Desperately seeking advice re: daughter and porn - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've never posted on this particular board on mothering.com, but I am not quite sure where to turn. My daughter is such a good kid. She has always struck me as a very young and innocent 11 (almost 12) year old. Enter the iPad. Her school has a bring-your-own-device thing going on at school, and so when she started middle school she got an iPad. We are a low tech family. Dh and I do have smartphones, but the kids have very limited screen time and don't have phones, iPods, don't watch tv (unless we are watching a movie as a family). I take responsibility for this situation because I was not vigilant about setting up parental controls. As much as I am constantly yacking about the importance of doing so, this slipped through the cracks. When we set it up it asked for her birthdate and she hasn't even managed to have an email acct bcs of age restrictions. She was only using it at school and for homework. I totally let the ball drop.

 

Anyway. Dh checked her browser history this morning bcs she and her sister were holed up in their room playing games on it, which is a "new" thing. He discovered a parent's worst nightmare. Last week she was viewing several porn videos. Makes me want to cry just thinking about it. Apparently what happened is that she used the voice command to search for "land forms in ancient rome" and it pulled up "porn" instead of "forms". Her curiosity got the best of her,  and now I feel like she has lost her innocence. I went to the website and was horrified. Yes, hardcore stuff. I feel...I am at a loss. We've had conversations with her all morning about it. 

 

What would you do?? What would your talking points be? I am grieving the loss of her childhood. Which maybe is overdramatic. But she can't unsee those images and it breaks my heart :(

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#2 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 03:36 PM
 
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I'm so sorry to hear of this upsetting situation for you. Firstly, I don't see why any child needs their own personal computer, iPad, etc. Even with parental controls and safeguards, it is my personal belief that there should be a family computer out in the open (kitchen, living room) where everyone is gathered so you can closely monitor its use and stop possible abuse. However, some people believe in letting their child a little freedom when it cones to this. Just know, its easy to delete the browsing history too. Kids are curious, especially when it comes to sex. I'd reassure your daughter that she can feel at ease to talk to you anytime she needs to and that it's safe to come to you with any question or concern. Keep the lines of communication open. She may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even angry at you for finding out via browser history. Let her know you're not angry with her. Its a delicate situation because she may feel betrayed and be hesitant to trust you and your husband in other situations.Make sure she knows youre looking out for her best interest and hiw dangerous viewing pornography can be. Children are emotionally and sexually immature, and seeing sexually explicit material, especially pornography compared to a 'playboy magazine' can be frightening and very upsetting. I'd reassure her that its not reality, how it degrades a woman's integrity, and that sex should take place between two caring and consenting adults. Not sure how much sex education or informations she's been given. She may not understand much of what she saw depending on it? I'd supply age appropriate information to her about sex to satisfy her curiosity. Reassure her that you love her and are always there to answer her questions or give her advice.
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#3 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 04:58 PM
 
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I know it's shocking. About 2 years ago I saw my daughter's history and she had viewed several anime websites and videos with porn. The worst was one that showed like 100 different positions. She was mortified that I found out. She loves to draw and that's how she happened upon those websites. She said she was curious. I stayed calm and told her it's natural to be curious. I asked her how it made her feel to see those and she said weird and not right inside. I said maybe your conscious is trying to tell you something, that you are not ready to see those things. I said I was not mad at all-- it's okay to be curious. And if she has any questions at all she can come to me and ask no matter how embarrassing.  It really opened up a window of trust for her and she has come to me with questions ever since. I think by not overreacting it was turned into a great lesson.


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#4 of 18 Old 10-12-2013, 04:59 PM
 
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OK, for starters, take a breath. She has not lost her innocence. She's 11 almost 12? In middle school? I promise she already knew more than you thought. She saw some porn which is not something any of us would be thrilled about but it's not the same as getting molested or raped. There are generations of people who walked in on their parents or ran into something on the internet or found an older siblings magazines. She has plenty of childhood ahead of her as long as you don't start acting like she's "spoiled."

 

Talk to her matter-of-factly. Acknowledge that it's natural to be curious but that she needs to understand that porn is not reality. Porn workers are being exploited... paid for sex by people who are making a ton more money off it than they are. It's something people do when they don't feel they are valued for anything else and that is very sad. We help lesson the demand for porn by not watching it. Let her know she can talk to you but then let it go! Get out the board games and just have fun. Let her know by your actions that she's still your baby.


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#5 of 18 Old 10-17-2013, 10:18 AM
 
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I understand that you may have different views than I do about this topic in general, but what I think is most important is not that she saw something, but your reaction to it.  If it were me, I like to think that I would have a conversation about how curiosity is normal, you can talk to me about anything, do you want to talk about what you saw?, this stuff doesn't normally show a realistic view of sex and relationships.  My worry is that by talking about it all morning you've made it seem like she did something horrible and it is a really huge deal meaning she is a changed person and it is bad, she is less than she was, etc etc.  That's how it's coming across to me from your post.  But she is still a good kid, still young, still innocent to the same levels that she was before she saw this, or before you knew about it. (I assume that you didn't notice anything "different" about her between the time that she saw this and the time you found out.)

