How Should We Handle Our Daughter Watching Porn & Masturbating in Our Room?

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 07:18
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I saw an article about you Last week on Huffington Post and so I thought you might be a good resource for some questions we have.

My wife and I have a good marriage and we have two kids. Our daughter is 13 and has)been spending all her free time in her room. And then about a month ago she starting asking us before our "date night" out, what city were we eating at and what restaurant, and what time were we going to be home. She has been relentless in getting answers to these questions.

We were not quite sure why until a couple of weeks ago when we came home early and my wife caught her masturbating with her clothes on in our bedroom. My wife pretended not to notice but then when she picked up my daughter's tablet computer, she discovered a hard-core porn website called youporn.com. Our daughter does not know that we found her tablet with that webpage up. Of course we were quite surprised and shocked to see this however it brought the pieces of the puzzle together.

My wife and I have a somewhat decent sexual relationship (although we do have some minor issues for sure) and we are pretty open-minded, however we are not sure how to deal with this latest situation.

One of my clients is a Love and Logic parenting course teacher and has told us to just have a conversation with her where we let her know that online pornography is highly addictive, Not reflective of realistic relationships between people, and that they are actors, and how would she feel if her grandparents or other people she respected new what she was doing.

Our daughter seems pretty well-adjusted, she just had her bat mitzvah and did very well. She does better than than average in school and is involved in drama and student Council. She has a good network of friends and family, well supported by all. So all in all, life is good and she has a great environment.

Now coming back to the issue of handling this pornography thing is where I am curious. I'm not sure what to do because one of our friends says just block the porn sites with parental guidance software and my therapist friend client says to just have a talk with her and let her choose to watch or not. We want sex for her to be empowering, liberating and enjoyable and we don't want to condemn her.

Is there anything you might suggest we do besides give her access to your website? (That was kind of a joke, but maybe not). Maybe we need a counseling session with you so let me know and I look for to hearing back from you, hopefully soon.

All my best,
M

Dear Dad,

If she wasn't checking out porn it would be a more serious problem. First and foremost do NOT prohibit or block porn. And avoid any future shaming such as, "how would she feel if her grandparents or other people she respected new what she was doing?" She's a healthy sexually curious young woman going through puberty.

Blocking or shaming will only make it more desirable. By all means let her read around our website. Get my book "Sex for One" and simply put on your bookshelf but do NOT give it to her to read. She's at the age where teens are wanting to separate from parental guidance. Another good website is Scarlet Teen. We have many links to the use and misuse of porn. It's a sorry state of affairs. America censors decent sex information and education but allows porn total freedom because it's sexual entertainment for men.

I find it curios that she was in your bedroom and not her own. Does this have anything to do with your wireless connection? My business partner Carlin and I do weekly You Tubes every Friday. We talk about different sexual issues in an easy manner with sex information that is based upon equal orgasms instead of the awful pretense of porn with women screaming to please men with all those faked orgasms. Seriously suggest our website with information chosen by two sex postive feminists fighting for women's equal rights including orgasms in the bedroom. If you and your wife visit us and find it not appropriate, I will repeat myself. We are one of the rare solutions to hardcore porn.

You don't need a counseling session but if you want to speak via phone let me know and once I have your phone number, I can call you when it's convenient for both of us. There is no charge for this but we always appreciate donations to the Betty A Dodson Foundation, Inc. We are an educational foundation.

