“My 13-yr-old is into porn. What do I do?”

“My 13-yr-old is into porn. What do I do?”
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First Published: Fri, Nov 02 2007. 11 42 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Nov 02 2007. 11 42 PM IST
I have found out that my 13-year-old son is surfing pornographic websites on the home computer. I have not said anything to him, but have quietly made access to those websites difficult. I know my husband or I should speak to him, but I don’t want to sound disgusted or angry, and yet I want to make it clear that it is inappropriate. How should I handle this?
Like you, the mother of a 12-year-old boy logged on to her computer and found that her child had been visiting porn websites, and was even taking printouts. She told her husband, who confronted the child when he returned from school. At first, the boy denied it totally and then, asked in a small voice, “How did you come to know?” After that, all hell broke loose, with both parents threatening to send him off to boarding school.
The atmosphere in the house for the next few days was tense. The parents could not put the event behind them. Family rituals, such as the mother waking the son or the father engaging him in friendly boxing, stopped abruptly. Additionally, both parents began making taunting references to his now being “old enough” whenever he sought help or displayed hesitation about household responsibilities. Suddenly, the child’s world had turned upside down. At this rate, the child could suffer from lifelong guilt and self-disgust about his own sexuality.
Knowing that your child is accessing porn is a difficult situation for any parent. With the Internet making access to pornography free and easy, sadly, many adolescents’ first ideas and imaginings about sex are fed by crude pictures and text. The parent simply does not get a chance to introduce the subject as a natural human process that must always be associated with intimacy, love and caring.
However, it is possible to handle such a situation with great sensitivity. In this way, you can a) ensure that your child does not get overly secretive and obsessed with pursuing such explorations b) ensure that your child has a healthy, balanced, age-appropriate idea about the role of sex in human life.
The crossing over from adolescence to young adulthood is such a delicate and complex process. As parents, let us help our children along, building a bridge on which the child can walk, rather than abruptly pushing him onto the other side or, worse, dropping him into a sea of doubt, confusion and rejection.
u Never reject the child outright, leaving him in a void.
u Never make sex a taboo topic between your child and you.
u Never threaten to “tell everyone”.
u Never laugh, scorn or mock the incident.
u Never pretend it is a joke—“boys will be boys”—and let it pass.
u Never explain sex as “a bodily function”—just like eating.
u Always remain connected with your child, even if you find it difficult to accept that your baby is suddenly an adolescent.
u Always keep the lines open, even after you have had a quiet talk, so that your child can bring up any future doubts and questions.
u Always keep the incident private; even if you do share it with a friend or counsellor, do not let your child know.
u Always discuss the issue in a serious but easy manner—it is neither a joke nor a huge crisis.
u Always emphasize that sex and intimacy are bound together.
u Assist your children to blossom into adulthood, and not simply blunder their way into it.
Write to Gouri at learningcurve@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Nov 02 2007. 11 42 PM IST
More Topics: Children | Parenting | Pornography | Love | Intimacy |