Join Club Momme for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts and more!

Sign up

So ... Your Kid's Watching Porn

Latin American teenager lounging on his bed with a laptop.
Photograph by Getty Images

For many years I have worked as a coach assisting young women in finding the inspiration, direction and wisdom they need as they move into adulthood. This work can be very gratifying, as I get to offer a service and wisdom that wasn’t available to me when I was in my late teens and early twenties.

I have the opportunity to speak with young women about the issues, secrets and concerns they live with and I believe I get more than I give. I get the gift of being a steady source of compassion. I hear each concern with an open heart and do my best to assure them they are on the right path. I often remind my clients that as adults they will at times fail, feel hopeless and endure many struggles. I encourage them not to beat themselves up when they don’t meet their goals and to celebrate themselves when they excel. But most importantly, I explain that life is a long journey (not to be conquered, but enjoyed!), and there is much ahead of them at age 25. “Take your time,” is my most frequent advice.

RELATED: How to Teach Your Kid About Sex as Soon as She Pops Out of You

I talk with these young women about every topic. Nothing is off the table, and I make sure they feel comfortable talking with me about their most private activities, including their sexual encounters. Many years ago I realized that most of my peers, 40-somethings, had not been educated about sex by their mothers or grandmothers or other women in their families. Most of us learned about sex from our peers or our first lovers, and well, that meant it was years before we really knew much. For many of my peers, sex was truly about pleasing their partners. Mutual pleasure was rare, at least for the first several years of being sexually active.

The most shocking realization came from learning that it wasn’t the young man who was having the problem, but the young woman, who had watched porn and learned that women are aggressive, sexy performance artists.

Recently one of my clients came to a session with her boyfriend. This wasn’t the first time she’d invited him along, so I wasn’t surprised and certainly didn’t mind that a 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were committed enough to seek help from a life/love coach. Once we checked in with greetings the young woman said that she wanted her boyfriend there because they were having sexual challenges and needed some support moving through this issue.

We talked about the details of their challenges, and I was shocked to learn that the issue seemed to be derived from the culture of pornography readily available to all via the internet. The most shocking realization came from learning that it wasn’t the young man who was having the problem, but the young woman, who had watched porn and learned that women are aggressive, sexy performance artists.

“She rushes during sex and puts her body weight on me in a way that hurts. I’ve tried to talk with her, get her to be present with me but she refuses to talk about this,” he said.

She sat there with tears streaming down her face and onto her shirt. I could see her fear. I wondered to myself, how does this happen to people who are so early in their love and sexual journey?

There was one thing I felt strongly about after our session. Parents must take responsibility for what their children know about sex. If parents don't, the internet will highjack their children’s sexuality, self-esteem and capacity to relate intimately. We live in a different time than when most of us were raised. The porn that our children and young adults access is far more explicit and damaging than anything we experienced.

What do I mean when I suggest parents take responsibility for what their children are learning about sex?

1. Have detailed personal conversation about sex with your teen and young adult children who are exploring sexuality. Be willing to share your emotions about sexual encounters. Let your children see your vulnerability.

2. Teach your daughters and sons that pornography is acting and not an authentic depiction of sex.

3. Explain what sex should feel like when two people care about one another. Talk about heart connections, giving and receiving pleasure and responsible sexual practices.

4. Teach your children about their bodies and how their genitals work. Talk candidly about erections and vaginal arousal. Speak honestly and confidently about sexual development with age-appropriate language.

5. Be sure that your children’s first conversation about sex is with you. Don’t let their peers introduce the concept of sex and pleasure to them. Create safety, confidence and trust early.

RELATED: Michelle Obama Nailed It in Her Last Commencement Speech as First Lady

In my years working with young women, I’ve heard stories of date rape as some women’s first encounter. I’ve explained that shaving your vagina is not something you do because a young man requires it. I’ve coached young women to understand that sex is about mutual pleasure and intimacy and not about performing.

Over the years I’ve continued to see that parents are not doing their jobs to teach and inform their children about an inevitable experience. Sex is a guaranteed choice for most teens and young adults. Yes, it’s difficult to discuss, but if we do not, we leave our children in the hands of pornographers. We certainly cannot prevent access to porn forever, but if we intercept with honest and open conversations, we can build trust that may prevent misunderstandings about one of the most human experiences and pleasures available.

Share this on Facebook?

More from kids