 

I understand that you're freaking out.  I also know that kids tend to filter things into what they can make sense of.  When I heard racy songs on the radio but my brain wasn't ready to understand them, the message just kind of went over my head, or I interpreted them as something different.  I'm not saying that's what will happen with this situation, but you are probably bringing an adult's knowledge and history of understanding to this.  She is just seeing visuals and actions. 

 

It's kind of good, because now you have the opportunity to help her interpret them in a way that you see fit. (For example talking about how real sex can be different, money involvement, drugs, male directors, relationship context, etc.)

 

I agree with the PP that it's wise to "let her know by your actions that she's still your baby."  At this point, I'd let her know that you freaked out, just let it drop for a while, and go out for a treat together or cuddle up in front of a G rated movie or do some crafts.  She'll be OK.  She has years to learn, explore, and be exposed to healthy images of life.

 

-edited for grammar only

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#6 of 18 Old 10-17-2013, 01:24 PM
 
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It's a little early to see hardcore porn, but we all see it at some point when we do it. Likely she'll just go on living her life, even if she saw something that disturbed her a little bit. I'd let it go!

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#7 of 18 Old 10-17-2013, 05:15 PM
 
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My daughter found porn sites by accident as well a couple of years ago when she was around 8 or 9. It didn't seem to affect her negatively. She's 11 1/2 years old now and in 6th grade. Her father and I talked to her about it at that time and made sure she had no more time alone with the laptop in her room. In our situation our daughter was on a Lego game site where people all over the world go and play (supposed to be children but I'm sure not all were) and someone emailed a link to her on that site to her inbox and she clicked on it and saw it. She knew it wasn't right and told me about it thank goodness. Now she only goes to sites that I approve of and uses my PC in my office.


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#8 of 18 Old 10-18-2013, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for your replies. I think the shock of it caught my husband and me off-guard. I was exposed to that kind of stuff early on, and I have always been so thankful that my kids have been spared. For me it was finding stuff in my (much) older brothers' bedroom. So, of course, it happens to us all at some point, and we survive it. But, ugh. Regardless, it has opened the door for some interesting conversations ( a lot of the ones that were mentioned by you all just occurred naturally), and it help to get feedback bcs it assures me that I addressed it and reacted to it the "right" way. Salr, I understand what you are saying, and where you are coming from. But I DO feel like it's changed her - or at least her perception of the world. And that is what is heartbreaking to me. I wish I knew which videos she saw. The homepage had all sorts of extreme images. If it was "just" sex, I would feel differently, I think.

 

I feel like I have "let it go" and we are carrying on...just without her being the owner of an iPad for awhile...

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#9 of 18 Old 10-19-2013, 09:27 PM
 
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Honestly? Having conversations with her all morning about it seems to me a bit over the top. She knows it freaked you out, and she may well be leery of approaching you regarding sex, etc. as a result. Which is kind of the last thing you want to happen. I thought the "it's normal to be curious" post was a better way to go.

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#10 of 18 Old 10-20-2013, 04:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe. But you can only do the best you can in the moment. And that was our initial reaction. Can't undo it. The "curiosity" thing was part of the conversation too. And she's come to me with things since, so I  think we'll be okay. We are a very conservative and (over)protective household. She's growing up, so obviously we have to let go of the reigns a bit. But for my part "It's ok to be curious" and leaving it at that would never have been enough in this situation.

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#11 of 18 Old 10-20-2013, 12:57 PM
 
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This doesn't bother me as much as some other things might. I have no idea what "kind" of porn your DD was seeing, but I'm not one to think most types of sex (as long as they are consensual)  are a profane or off limits subject. Kids are curious, and as when we were kids (no internet when I was a kid in the 60-70s) we might find our dad's stash of magazines or books, modern day kids might Google "sex' just to see what it's all about. Think as we might that "they trust me and will come to me" by about 10 or so our kids know each parent's weaknesses and style and often, may not "come to you" with everything, when Google is so much less likely to preach. :)

 

I know my oldest Googled some porn when she was in adolescence. Meh, my dh and I weren't worried. When we found she had Googled pics of people who had jumped out of the World Trade Center, or Police Scene photos, I was a LOT more distressed. Violence bothers me a heck of a lot more than sex does. Turned out she was just curious and it was very short lived. We had said no to video games (we didn't even have a video game system until DD2 bought a Wii last year)  and we said "absolutely no" to games like Grand Theft Auto and that would upset my dh and I a lot more than a couple (or more) people getting serious with each other. I tend to not judge "kink" too harshly (to each their own as long as it's consensual) and we talked to our kids enough about what sexual love is and how different people have different ways of expressing themselves physically, that I don't think Googling a little porn is really "losing their innocence." Watching something is a lot different than taking part in it.

