They were just born. Snuggled with you as you read, "I'll Love You Forever," and told you that they would never leave you because they loved you so much. Or so it seems. Because as any mother of a tween or teen knows, the days are long but the years are short...and if you haven't talked about porn yet with your children, you might want to consider it before someone else does. (Or already has.)


I had 'the talk' with my son two days after this past Thanksgiving. We were traveling back from the holiday visit with family, and it was just him and me driving later at night for a long trip home.

He's homeschooled, and in our health curriculum, we've been learning about anatomy, our bodies and puberty. As a brand new sixth grader, middle school became a new territory for him and for me. I'd been an elementary school teacher for many years, but talking with middle schoolers--my SON, no less--about the body and puberty and sex seemed...well, fast.

I wasn't nervous about it; like many of my peers (and my husband), our parents somewhat shied away from any 'talk,' and I did NOT want that for him. He's a smart kid with a pretty scientific brain, and if he hadn't already encountered things that made him question in his mind, he would ANY day now. I wanted him to be more prepared than my husband or I was, and I wanted him to hear about relationships and sex and all things accompanied from me--the truth, even if cringe at times.

More, because we did IVF to conceive him, I wanted to be upfront with things he may deal with in the future--ignorance about IVF in general.

So we started off with a general agreement that unless it was something I felt was unsafe and needed to be addressed, I wouldn't really question where any information he already had came from, and he could ask me anything he wanted, with a guarantee he'd get the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In detail.

It was a great talk. I was so surprised at how mature he was. We've always had pretty open conversations anyway, and I've always been one to give him as much detail about things as I could for his developmental age, so when we talked about sexual arousal, and he shared he imagined it was because dopamine was a powerful incentive, I knew I had to level up.

So I did, and I don't regret it at all. I asked him about what he and his friends talked about, to the level he felt comfortable sharing with me, and he gave me great talking points for which I could help him understand better.

I had planned to have the IVF conversation with his dad around, but he sort of jumped into that inadvertently, and we addressed it as well. Like I said, he's a pretty science-savvy kid and was intrigued and felt informed.

But I'll admit. As deep into the conversation as we got (and we went a LOT of places I wasn't expecting to but am 100% thankful we did), we brushed over porn.

It was a "some people like to see other people's body parts," and they "like to watch other people engage in sexual activity" kind of definition, followed by (and this is based on our faith-value system) "but it can be addicting and destroy relationships and frankly, is not something you need to see because your prefrontal cortex isn't really developed enough yet."

He was fine with that. At least at the surface.

But then, CommonSense Media put out a report that specifically addressed issues that relate to tweens/teens and porn, and found that while many 13-17 year-olds have discovered porn accidentally online, some by the time they were 10 or younger, a significant number said they viewed pornography online on a regular basis and with intentionality.

Ten. And if there are older siblings in the home, that could be younger.

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The report confirms that we need to talk with our kids. It may be uncomfortable. It may be earlier than you wish it was. It may be something your faith-based system shies away from. It may be something you think isn't an issue in your house. Maybe it's not...yet.

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It may be a million different things, but the truth is--only one matters and that's ensuring that your child is safe and you can continue to protect them as they grow. The world our tweens/teens live in is one that forces us to have the hard talks about everything from sex to drugs and alcohol and more.

I'm a pretty conservative mom. We live a fairly conservative life with lots of homeschool co-op kids and church activities.

That.is.not.enough.

If I'm really honest? The information my kid came back from church sleepaway camp with last year (at 11) made my insides scream, "But he's just a baby!"

It also made me realize that this is not a world in which 'sheltering' is protection and information for your child. There's truth to the adage that what is taboo is often also highly sought after--even in (maybe especially in?) 'church' kids.

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If you'd like to read the full report (and you should), you can find it here.

We all want to do what's best for our kids, and we know them the best.

Still, have to move away from judging moms because we'll talk about this stuff with our kids. A few times I've mentioned that we've had this talk and I instantly feel the, "Hmm. Well, not doing that with MY child," vibe. And that's okay. As an 'older mom,' I've pretty much become immune to judgement. One of the 'older mom' perks, I guess.

If you don't want to have the hard talks with them, I understand; they're hard. Most of us, like I did with my son, will talk about how this is a topic that is unique to each family in many respects because every family has a different value system. If you feel it's not the time for your tween/teen, that's obviously your privilege and preference.

I'm just saying, I hope the 'right time' isn't too late.

Infographics courtesy of CommonSenseMedia