Today I Met a 7 Year Old Who Had Been Viewing Pornography Regularly
I wrote this blog post many years ago, but it still rings true today as much as it did then. I hope this motivates parents to set up technology well, from the very beginning...
Today was a really sad day for me.
I saw a little girl who had been viewing pornography for over a year without her parent’s knowledge. She was 7 years old and had asked her parents when she was going to be a teenager, as she wanted ‘boobies’ and a boyfriend. Her mother and father were hit with the reality that things were not right when they starting ask her more questions.
I also saw 15 year old girl who had been frequently pornography sites (videos and picture books) up to 5 times a day on her school laptop. She was viewing a variety of live bestiality and gay pornography that they didn’t even know existed. She has been seeing me for over 3 months.
This blog post is specifically written for parents who have just discovered their child or teenager is viewing pornography regularly. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. How would you feel if your daughter or son was in this position? What would you do next?
Here are the top four questions parents in this position ask me:
· Should I be feeling this sad?
· How could I not have known?
· What did I do wrong?
· Is this going to affect them for life?
· What do I do now?
Should I be feeling this sad?
It is completely normal to feel shock, disappointment, personal guilt, anxiety and grief. I just want to validate that these emotions are appropriate. One of the biggest challenges you will have is keeping strong and processing them away from your child. Your love and care during this time is critical.
How could I not have known?
Simply put, you don’t see what you aren’t looking for. There are so many assumptions that guide what we ‘see’ or ‘don’t see’ in our young people’s lives. You might have assumed your child could be trusted. You might have assumed they knew better. You might have assumed that pornography was a male issue and wouldn’t reach your daughter. Our assumptions guide our parenting decisions.
What did I do wrong?
A part of a parent’s responsibility is to protect their children so it is understandable that parents feel responsible and guilty when things go wrong. However, when it comes to the internet there is so much that parents can’t control. Our children are given an iPad at school in year 5 – 7, which opens a whole world to children. We can’t eliminate the risk altogether, or change the past. The more time you spend in regret and guilt the less time you will spend productively engaging as a parent today. Parents tell me that their biggest challenge will be regaining your confidence, so they can parent in a balanced and thoughtful way. How you respond now is far more critical that what has happened.
Is this going to affect them for life?
Most parents who discover their children or teenagers are accessing pornography say, “My child or teenager has a pornography addiction.” These are strong words. Remember that their brain is impressionable yet mouldable. Nothing is set in concrete. What is a habit now, can be reversed.
What do I do now?
Get some professional help. Please! This is one issue I plea with parents not to try and deal with ‘in house’, especially if you feel you are struggling to come to terms with it yourself. When a child has been hiding a habit like this it impacts your entire relationship with them. The issues is always broader than pornography. Pornography addictions find a permanent residence in shame, guilt, lies and hiding. The more the issues is brought out in the open the better chance they will have to break the habit.
One anonymous support service I suggest to teenagers is - www.joinfortify.com
As always prevention is best, and this is one of the many great resource out there to help parents: Click Here
Content from this Blog is from the book ‘Parenting Teenage Girls’ in the Age of a New Normal available from michellemitchell.org
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