All the best,
Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

There is also a site - I

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 13:30
An Na (not verified)

There is also a site - I think it's called bright ideas or something similar. Just search for feminist porn or porn made by women. Let her see the difference between bad quality porn and good quality porn. Everything else in life comes as better or worse quality. Why go for something crap when there's good stuff out there? Sounds like she's a smart girl and she will see the difference for herself.
(I am a mother too but my children are still young... I wonder if I change my open mind when THEY are older)
When I discovered Betty's site I told myself that I will make it available to my children at the earliest opportunity. Now it's just a matter of figuring out when is not too early - and not too late!
A

Give her some space

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 14:37

I very much agree with Dr Betty on this. Shaming a young person who has just discovered sexual feelings is incredibly damaging. At the same time, being intrusive or overly involved with her blossoming sexuality would also be very uncomfortable for her. A site like Youporn has some Hollywood-style porn with fake orgasms, but it also has a variety of other kinds of material such as real couples filming their lovemaking. All explicit material is not the same; some is ugly and commercial, and some features genuine orgasms and loving, passionate couples. There is also material which might frankly be confusing to a young person, such as BD/SM. Rather than blocking all explicit sites, it might be best to make sure that she has free access to sex-positive material that also teaches respect for oneself and one's partners. She has been raised in a loving home, so she already has a good start.

Besides D&R, Dr Betty mentions Scarleteen.com, which is a great resource for adolescents your daughter's age. There is also Cherrytv.com, which features a diverse group of young women in their twenties and thirties having frank and supportive round-table discussions about any and all aspects of sex, including growing up, masturbation, first experiences, etc. Your daughter is perfectly normal, and I would suggest making plenty of helpful information available to her and then letting her discover sex in her own way and in her own time.

Sex ed all around

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 16:22
Anonym (not verified)

M, I think it's great that you reached out to Dr. Betty! I think that's almost the better part of the "story" here! 

Betty, you were able to educate two generations at once here. It's fantastic. And what a perfect way to kick off your Foundation work. Congratulations on getting that letter from the IRS! Did you pop a bottle of sparkly then? :-) 

Last thing I'd like to say... there is quite a bit of personal information in the letter. Whether your daughter will visit dodsonandross.com or not, somebody could identify you from these descriptions. Maybe you don't care, but maybe your daughter does... I just think this could be edited a bit without taking greatness from the post!

Straight goods about porn doesn't include 'porn is bad'.

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 00:57
sexplainer (not verified)

I agree with Betty that shaming your kid is the wrong approach.  Here are some of my suggestions:

1) Reassure your kid.  (re)state that sex is a good thing, masturbation is good and healthy and normal.  that getting turned on by sexy pictures or stories is good and healthy and normal too.
2) Explain what you found and let her know you are concerned.
3) Explain that porn is made to turn people on but that it is made for adults.  Unfortunatley, the internet makes porn really accessible to kids too. 
4) This is a problem because some (alot) of kids don't get comprehensive info about sex and may think that what they see in porn is what most people do when having sex, which just isn't the case.  Porn is performance.  There is prep (bleaching, shaving, plumping), direction, lighting, camera angles, editing. 
5) Explain that porn can be a great tool for developing what turns a person on but that when a person is young, it's a good idea to develop ones imagination where sex is concerned.  Explain that seeing a naked picture of someone or a photo of people having sex, can be a turn on but leaves a person to imagine the rest, to create a story that is sexy.  Young people, all people, can be well served by exploring their own fantasy life rather than letting the mainstream porn industry dictate it for them.
6) Explain that you would prefer them to not visit porn websites. (if that's the case)
7) Stock up or lead your kid to Anais Nin, Gynomite: Fearless, Feminist Porn edited by Liz Belile, and any of the collections of Best of Women's Erotica.  Ad a book of sexy, erotic photography to the bookshelf.
8) You could explain how some/alot of porn can be male-focused, manipulative, degrading. Offer alternatives to mainstream porn, so that if she is to watch, she can  investigate feminist porn or sites like Make Love Not Porn.
9) Finish the convo (keep it as short as possible- avoid lecturing) with more positives.  That you think people figuring out what gives them pleasure is a great thing.
Fyi, my website, www.sexplainer.com is for parents wanting to raise sex smart and sex satisfied kids. 
Good luck!

Thank you www.sexplainer.com

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:40

I visited your website and liked it a lot. The very best education is listening to how other enlightened parents are handling our over-sexed media in a society that is strugging to enjoy their own sexuality. Sharing your personal experiences with your own chidren is the best way to counter hardcore porn standing in for sex education.

