Advice needed. 13 year old and porn - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was talking to my dad the other day and he told me that he was visiting my sister the other day and accidentally saw my niece watching porn on the computer. She is 13!!! My dad loudly asked her, why she is watching it. My niece quickly closed the laptop and said that she JUST accidentally found this site and not planning on going back, which could be true, but I think she is lying.

My sister is neglectful about checking what my niece is looking at in the computer. My sister is neglectful about a lot of aspects of my niece's life, but that's a long story.

I, however, is very close to my niece...at least I would like to think so. I would like to say something to my niece, but not sure how to approach it. I would like to tell her my opinion about porn (which is negative...I actually find it disgusting and totally degrading to human soul).

How would you approach the situation if you were me?
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#2 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:38 PM
 
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I'm not sure, but what are her parents like about sex education? I had NO sex education at ALL from my parents (and I went to a Catholic school, so nothing there, either), so the only way I learned was through a radio sex-talk program. This was before the internet was widely available. But if the internet were around back then, maybe I would have exercised my curiosity with online porn.
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#3 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure, but what are her parents like about sex education? I had NO sex education at ALL from my parents (and I went to a Catholic school, so nothing there, either), so the only way I learned was through a radio sex-talk program. This was before the internet was widely available. But if the internet were around back then, maybe I would have exercised my curiosity with online porn.
This is to give you a little background. Her parents got divorced when she was 3. She sees her father twice a year, so no sex education from him. Her mother doesn't educate her at all. She just got divorced a second time and seeing her boyfriend every night. My niece knows that they are having sex. Basically her mother is not showing that great of an example to her.
Bottom line, nobody talks to her about it. I did have conversations with her about sex before, but she was 11-12. She had a very typical young girl reaction like: "eww, I'm never having sex". I feel like now it's time to bring the topic back.
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#4 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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I have caught my 9 year old son looking up porn on the computer. I say if no one else is talking to her about it then you need to. I had talked with my kids about sex but ended up having a very in depth talk that day that was more specific and also talked about porn and female image etc. He has not looked at it since, though he has come to me with new questions. I had the same talk with my dd that day because I found out that she knew he had been on porn sites before and kept it a secret.

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#5 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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It sounds like curiosity. I would not talk to her about what your views about porn are, since that will pretty much shut down any convo she might want to have with you about related subjects (thinking that if you think porn is degrading to the human soul, you might think sex in general is degrading, or that her own soul is degraded if she enjoys watching it.)

If you want to keep the lines of communication open, maybe send her a nice copy of our bodies ourselves, and tell her you love her.
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#6 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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Some thoughts:

1. Do establish a healthy relationship with her, gain her trust, make sure she knows you love her unconditionally.

2. Don't be judgmental. While we may not approve of porn and may be dangerous for dn to be looking at it, curiosity about sex in natural, healthy, and important. I wouldn't come at her about her looking at the porn, but open up topics for discussion about her sexual interests, experiences, worries, etc.

3. Keep trying. Obviously, not all the time and constantly, but keep trying to open up lines of communication.

4. Talk to her mother. Let her know all of this and ask her if it's ok for you to chat about this with her dd.

5. Discuss internet safety, sexual safety, etc. Ask her about birth control, does she know about her choices? Does she know how to get help if a man/boy is trying to assault her?

I remember at that age I was very curious about my body and all the fun things it could do... I wasn't active until my later teens but I sure do wish I had someone to talk about it all with, in a non-judgmental manner. My crazy uber-catholic mother would just smack me call me a whore and drag me to church if she knew I was hanging with the boys...How I wish that whole experience came out differently...
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#7 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
I would like to say something to my niece, but not sure how to approach it. I would like to tell her my opinion about porn (which is negative...I actually find it disgusting and totally degrading to human soul).
Anytime I feel a need to voice my opinion I take a step back and spend a few minutes thinking about why and whether what I'm going to say is going to open someone up, open up dialogue or shut a person and the possibility of dialogue down. Is what I'm wanting to say more about me getting something off my chest and being heard because I feel upset about something that doesn't really effect me than it is about hearing someone's response or about an exchange between two people? And then if I still feel I'm not motivated by my needs then I look at how I can open up a dialogue (and not just give an opinion) in a way that invites the other party to share and not close down. With a 13 year old and porn that would be really important and tricky. She'll want to feel like her actions aren't just a soap box moment, IYKWIM.

