 had accessed sexually explicit content at least once — more than a third of the boys said they had seen porn too many times to count.’
This morning I stumbled upon an article (A Mother, A Son, and a Six-Year Term For Teenage Sex) about a new movement afoot in the US by parents to change the ‘Sex Offender’ laws. Too many boys are being labeled Sex Offenders for life because they have teenage sex with someone they believe they love. From the article I gleaned that there is no national registry, but Texas reports 4519 youth sex offenders, Michigan 1341, and Wisconsin 1687, and that through the work of parents like Francine Baldino, featured in the article, Romeo and Juliet Laws are beginning to pop-up which treat sex between minors differently.
Put the statistics about kids and internet porn together with teenagers being convicted of statutory rape and it makes me consider becoming a Luddite and keeping Caidin locked in the house until he’s 21. Although I’m sure there would be a host of other problems created by that approach. So I return to one of my core beliefs, creating a healthy communication space with our children is so important in Conscious Parenting. Discussions about the body, about sex, about society, about laws and rules and regulations don’t start when our kids hit puberty. They start early on with our children’s healthy questions about their own bodies and ours and about the world they live in.
Our answers must be honest and provide insight and information. If we are embarrassed to discuss things or we shut our children down, our children will pick up on that and they won’t return with further questions. There isn’t a question Caidin asks that I won’t answer. Some are not easy, but if he’s hearing it somewhere – say by chance on television as we are flipping through the channels or a news report comes on (‘Mom, what’s rape?’) or not by chance say from a friend who likes to share his swear word of the day (‘Mom what does F@#K mean?’) – I want Caidin coming to ME for answers. I don’t want him trying to figure it out himself, or getting answers from his friends. Plus it gives me an opportunity to instill my values. A conversation is never just about the questioned asked. These questions give us opportunities to talk about values and beliefs as well.
As Conscious Parents we have to set the stage early for our children to feel not only comfortable but confident in coming to us with their questions; comfortable in that it is O.K. to ask us and confident in that we will give them real information. That doesn’t happen by glossing over things or dismissing the question. That happens by having real conversations. Some questions require a ‘let me think about how to answer that and we’ll talk about it later.’ But later always comes, it’s not a euphemism for ‘I don’t want to answer this question, so I’m going to put you off.’
For many people honest communication about topics that make them squirm is a big challenge and if that’s you, you most likely have how your own parents dealt with these topics to thank. They responded with discomfort and dismissal which creates a sense of shame for having asked the question in the first place. But your child wants answers and they will find them. So consider the alternative to shaking off your own discomfort. Do you want those answers to come from you or from the teenage brother or sister of your child’s friend or worse by googling on the internet?
And then there are those things we just know nothing about. There are times that I am at a total loss when Caidin asks me about some function of his body. Not having some of the same features, I just don’t have an answer. But instead of simply saying ‘ask your father.’ I will acknowledge that his question is something I don’t have an answer to because our bodies are different. I might suggest we look it up on line, but I also always suggest that he check in with his dad to make sure that he is equally comfortable speaking with his father. Some of these moments strike me as funny, and Caidin and I do laugh about them. There is nothing wrong with laughing about what we don’t know, or the comedy in a moment.
Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to talk about the things they will encounter in life both personally and socially. Some parents worry that by talking about these things that it is tantamount to condoning them. I don’t see it that way. As I said, I believe by talking about these things it actually gives us an opportunity to instill our values and beliefs through the process of healthy conversation, so I welcome each opportunity.
In the end what your child needs to know is that you are there, you are listening and that when they come to you, you will help them find the answers they are seeking.
© 2012 Christine Agro
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Christine Agro is a clairvoyant, naturopath, Master Herbalist, conscious mom and author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously as well as of The Conscious Living Wisdom Cards (Special Moms’ Edition). Christine is founder of The Conscious Mom’s Guide , a membership site where she helps support you on your own journey of living life consciously and on your journey of being a Conscious parent. You can also join Christine on Facebook. To contact Christine, invite her to speak or to schedule an appointment with her please email her