D&R is making a dent by offering sex information and education that is based on women's sexual interests and desires. Online porn is meant to be entertainment for masturbating men. And censorship is never the answer. Better sex information and education will be the healing.

Thanks for touching base with us sexplainer.

PS. Also thank you Anonym for your suggestion. I did edit a few lines after reading your comment.

Explaining 'porn' to kids

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 13:29

There are so many good suggestions here. I do think that the word 'porn' means different things to different people, and that it's helpful to define our terms. Most of D&R's regular readers mean 'mainstream porn' when they talk about pornography: the kind of exploitive, Viagra-fueled, and usually degrading productions supposedly designed to 'entertain'. We all understand what this is, and I agree that this kind of material gives a totally wrong impression of what sex should be about. But even Betty's films would be called 'porn' by the sex-negative crowd.

The majority of explicit material on a site like Youporn is probably not commercial porn, however, which is copyrighted. Most of it is likely to be clips sent in by users, video recorded from someone's webcam, and so on. It can be anything, in other words, and young people need to have a context in which to interpret what they might come across. While blocking web sites is not the answer, I agree that it would be very helpful to explain to a young person the different kinds of things that can be encountered on an 'adult site', and why they may not be truthful or wholesome representations of what good sex with a loving partner is really about. There is tasteful erotic material available; I took a quick look at 'Make Love Not Porn', and they seem to be doing what I wish there was a lot more of: featuring real couples making real love. Explicit material can be sex-positive and educational as well as erotic. Kids will encounter examples of every kind of 'porn' there is sooner or later, and we need to help them to understand what good, loving sex is all about so that they will know the exploitive kind when they inevitably do come across it.

Some Practical Thoughts

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 14:34

Sexplainer and Betty have given excellent advice.

You may want to think carefully about which of you, possibly both, will have the conversation and where. With my two girls (aged 16 &14) it's almost always me who ends up with these conversations. We seem to have our trickiest discussions in the car. It's easier to talk about sex when we have something else going on to distract us and reduce the tension. Sitting side by side seems to reduce any sense of confrontation or interrogation. It also sets a time limit, a start and end time which usually helps.

You might want to ask her a couple of open questions, like why and what she thought of what she saw in the videos she was watching. It is entirely possible that there is some peer pressure or boyfriend pressure pushing porn or sex. Equally she could just be curious and exploring for herself. The reasons for accessing porn sites and her own reaction to them may well influence where you decide to take the conversation next.

Clearly sex shaming is damaging so should be avoided but ignoring the situation isn't really tenable. Girls need to know that mainstream porn is fiction, neither good nor bad, but certainly not real. Women and men don't naturally look like that. Sex doesn't look or sound like that in a real-life situation.

She is obviously entitled to her privacy and respecting her boundaries is important. The trickiest parenting job seems to be balancing that against your very normal need to know that she's safe. Good luck.

From a teenagers perspective

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 23:11

As a teen I'd have to say that Betty is spot on with the book idea. This exact situation actually happened between me and my mother when I was younger. I'd been typing things like "Masturbation" and "Orgasm" into Google, but was too young to know how to delete the search history. Although the book She left on our book shelf wasn't Betty's it still covered masturbation and clitoral stimulation. She never tried to give me it to read or try to get me to ask questions, I read the book cover to cover and when I was done I naturally went to her with any additional curiosity.
Blocking the porn websites would create not only shame but Then she'd Also feel fear because of her invaded privacy, she'd obviously know you must have found out what She was doing. My suggestion would be if you have a family computer in the house to put dodsonandross onto the bookmarks bar and let her find it (She will, I assure you). 
Since I found this website before I had ever really watched any porn, when my friend actually convinced me to look it up I couldn't get five seconds into any video without completely critiquing it and rolling my eyes at how ridiculous most of it was. Without proper sex education I guess I could see how it could be enjoyable. 
Definitely go with the book idea, and if you see it appropriate, find a way to get her onto this site. Although I'd have to say if I were her and I found this Q&A I'd be a bit embarrassed (as anonymous stated). Like I said previously, after reading the information available here, you really do start to see just how male dominated and centered porn on those kinds of sites can be. 
Wishing you the best of luck in whatever you choose to do,