13 and being curious and even viewing porn isn't out of the range of normal. She's most likely talked with friends about sex, maybe engaged in it herself, has questions, etc etc. I'd mention DH had spoken to me about the porn he saw and if she has any questions or concerns about what she saw or about sex in general you will answer any of them. And if the conversation progressed I'd present all sides when it comes to porn because there are so many and if I turn it into a porn=bad talk she's going to shut down, or feel shamed (despite any best intentions) about viewing it or feel you're too old and disconnected from her etc....and if you have a general discussion about sex, society and porn and the different views on women in the industry you'll be able to let her know your concerns without it being just about your views which will most likely shut her down. There are so many different styles of porn and production and treatment of women out there and teens can be very sensitive to feeling like they're only getting one side of the story.
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#8 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 05:01 PM
 
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I'd tend to agree with fek&fuzz. I remember quite clearly my curiosity at that age, and my utter mortificaton if an older authority-type figure attempted to engage me in conversation about sex(or activities and exploration that I thought were private). I'd give her some straightforward written info in the form of a book, or email her a link to a website such as Scarleteen.
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#9 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 05:12 PM
 
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Ok, I am loving the scarleteen!
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#10 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 05:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
I feel like now it's time to bring the topic back.
I agree. I don't think most porn is really a positive first experience with understanding what sex can be.
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#11 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 05:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
It sounds like curiosity. I would not talk to her about what your views about porn are, since that will pretty much shut down any convo she might want to have with you about related subjects (thinking that if you think porn is degrading to the human soul, you might think sex in general is degrading, or that her own soul is degraded if she enjoys watching it.)

If you want to keep the lines of communication open, maybe send her a nice copy of our bodies ourselves, and tell her you love her.
Yeah ITA with that.
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#12 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 06:46 PM
 
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Personally, I think the issue with porn and tweens and teens is that porn is not a healthy view of sexuality. I would talk to your neice but focus the conversation on what goes into a healthy and respectful sexual relationship. In addition to being unrealistic and not considering issues of real and mature sexual relationships (such as birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional responsibilities), porn is often degrading in imagery and act. I don't think that discussing porn as an absement of sexuality is wrong- in fact I think it is essential in guiding children into their own maturity. Telling kids porn is wrong but sexuality is beautiful surely can be done, and it is something they need to hear from an honest and open adult.

If it were me, I'd begin by discussing what a healthy sexual relationship is- respectful, consenting, mutually pleasureable, requiring of maturity and responsibility, etc. I would connect sex and love. And, of course, pleasure and appreciation of the human body. And I would bring up that porn is pretty much the opposite of all that. I would discuss why porn is out there and who it is intended for and if necessary, I would discuss specific images or acts and why they are inacurate or degrading. I would try to emphasize how a healthy sexual relationship can be an integral part of a fulfilled mature relationship and how sexuality can be an ultimate act of trust and connection.

I'm sure we all have been through a period of sexual curiosity and the most available material is always porn. But we as concerned and loving adults have to put aside our own discomfort and directly confront those issues lest the image of the woman in the stilletos who just can't wait to please her man (any man?) and uses her body as her basis for fleeting and degrading relationships will be an image that sticks for a lifetime. I believe it is possible to replace that with an image of sexuality that is fulfilling and trusting and elevating and an expression of love and hope.

Also, tweens and teens may make many motions of eye-rolling, gross noises and maybe hostility and embarassment with a sex talk with an adult.... but they listen. It gets through. Even if you walk away going "That was not helpful", most likely the next time she is in a situation in which she has an underlying feeling of "something is not right" she will remember your words, even if she would never admit it. With tweens and teens, it feels like talking to a brick wall, but they really are hearing you... It is a common misconception that tweens and teens don't listen to their adults. They just for some reason need to listen with lots of disgusted sighs and obnoxious facial expressions...
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#13 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 07:00 PM
 
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Telling kids porn is wrong but sexuality is beautiful surely can be done, and it is something they need to hear from an honest and open adult.
.......

But we as concerned and loving adults have to put aside our own discomfort and directly confront those issues lest the image of the woman in the stilletos who just can't wait to please her man (any man?) and uses her body as her basis for fleeting and degrading relationships will be an image that sticks for a lifetime.
Not all porn is as you described and making it out to be kills the chances of discussing porn openly and honestly. For one it assumes the kind of porn the 13 year old was viewing was straight, based on male pleasure etc which is a very narrow understanding of porn. If it's going to be a discussion with an open and honest adult then the adult has to be open and honest and for me that would include talking about all porn and would include views other than my own.

