How To Talk To Your Kids About Porn (Dr. Trish Leigh)

Dr. Trish Leigh and Austin Burnes talking about how to talk to your kids about porn
A few potentially awkward conversations can save a lot of pain and heartache down the road.

I am not a parent. However, I was once a kid. Like many kids, my parents never once talked to me about porn or sex. I was always puzzled by this omission. Sure, the conversation may have been awkward. However, do parents think that if I don’t talk to my kids nobody will? Everything is just going to effortlessly work out for the best? That’s typically not how the world works. When parents don’t talk to their kids, somebody else gets to control the narrative, whether that’s friends, teachers, music, movies, or other media. In this culture, that is the last thing that I would want to happen to my kids’ sexuality.

Today, I’ve transcribed a segment in which Dr. Leigh, who is a mother of multiple kids, addresses the question from a place of experience. For Dr. Leigh, talking to your kids regularly about the dangers of pornography (and goodness of sex itself) is item #1. For her, beginning by asking your kids what they already know is a very intelligent way of going about it. After that, establishing restrictions on media usage–and, more importantly, teaching kids to police themselves in their own best interest–can go a long way toward keeping them safe.

Check out the video and transcript below. As someone who is not a parent, I’d be interested to hear if any of you parents have an insight or perspective you would like to share.

Number one is to talk to them. That’s the hard one. Parents don’t do that. . . Talk to them not once. Talk to them all the time. About sex, about watching pornography, about the dangers. . . But then, at the same time, not allowing your kids to have free reign of their electronics, which a lot of parents do. . . Ask your kids what they know about it. . . Don’t tell them anything until you know what they know.

Dr. Trish Leigh

If you like this article, check out Pornography, Narcissism, And Simp Behavior In Men (Dr. Trish Leigh). For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

Transcript

Burnes: I’ve been reading my comments, and there are some parents wondering how they can reliably, not too imposingly, keep their kids from watching porn.

Leigh: Yeah, it’s the hardest thing in the entire world.

Burnes: Because it is technically a drug that is non-existent in the real world. It’s just on your phone, and no one will ever know it existed.

Leigh: Exactly. Number one is to talk to them. That’s the hard one. Parents don’t do that.

Burns: Yeah, I mean it’s really awkward.

Leigh: Talk to them not once. Talk to them all the time. About sex, about watching pornography, about the dangers. My kids know—and now we just talk about it openly in the house, just because. . .  First, they cringed, and they really did not like it. But what it did was—you know, they’re still in the teen years–what it did was open the door so they could come to me and talk to me about things.

You can put blockers on your kids’ phones, but especially kids can get around blockers better than adults can. And adults can get around the blockers. Blockers are just fences. It really is about teaching them about the dangers. When they’re young and you teach them to respect you, you’ve earned their respect for a lifetime. You’re not constantly getting their respect out of discipline. Some parents do that. Like I said, enforcing things lovingly.

Thank God, I don’t yell at my kids. I don’t punish my kids. I definitely deliver the consequences of their choices. But that’s very different than me punishing. It’s like, “You did this. This is just the way it goes after you do that.”

And so, starting to talk to them, and telling them. Actually, there’s a book out there that is called “Good pictures. Bad pictures.” And there’s two different levels of it. Parents can show their very young kids the younger version, and, you know, their young 7 or 8 or 9 year-old kids the little bit older version. It becomes a springboard for conversation. Really, it’s just talking about there’s good pictures and bad pictures, and if bad pictures pop up on their computer, they’re very bad for your brain, and that don’t look at them. And tell me if you see them.

If the door is open for conversation where it doesn’t feel weird—it is hard enough—but at least then, conversation starts. I remember when my kids were little. It was one of those moments. Talk about infinite intelligence, and, you know, divinely inspired moments. I remember one of my kids. I think it was Declan. They’re little. They get off the bus, and my son goes, “Can we talk about the sax?” I’m like “what’s the sax?”

It ended up being sex, obviously. I’m in the kitchen panicking. I have to talk to four little kids about sex. I have no idea what I’m doing. I said, “Let me just finish making dinner, and we’ll talk about it.” Back then, I didn’t know anything, and actually I did it really well. This is the infinite intelligence part. Asking your kids—ask your kids what they know about it. Before you tell them anything. Don’t tell them anything until you know what they know.  

I did that, I said, “What do you know? How do you know about it?” Of course, kids on the bus were talking about it. They didn’t really know very much, but I took what they knew and just validated it. I think we need to teach our kids that sex is healthy, porn is not, which is what I’ve been doing with my own children, very weirdly, because it is a framework shift for me, it’s not what I was taught.

Burnes: Yeah, I mean when kids are brought up watching entertainment, they are kind of taught, or subconsciously taught that, “Oh, shooting everyone is OK, but sex is kinda ‘eh, don’t want to talk about that.’”

Leigh: Absolutely. Totally. You can watch a fight scene where somebody beats up 73 people, and then the sex scene comes on and you’re like “No! Like it’s going to burn their eyes” . . .

So having more conversations around that, and allowing that to be talked about. But then, at the same time, not allowing your kids to have free reign of their electronics, which a lot of parents do. And it’s really, really tricky to police it, but you want to teach your kids to police themselves.

You know how that goes. You teach a man to fish. . If you teach the kids the dangers, they don’t want to watch from an early age, instead of being told they can’t. If you’re told you can’t do something, what do you want to do? That thing.

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