Melody 

Thanks for the input, Melody

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 00:17

It's great to hear from someone your age who has actually been through this situation and who had an understanding, wise parent. You're right, almost all commercial porn is terrible, although there is some by and for women (Candida Royalle, Petra Joy) and there must be some good erotica by men as well. It's interesting what you say about most porn being 'male-centered'. I think that in a real sense, Hollywood porn is 'nobody-centered'. It's a heartless, crass attempt to make money by showing men only what the porn producers think they want, by tapping into the most selfish, misogynistic currents in our society.

Because we have so little sex education that teaches young people the realities of enjoyable solo and partner sex, too many of us think that the lousy, disrespectful sex in porn films is actually what skilled lovemaking looks like. As Betty says, porn is a terrible substitute for real sex education. This is why her and Carlin's new project is so exciting. Thanks again for your thoughtful perspective.

And knowing is half the battle

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:49

Like the old GI Joe cartoon said every episode. :) Before deciding what to do about something, be it porn or anything else, learn about what you're wondering about. No end of academic studies studying the effects of pornography on adults as well as children. To sum up, there's empirical data showing early exposure to pornography is actually beneficial, not harmful. Google something like,

effects of pornography on adolescents

to get ya started. Or can 'skip to the end' as it were and browse this report,

http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/DIAM/effects_pornography.htm#_ftnf21

others include,

http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/2005to2009/2009-pornography-a...

Way we handle sex and porn in the west is counter to the rest of the planet which got over it a long time ago. Much of the negative impressions people have come from religion, and in particular Christianity. Is so much nonsense in the zeitgeist about sexuality from a Christian perspective that people are acting on quite honestly, outright lies.

Sexually explicit material does not lead areas which allow it to higher incidences of sexual crimes, in fact every scientific study ever conducted proves it lowers such crime. Every study ever conducted on the effects on children who see it only report good, or no change in behaviours.

Our American culture is so ass-backwards about sexuality it's not even funny any more. We demonize sexuality, the beauty of the naked human form, and pleasure while glorifying violence and cruelty calling it entertainment. When your culture does that, listening to experts from such a culture is not advisable.

Porn - Fictional Problem?

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 06:07

Jeffrey

No one here has suggested a link between porn and sex crimes or violence as per the research you cite.

As a parent, my major problem with porn is it's unrealistic depiction of sex and the fact that kids have very little good sex ed available to them to offset the fictional sex they watch on-line. A lot of the teenage boys my girl's have grown up with don't seem to realise that it's fiction.

My teenage girls and their friends have to deal with some very odd expectations from the boys they encounter, fuelled largely by the airbrushed, hair free, jumbo sized porn industry. It starts with the PIV sex assumption that women will follow the sex arousal pattern of men, come within a few minutes squirting like a waterfall etc.

There are a couple of girls we know were convinced by their boyfriends that they're not "normal" just because they didn't scream, shout and pee the bed in praise of his amazing phallus.

There is the girl whose first encounter with a boy naked involved him nearly fainting at the sight of an unshaven vulva then commenting "I'm not putting him in there!"

And there's the boy whose first date request was anal to avoid pregnancy because he didn't think that he'd like the feel of condoms.

I'm a fairly liberal parent but have to acknowledge how access to on-line porn has totally changed the environment for young sex from when I was a kid and not obviously for the better. There seems a lot more body-shaming, a lot more performance anxiety and sex just seems a lot more prescriptive and altogether less fun for these kids.