I agree with discussing sexual health, for sure. I think I'd stick with that.
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#14 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 07:10 PM
 
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I suppose that is true, I just have never seen or heard of porn (straight or gay) that depicted sexuality within a trusting and healthy relationship. There are lots of acts that may deviate from the more traditional sexual experiences that can be fulfilling and pleasureable, but the fundamental context of pornographic relationships do not depict them within a healthy or loving situation.

And there may be some porn aimed at women, but the industry is undeniably fueled by men and money and have strong undercurrents of power, domination, and objectivity of sexual partners and of sex often as an anynomous, isolated physical act (frequently between strangers or taboo parters) performed for the purpose of male gratification. Even women who are "enjoying themselves" are usually still focused on male pleasure and their enjoyment is often what men would like women to enjoy, not what may actually be pleasureable to them.

I'm sure porn varies for different audiences, but I still belive that this is the bulk of what is out there and easy to find.
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#15 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 07:14 PM
 
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don't yet have a teen, but my response would depend on the type of porn we're talking about.... like Playboy centerfold? Or something more? Something with kids? And such... because what type of material it is might determine what sort of questions or concerns she might have about it. You're kind of on shaky ground as the non-parent here, but I think you can discuss openly your views on porn, her views (if any) on porn, why you think it's a bad idea, etc.
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#16 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 07:22 PM
 
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Not all porn is as you described and making it out to be kills the chances of discussing porn openly and honestly. For one it assumes the kind of porn the 13 year old was viewing was straight, based on male pleasure etc which is a very narrow understanding of porn.
I think it is likely a fair reflection of what a 13 year old is likely to find for free online.
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#17 of 21 Old 02-16-2008, 09:51 PM
 
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I agree. I don't think most porn is really a positive first experience with understanding what sex can be.
That.
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#18 of 21 Old 02-18-2008, 11:13 PM
 
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Telling kids porn is wrong but sexuality is beautiful surely can be done, and it is something they need to hear from an honest and open adult.
I completely agree with this, and everything you said, alexsam.

I also highly recommend myspace.com/stoppornculture - not for a 13-yr-old, necessarily, but for adults who care about 13 year olds.
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#19 of 21 Old 02-19-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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Poor kid. I would definitely talk to her openly. She's getting the wrong impression of what healthy sex from a woman's perspective is and the only way for her to learn otherwise is for someone like you to tell her.
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#20 of 21 Old 02-19-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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Personally, I think the issue with porn and tweens and teens is that porn is not a healthy view of sexuality. I would talk to your neice but focus the conversation on what goes into a healthy and respectful sexual relationship. In addition to being unrealistic and not considering issues of real and mature sexual relationships (such as birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional responsibilities), porn is often degrading in imagery and act. I don't think that discussing porn as an absement of sexuality is wrong- in fact I think it is essential in guiding children into their own maturity. Telling kids porn is wrong but sexuality is beautiful surely can be done, and it is something they need to hear from an honest and open adult.

If it were me, I'd begin by discussing what a healthy sexual relationship is- respectful, consenting, mutually pleasureable, requiring of maturity and responsibility, etc. I would connect sex and love. And, of course, pleasure and appreciation of the human body. And I would bring up that porn is pretty much the opposite of all that. I would discuss why porn is out there and who it is intended for and if necessary, I would discuss specific images or acts and why they are inacurate or degrading. I would try to emphasize how a healthy sexual relationship can be an integral part of a fulfilled mature relationship and how sexuality can be an ultimate act of trust and connection.

I'm sure we all have been through a period of sexual curiosity and the most available material is always porn. But we as concerned and loving adults have to put aside our own discomfort and directly confront those issues lest the image of the woman in the stilletos who just can't wait to please her man (any man?) and uses her body as her basis for fleeting and degrading relationships will be an image that sticks for a lifetime. I believe it is possible to replace that with an image of sexuality that is fulfilling and trusting and elevating and an expression of love and hope.

Also, tweens and teens may make many motions of eye-rolling, gross noises and maybe hostility and embarassment with a sex talk with an adult.... but they listen. It gets through. Even if you walk away going "That was not helpful", most likely the next time she is in a situation in which she has an underlying feeling of "something is not right" she will remember your words, even if she would never admit it. With tweens and teens, it feels like talking to a brick wall, but they really are hearing you... It is a common misconception that tweens and teens don't listen to their adults. They just for some reason need to listen with lots of disgusted sighs and obnoxious facial expressions...

I agree with this 100%. Beautifully written.
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#21 of 21 Old 02-20-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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Uummmm...just wanted to mention the fact that is totally possible for a 13 yr old to actually be HAVING sex and not just watching it- sorry. But I think a frank and non-judgemental discussion of sexual responsibility is in order-including std's and birth control.
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