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My Dilemma: I Caught My Son Watching Porn. What Do I Do Now?
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  • Talking to your teens about sex can be daunting and even cringe-worthy, but imagine how horrifying it would be to catch your teen watching porn even before initiating sex education. On our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village, it was the dilemma faced by one mom who wished to remain anonymous.

    “I caught my 12-year-old son browsing porn sites and for sure nakapanood na siya. The first time nahuli ko siya hindi ko siya pinagalitan. Naiintindihan ko po kasi na curious siya and naririnig din niya sa mga kaklase niyang lalaki ‘yung mga usapang ganun. ‘Pag tinatanong ko naman siya, lagi niyang sinasabi na alam niyang mali ‘yun.

    “Then, last night, I let him borrow my phone to research his assignment. ‘Pag akyat ko, nakita ko na naman. He was supposed to be doing homework pero natukso siya. Dun na ako nagalit. Napagalitan ko siya kasi kinausap ko na siya ng masinsinan about dun. Inadvisan ko siya sa mga maling info na nakukuha niya about sex dun sa mga porn sites at hindi pa siya bagay sa edad niya dahil napakabata pa niya. I even let him ask me questions and ipinaliwanag ko [sa kanya].

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    "Kanina, nahuli ko na naman siya. Bakit po ganun? Bakit hindi niya magawang sumunod? Ano po ba ang magandang approach sa mga ganitong sitwasyon?”

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    What to do if you catch your teen watching porn

    Every human is a sexual being — that means they have sexual feelings and thoughts. But living in a country like the Philippines, where sex is still considered taboo, responding to issues surrounding sexuality (like your teen watching porn) often feels embarrassing to many, especially to parents.

    Those who were raised with a traditional and Catholic upbringing would have been taught that sex should only occur within a loving, committed relationship, and ideally, it starts with marriage. Yet sexualized content is more accessible now, thanks to smartphones and technology. The message, then, becomes confusing.

    Teens are curious and will want answers. If they’re not getting them from their parents or teachers, they will find it from other sources.

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    If your child is already exposed to porn, whether by accident or on purpose, there’s only one thing to do: be candid about it, just like the mom above. As hard as it is, find a way to be comfortable when talking about sex because where would you rather have them learn these things, anyway? Parents, here’s what you can do next:

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    Keep your cool

    What’s done is done — there’s nothing to do but to accept the fact that your kid has already discovered porn. Take a moment to breathe and be calm. Refrain from barging into their room and yelling at them or threatening to take away their gadgets. They’re more likely to hide things from you if you don’t keep an open line of communication in your household.

    Joy*, 45, a mother to a 16-year-old girl, shares, “Kapag ang bata mas hinihigpitan mo, mas magrerebelde yan. Mas mabuting mag one-on-one kayo at mag-usap para maging kumportable din siyang magsabi sa’yo. Magulang ka niya, dapat ikaw pa yung una niyang napagsasabihan nito."

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    You can start by asking questions like: “Why are you watching it? How did you find out about them? How does it make you feel?” This will encourage him to be critical of porn instead of just telling you that he does watch it.

    It’s a delicate conversation, and it might help if both parents talk to him separately, so the child gets both a male and female perspective. For single parents, another family member may come in and have a conversation with the child.

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    Educate your kids

    Just like media literacy, kids need porn literacy. They have to understand that what they’re watching are romanticized ideas about sex, fetishes, and unrealistic expectations, especially for women. Talk to them that what’s often portrayed are not a result of a healthy sexual relationship and that these are actors playing a role. This also leads to talks about protection and consent.

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    A lot of porn doesn’t involve the use of condoms, birth control pills, and protection against sexually-transmitted diseases, so it’s crucial to educate your child about the importance of safe sex. Consent is also non-negotiable. If one of the people involved in the act doesn’t want to go through with it, then the act must be stopped. Teach your child that consent happens before, during, and after sex.

    There’s also a dangerous side to pornography that should be addressed like abuse, gang rape, pedophilia, etc. Discuss these with your child and let him or her know that it is never okay to be involved in such acts.

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    Cultivate positive body image

    Another point of discussion should be the physical attributes that they see. More or less, the porn they watch is heavily edited. Their bodies are going to change and each one is unique. Chances are their bodies will not look like what they see in the video.

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    “Napakadaling maimpluwensyahan ang mga bata ngayon, kaya kung anong makita nila, ginagaya nila at kung ano yung wala sa kanila, na-frufrustrate sila. Lalo na kapag nag kukumparahan sa mga kaibigan, minsan kung sino yung kinulang, mas nagiging subject of bullying. Nagkakaroon tuloy ng negative body image sa bata,” says Sheila*, 34 and mother to a 13-year old and 18-year old boys.

    Establish a positive body image. The body parts they’ve seen, regardless of size, should be in no way the standard against which their self-esteem should be measured, nor should it be a standard of attributes they should look for in a partner. 

    When talking about sex, don’t be afraid to use the proper biological terms for human genitalia. Because it’s sexually sensitive and sometimes gives off sexual desire when used, terms using ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ in normal conversations still makes people uncomfortable. But remember, it’s better to use those than the more derogatory forms of it. Your child should be able to talk about his or her body because it’s natural!

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    Don’t shame the kids

    Avoid instilling fear or shame in your child’s mind. Assure them that it’s okay to talk about sex and getting aroused by pornographic videos are normal.

    It’s natural. It’s normal. I hate to say it, but it’s likely to happen with nearly every kid. It’s not just the boys’ story,” says Elizabeth Schroeder, a sexuality education expert to CNN. “Hormones are raging as puberty hits, plus there’s just the curiosity factor. The discussion of porn and the acknowledgment that porn exists is so much a part of mainstream media right now, that it's impossible to not know about it."

    It’s crucial not to be accusatory when you sit down with your child, because the tendency is that they’ll get defensive and shut you out. If you haven’t had the sex talk with your child, there is no better time to do it than now, when they’re at the age where they start to explore. Parents should recognize that sex shouldn’t be equated with shame.

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    Remember: catching your teen watching porn does not mean he or she already wants to have sex. And someone who is comfortable talking about sex doesn’t mean he or she is having lots of it. But hopefully, when the time comes for them to do it, it will lead to safer sex, because they have been given correct and accurate information from a trustworthy source, you.

    *Names have been changed upon request

    Having a hard time talking to your teen? Click here for ways to get your kids to tell you what's really on their minds.

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