Porn as a teen's first source of 'sex ed'

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 18:50

Countries that are liberal about nudity and sexual imagery have far lower rates of sexual violence that the relatively repressive United States. I've seen snitches of British sex-ed in which teen boys and girls were shown educational films together, then discussed them afterwards with an adult moderator in a question-and-answer session. I should think that sex education of this open sort is very rare in the US, and would certainly give rise to a storm of protests (if not a torchlit mob) from ultra-conservative American parents. Judging by the experiences of NLH's daughters and their friends, really comprehensive sex education must be rare in the UK as well.

But even though accurate sex information is now available online, the first sexual depictions most teens encounter are undoubtedly commercial porn, with all its phony orgasms, ridiculous screaming, and almost exclusive focus on machine gun-like PIV intercourse. In the absence of meaningful sex education, this is all most young people have to go by. It's no wonder that they get the idea that porn-style sex is what adult sex is supposed to be like. The only counteractant is sex education that teaches what genuine orgasms are all about and the real techniques that good lovers (and self-lovers) use to have them. We need to show teens a diversity of real, unaltered human bodies, too. Education, not censorship, is what will teach our kids how to tell lousy porn sex from genuinely sensual and orgasmic lovemaking. What I'd love to see is sex education so univeral and so effective that teens seeing a typical porn film for the first time would burst out laughing at how utterly ridiculous the porn version of sex really is.

Moving things forward

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:15

Patrick,
Sex Ed (SRE)  in the UK is patchy, ranging from full comprehensive sex ed with plenty of time to discuss the many issues that arise to the basic SRE every kid should receive covering the biology. And ofcourse parents are still free to remove their kids if they want.

In London, kids from one primary school will filter off into any number of different schools at 11 so we know a lot of teenage kids across a spectrum of schools, faith based, single sex or co-ed, through academic selective to comprehensive education.

There is a petitition through the everydaysexism group to put forward legislation reuqiring better, more comprehensive SRE across the UK. I'm really hoping it moves things forward.

Where to go from here

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 07:50

NLH,

I was impressed with the frankness of the UK sex education materials I saw (on Youtube). It was co-ed and the moderator was clearly a professional who knew what she was talking about. The very fact that, for example, sexual arousal was being discussed in the open seemed to make the whole subject acceptable and 'normal' to the teens, rather than something to be tittered about or regarded with shame. It seemed impressively better to me than anything likely to be common in US state schools (public schools), where teaching anything about sex at all is opposed by many conservatives. But what I didn't know was whether what I saw was the norm or not. It looks as if sex education (Sex and Relationships Education, which is a better designation) is more variable in the UK than I realized.

I believe there are similar petitions in the US, sponsored by SIECUS for example, but there is incredible obstruction from conservative, often evangelical sources. It's as if they're terrified that once children are 'informed' about genitals and learn that sex is extremely pleasurable, they'll go absolutely wild. We know that the opposite is true and that teen pregnancies fall, for example, when kids are well-informed, so I have to conclude that most of the opposition comes from acquired fear and discomfort with the whole subject of sexual enjoyment itself. Ironically, one of the best sex education efforts I've heard good things about is religiously based, from the shared program developed by the American branches of the Unitarian-Universalists and United Churches of Christ. They teach an ethical, caring approach to relationships, but I understand that they are also very sex-positive and encourage kids to learn about their bodies (and enjoy masturbation) rather than just give the standard lecture about sperm, eggs, and fallopian tubes. (The Sperm and Egg---sounds like a name for a pub. Wonder what its sign would look like?). I hope some of these petitions do move us forward in the right direction.

Getting a talk from your

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 19:25
Man's view (not verified)

Getting a talk from your parents about sex and porn - yuck! Your first reaction was right. Walk away and never mention it again. It is already embarrassing enough for her that you walk in on her.

That is one area of her life that is none of your business ever. Believe me, she doesn't want to know what you think, what you and your wife do and she certainly doesn't care what granny might think!

When she starts having sex with boys, you will miss the days when she only watched porn.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.