Did you know that girls are just as susceptible to the negative impacts of pornography usage as boys, and they can get hooked just as fast? Conversation goes a long way as a parent. If your sons and daughters know they can come to you, and you provide a “no freak out” rule for yourself, you can do a lot to protect them from addiction.
Freak Out Game
Recently, I heard a great idea for practicing important conversations with your children. This is the “Freak Out” game. In this role-playing game, you play you, and your children play themselves. The difference here is how you respond. It’s the children’s job to leave the room, create a story they just know will freak you out, then come back in and tell it. Your job? Stay calm. No matter what, you can’t freak out, or you lose. A “freak out” looks like frustration, loss of words, anger, laughing, preaching, etc. Basically, the only way parents win is if they stay supportive, calm, and open. Parents don’t have to think whatever Jr. comes up with is OK, but Mom and Dad must play it cool! Let’s call it practice for real-life.
Exposure is common. Breathe.
Because the world is so tech and sex saturated, we need to be able to have these conversations with all our children. Girls are not immune to pornography any more than they are immune to bad grades, the flu, or underage drinking. If parents are well informed and can remain calm, safety is created in the relationship, and your children will trust you more later. Practice on the little things, and on things that are low-risk. If handled well, the chances of your child talking to you when the stakes are high go way up. It still won’t always be comfortable, but it will be more comfortable.
A human condition, not a male problem.
We need to stop seeing pornography addiction as a male problem. All addiction is a human condition. Sex-based addictions are no different. Realizing porn usage and exposure are just part of our children’s growing up will help. Yes, you want to protect your children from any type of abuse or addiction. However, the reality is, they need a safe place for the aftermath. You—Mom and Dad—are their first line of defense. You are also the first responders when bad things happen. Be informed, stay calm, and act (not react) in order to heal and recover with your child.
Let’s be clear: Addiction does not discriminate by race, religion, or gender. You must be talking to your children. And when all else fails, breathe, call another parent to decompress, then get back in the game. You can do this!
Lacy Bentley is founder and president of the non-profit organization, Women United Recovery Coalition (@WURCTogether). She is also a life coach and public speaker on the harmful effects of pornography addiction, unhealthy relationship dynamics, and overcoming perfectionism. She seeks to empower women to stand up and be counted in the war on the harmful messages all forms of sexualized media sent to the rising generation. Lacy@WURCTogether.org