 

We have a lot of GLBTQ friends, and other friends who live Alternative Lifestyles.  So we think judging certain types of consensual sex as "bad" or "wrong" and others as "good" or "right" is simply not tolerant in our way of thinking. Our kids know this and feel the same way.

 

Non-consensual sex is a totally different story, though.


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#12 of 18 Old 10-24-2013, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post
 

It's a little early to see hardcore porn, but we all see it at some point when we do it. Likely she'll just go on living her life, even if she saw something that disturbed her a little bit. I'd let it go!

I am with you on this. My personal response is "Oh, yuck!", but more from the perspective that some things are meant to be private; I don't want to see other people doing anything intimate, even if I might love doing it myself. I seem to have transmitted this opinion to my kids, now 17 and 18. They have always had free access to the internet. I am sure they have seen some horrible stuff. But their response is "Oh, yuck!" and to close that page immediately. We have discussed the porn industry, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking. They understand to ethics and dangers, as well as the reality that some people enjoy porn. I know my kids are older than the OP's DD now, but we had the beginnings of these discussions years ago.


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#13 of 18 Old 10-24-2013, 12:28 PM
 
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Lots of great responses...The only thing I could add is that for me, it might make me feel better to find a few more conscious, beautiful, loving type books that explain sexuality and let her see them/leave then where she will see them (if the subject just needs to be dropped for a while). Something with more empowering, lovely images to counteract the ugliness she may have seen. What books would those be...? I remember something called The Joy of Sex, but could be pretty dated. Dr. Laura Berman (sp?) and Dr. Christine Northrup might have something...? I know from a student taught female sexuality classin college that there does exist books that celebrate sexuality in a female empowered, beautiful way (hhhmmm, maybe I should have one of these on hand...). You poor mama, I wish I could hug you! At 9 my daughter was confused by a site of people "showing off their butts," and that started me into parental controls, I would have flipped if it was hardcore stuff, so, hugs! But 12 is old enough to know lots and lots of details about sex--just would rather it was the sweeter details, right?
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#14 of 18 Old 10-24-2013, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the hugs, Wildflower. It's exactly as you say. She knows about sex - I was pregnant when she was 7, and she had a lot of questions. I just wish she hadn't seen the hardcore stuff. It frames it in an entirely different way :(

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#15 of 18 Old 11-12-2013, 11:23 PM
 
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Hi there! Whilst I think there are some conversations to be had with your daughter, I think you also need to understand your reaction as well. You have obviously been a protective parent - but your little girl is now an adolescent and that's a whole new ball game. Her job now is to explore to see the world with new and more grown-up eyes and to start to push back against her parents somewhat. And to be honest - having a quick look thinking it wouldn't be a problem is normal. The conversation should be about you, as you rightly say, assuring your daughter that you love her and that she has your unconditional love (although not always for the things she might do), but now that she's growing up it's time for a serious talk about your expectations - particularly around using the internet. It might be worth sitting with her and looking at the sites she's viewed together and having a conversation about why you find them offensive. Maybe extend that conversation to include your views on sex/boyfriends, etc. Give her an educational about it and then say you're now going to trust her to use the internet responsibly (outline your expectations) and that is part of the agreement for her using the iPad. I also think you need to start thinking about your reaction and start to brace yourself for this next phase of your daughter's life where you cannot protect her or be there for every part of her day. Now's the time to lay the ground rules and trust that she will want to do the right thing by making sure she understands that you want her to be safe not Rapunzel in the ivory tower where she doesn't get to a life! Good luck!

 

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#16 of 18 Old 11-20-2013, 09:55 PM
 
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I've been having the "internet porn" chat with my kids for a couple of years now, when they got their own laptops and iPads (hand me downs from family, or from their homeschool program). I kept it brief and to the point, but basically we talked about the fact that it's out there, that they may stumble across it by accident or they may even get curious and deliberately seek it out (to which they responded with emphatic denials, and lots of "ew, gross!", lol). I explained that there is "normal sex" and then there is "not normal" sex, kind of like the difference between real life and TV. I wanted to make sure they understood that having sex meant doing crazy, kinky stuff (I mean, it can, but I didn't want them to think that was what is meant when we talk about sex in general). Every now and then we revisit the subject if it comes up and overall I am happy with our approach. I don't think keeping kids away from unsupervised screen time is the answer - I think it just leads to a false sense of security. We just assumed that sooner or later they would run into this stuff and so decided to prepare them ahead of time by discussing it rather than having it be this big deal or shocking or whatever. So far neither one is interested but I'm pretty sure DS will get curious about it before his older sister, lol. I plan to just keep maintaining an open, honest dialogue about it. 


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#17 of 18 Old 11-21-2013, 12:54 PM
 
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Pretty sure you meant to say that having sex -didn't- necessarily mean crazy, kinky stuff. smile.gif
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#18 of 18 Old 11-22-2013, 03:35 PM
 
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Pretty sure you meant to say that having sex -didn't- necessarily mean crazy, kinky stuff. smile.gif

 

lol, whoops!! yes, that's what I meant to say. (blush!)


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