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Cory Silverberg

Talking to Kids About Pornography

By October 9, 2009

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I'm a huge fan of young adult fiction. Ever time I re-read favorite works like Tuck Everlasting or Nobody's Family Is Going to Change (I'm aging myself with these references, I know) it's hard not to agree with the argument that writing for kids is more difficult than writing for adults. Even if it isn't more difficult, certainly it requires an author to stretch different muscles. And when it's great, it forces an author to achieve a kind of emotional clarity that's absent from too many works of adult fiction.

This has something to do with talking to kids about sex. When you talk to adults about sex, there are all sorts of ways you can hide. You can hide behind language, you can hide behind the idea that there's a common understanding about what sex means, you can hide behind an attitude of coolness or indifference so that whomever your talking too feels foolish for wanting to ask basic questions like why can't we talk about this, why won't you try this, what are you afraid of?

But when you're talking to someone who hasn't yet been completed screwed up by going through the narrow-minded, spirit-breaking process that is Western sexual socialization you can't hide as much. You need to use plain language and be ready for honest questions. It's the thing I love about talking to kids about sex. But it's also what makes it feel so threatening, particularly to parents.

Most parents I talk to want to know how to keep sex conversations to a minimum, and how to gear them around preventing their kids from being interested in sex. But not all of them. A few years ago I was asked by a couple with an eleven year old if I could recommend a book about sex that wouldn't scare their kid off. They didn't want their son learning about things like pornography and sex work in the playground, on TV, or online. But they also didn't think it was appropriate to start talking to him about what, they felt, were essentially adult topics. I suggested that since they lived in a big city and their son was already spending some time on the computer (supervised) it wouldn't be long before a natural opportunity would arise to talk about these things (a cover story in the newspaper, a poorly worded Google search). All they needed to do was keep their eyes and ears open for the opportunities. That, and do a little preparation so they had an idea of what they wanted to say before they said it.

They were still stuck, and without any good book or website to point them to, I wrote something down for them. I thought the polyamory discussion was too much for me to start with, so I started with pornography. This is what I wrote for them.

Read more - How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography

Related - How to Talk to Kids About Sex

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