3 Tips for Talking to Your Son About Pornography

It’s no secret that explicit material is more easily accessible today than it has been at any other point in history. For most parents today, the situation is very different from their own experience; where older adults will have been first exposed to pornography through a misplaced magazine or late-night cable TV, the kids of today have vast libraries available to stream from their computer or smartphone. While you may have had a confusing experience when you first saw an explicit video or image, afraid to discuss it with your parents, all you have to do is have a slightly difficult conversation with your son (or daughter), but one that’s honest and realistic. Here are three things to cover when talking to your son about porn. Emphasize That Porn Is a Momentary Thrill, Followed by Emptiness – Viewing explicit images leads to the release of the same brain chemicals implicated in drug addiction; it’s literally one of the ways the brain can get a quick fix. The problem comes after the peak, when feelings of guilt and emptiness take over. It’s like a high followed by a rapid withdrawal, and this can trap you into a cycle of watching porn more and more to chase that high. The chemical impact of porn is why it can be addictive and why people escalate to more extreme material over time (developing a drug-like tolerance to porn). Emphasizing this in your conversation is crucial because it fosters an understanding of how pornography can take over your life. Explain That Fantasy Is Isolating, but Reality Is About Connecting – Porn is a fantasy world. Like all fantasies, the more time you spend in it, the more time you spend away from the real people in your life. After the shallow, fleeting feelings of enjoyment when your brain chemicals spike, pornography leaves you alone. In comparison, relationships are about shared experiences, developing a connection with another person that continues to grow and evolve along with you. It’s about finding somebody to live your life with, not just to share sexual experiences with. Tell your son how the fantasy world of pornography is incapable of providing the true joy of connecting with another person. Explain That Porn Is an Example of One-Dimensional Sex – The biggest misconception young boys may hold about sex after watching porn is that porn accurately captures what sex is all about or what good sex is like. It’s important to help your son understand that this is far from true and that, in fact, porn misses the fundamental element that makes great sex what it is. The deep, intimate, multi-dimensional connection between two people is reduced to a one-dimensional caricature of the real experience. When a couple grows closer together, they get to know each other more, what they like and what they don’t like, and the experience becomes even more passionate as time goes on. In pornography, sex is a depersonalized, purely physical act, and that is not the reality of sex. Comparatively, it’s incredibly hollow.  Addiction and social isolation are two big issues with pornography, but one of the biggest benefits of talking to your son openly and honestly about it is that you can correct any misconceptions he’s picked up and explain anything he found confusing. Having that one difficult conversation helps put what he’s seen into context, something many adults of today weren’t lucky enough to have. Along with explaining how pornography can become a dangerous cycle ending in addiction, it gives you the opportunity to clarify what real sex is like and, crucially, to open up an honest avenue of conversation that will hopefully be a source of support for him as he grows into adulthood. He needs to know he can talk to you about anything that’s bothering him.

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