My oldest is getting to the age where I wonder if I should start worrying about internet filters, online predators and online porn.  However, part of me wonders if I am just being overly cautious due to my past in Mormonism where porn was the most vilest evils ever, even though neither me nor my wife fret over porn anymore.  Also, being in Utah, I still get wind from local news on TV and Radio regarding kids as young as 8-10 stumbling across porn on accident.  I'm hoping some of you can share your experience with children, teens and pornography, both the precautions you've taken, and the open discussions you've had with your kids.  I know from my own teen years that teenagers are raging with hormones and will generally find one way or another to jackoff but also may not be emotionally mature enough to engender realistic expectations about sex when only learning from porn.  Looking forward to the discussion, and thanks in advance! 

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Well, even though I am thoroughly out of the Morg, I have to admit that I still detest porn. Perhaps I'm not the most open minded person to ask about this...nevertheless, I'll post my opinion anyways. I feel that pornography is very damaging, and especially when introduced to a youngster. I actually grew up in a non-religious home, and would often find porn stashed in one spot or another. I distinctly remember thinking that if I wanted boys to like me, I needed to look and act like the girls I saw in those magazines. Fast forward 20 years, and just after I decided to leave Mormonism I found out that my husband had been hiding a porn addiction from me for years. He was TBM,and of course going through all the guilt that goes with being Mormon and having a porn problem. It was honestly devastating for me. Literally, I had a breakdown. I couldn't handle everything crashing at once. Our marriage is recovering from this, but it has taken A LOT of work.

I think that porn promotes a culture of sexual selfishness. I think a lot of people are damaged in the production of porn, let alone the distribution of it. I don't think that is healthy for anyone, regardless of what church they go to (or don't go to). For me personally, porn has done a lot of damage and I therefore protect my children from it by having filters on the computer and monitoring their media.

I was born and raised in Utah, brought up in a very traditional Mormon family.  My parents never spoke to me about sex at all. I learned on my own, from my friends, and some of it at a very young age and inappropriate for that time in my life.  I too had it drummed into me that generally speaking sex was secretive and not something discussed, which as a kid I automatically interpreted as something I needed to explore.  My thoughts with my own kids have been much different.  My wife and I promised that we would be open and honest with our kids with any questions they had.  As a child therapist I've always counseled the parents I've worked with to answer the questions their kids are asking honestly with the right, most updated information.  Don't give them information they're not asking about as that will come in time.  I've had very open discussions with all of my teenagers about sex, masturbation, contraception, pornography, etc.  I've always encouraged them to wait to engage in sex until they're ready, not because it's bad or dirty, but because I think they need to understand the consequences (i.e., pregnancy, love, relationships, etc.).  I would rather buy my 15 y/o son a box of condoms with the full understanding of sex and all the ramifications than have him experiment unprotected and have unwanted consequences.  My feeling has been that if they are going to experiment with sex or pornography they will find a way to do it whether or not I'm talking to them or not.  I'd rather them know they can come to me with any questions and that I won't freak out, judge, or condemn.  I do think that younger children who's brains are still developing should not be exposed to pornography or other things so we've put filters and parental controls on the TV's and computers.  Our computer is in a centralized location and up until they were teenagers we didn't allow them to have a computer or a TV in their rooms.  Just my two cents.  

I'm probably the worst person to give parenting advice.  Mine are in their 30's, and while we have beautiful, fully open communicable relationships, I was far too lenient in raising them.  My parents were so cold and strict, my mother with-held every inch of closeness and fondness she could possibly muster for me, and I determined that my children would feel loved, so they were allowed to tell me anything with any language, have condoms at their disposal, even though with one that didn't work, and miss school at the hint of illness.  My mother always made me attend school after one day of illness, regardless of high fever, strept throat, you name it, declaring, "You've had your fun, now go back to school."  My teen son had lesbian porn in his room, how he got it I still don't know, and all I did was talk with him about how that objectified women, how it made me uncomfortable having it there, blah blah blah.  So if you have a pre-teen, definitely look into some kind of filter for the computer.  He/she needs some time for the brain cells to develop in order to know how to protect him/herself from people who may not have good interest at hand.

Internet filters, are wonderful... I use them on any pc that a child goes on from 3 and up. I use it to when looking for thing for a child.. Little story of why.. my only daughter wanted paper dolls.. I went online to look for something I could print out for her.. I typed in parer dolls.. and bam I got a porn sight. She was not in the room at that moment ..I am so grateful for that, all that to say it makes thing so much better to have a filter on when working with a child on the pc or there on the pc...  

I have to agree with those who said open and honest conversation with your kids is critical. I second Spencer's idea that you answer their question and don't give more info beyond what they ask as it will come in time.

As for porn, I can relate to WoahNellie because my husband and I have had some serious issues. He was introduced to porn and its accompanying actions, WAY to young and then punished by the great brethern of the morg for years when he didn't cope with it 'righteously'. I only fault him for some of it because the adults in his life are responsible for a child. Anywho, as we married it spilled into our marriage and almost destroyed it. Their are so many other ways of enjoying sex than just objectifying women and making us feel inferior because we will never look the way those airbrused model looks.

 When it comes to kids we have to teach them about sex, not scare the crap out of them and tell them it is evil like the morg did to me. I suggest things like watching a movie that has a lot of sex scenes or a movie about people having sex for various reasons and discussing it with your child, letting them ask lots of questions along the way. "The Joy of Sex" is a great book! It covers the basics and a lot more, it has a lot of graphic pictures but it isn't porn, its education, IMO.

Essentially, sex is a part of life and an important one. We just have to teach our kids that their is a "time and a place" for it and the consequences, both good and bad that come with it. I think their are a host of better ways to expose our kids to sex than porn. If they do stumble across it, discuss it, talk about it - those discussions will formulate their perspective on things for the rest of their lives. I wouldn't let them leave the conversation feeling like they saw something horrid and evil, because that won't help, maybe have a chat about how it is being presented in an unrealistic format, etc.

FYI - I heard someone, I think it was Meghan McCain, say that Utah has the highest rate of porn download in the USA...interesting!!

Porn has an addiction rate that probably exceeds most other vices.  I'm not saying this as a moral statement, just as a cautionary one, because those with addictive tendencies can easily ruin their lives with this.  Most people don't want to go through 5 or 6 marriages, or committed relationships, because they can't leave their private parts and other people's alone.  I do remember finding condoms in my 15 year old son's bedroom-actually he may have been younger-and the just of it was my husband was furious and wanted them out of there, and wanted us to have a good old parental bitch out with him.  I won that round, and continued buying him condoms.  Because once that boundary has been crossed, it ainta gonna go back to virginity.

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