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Question
Posted by: Anon for this | 2007/04/25

Pornography

I just need to vent - I'm so furious I can STRANGLE someone!!!!

My son is 13 years old. He's a soft-spoken kid that's only recently been starting to show any signs of becoming a teenager (hormones: slightly moody but nothing unbearable; some pimples around the chin-area which he's never had etc. etc.). I know my child really well - we are close and we talk about a lot of stuff, although granted, I KNOW that kids don't talk to their parents about everything. I know I didn't. I'm 32, he's 13 so yes, I had him quite early in my life, but it never impacted him in a negative way, I got married to his dad before he was born and everything was perfectly fine - my point is, I'm not an old mom so to speak and I'm much younger than most of his friends' parents, we all have the same taste in music for example, however my hubby and I have always tried to be PARENTS to him which I believe we've done successfully.

Just last night, he was asking my husband and me how old we were when we had our first kiss and with whom it was. (He really fancies this girl in his school - she's a prefect and yesterday he's plucked up the courage for the first time to ask her for her number, so I thought maybe it had something to do with this). So hubby and I answered him as we best knew how. I'm guessing he's contemplating kissing this girl, but he's still trying to figure out how to accomplish that. That's fine - it's innocent enough and we all remember how that first kiss was.

This past weekend, he suddenly brought home a 'new friend' who seems older than him - is quite a bit bigger and comes across more 'mature' if you know what I mean. I've never heard of this child before and suddenly he was sleeping over at our house?? Okey, I have no problems with that - I know they're in school together and I suppose that set my mind at ease, although not completely because something about this kid BUGGED me to such an extent that I said on Saturday we'd made other plans and my son couldn't go visit at his house. I thought at first maybe I was just being a snob because I couldn't put my finger on exactly what about this child was worrying me. I left it at that. At school my son is friends with a bunch of kids and this other one used to be an outsider, but has lately apparently sortof become part of this little group of theirs.

My husband got a call this morning from the principal, saying that my son was (along with all their buddies) in his office and he put my son on the phone to explain to his dad what he was doing in his office. But he was crying so much that my husband could hardly understand what he was saying (my poor kid must have gotten the fright of his life). The principal came back on and told him that the 5 of them had been caught with pornography before school this morning. On one of the cellphones. My son doesn't take his cellphone to school, so husband's first question was on who's cellphone it was. Turns out - surprise surprise - it's the 'new kid's' phone - he was supplying, the rest of them, as boys will be, were checking it out. They were supposed to report it, but my son told the principal that the reason he didn't report it, is because he was scared of being picked on by this bigger kid - you know the whole peer pressure thing. So fine, the principal realised it wasn't really the other boys' fault and gave them all a verbal warning, but the kid that supplied the cellphone porn has been suspended for a week.

So here's my problem - we're going to speak to him tonight - in a calm fasion because he knows very well that what he did was wrong, and he's had the fright of his life (all those tears in the principal's office) so I'm not worried that he'll do it again. My worry is the damage is now done. He's now been exposed to this CRAP by a 13-year-old brat that I'd VERY MUCH like to throttle right now. They are going to high-school next year and I've already decided that he'd be going to the school (there's a choice of 2 good schools that we have to decide upon) where his current friends WON'T be going. But none of this undoes the damage done by what he's seen at his age.

My husband and I don't have a problem with porn in general and we'll rent the odd dvd here and there but NEVER when the kids are home and they've NEVER been exposed to any of this in our house - we feel that it's an adult thing that two consenting adults in a loving can enjoy together should they choose to do so. My issue is that I'm really upset that my son of 13 who hasn't even kissed a girl before now has these inaccurate pornographic images in his mind about what sex is all about, that are going to stick there for life.

Can someone PLEASE give me some advice about how to deal with this issue? What can I tell him that will not make me sound like a hippocrate but that will at least curb the damage done??
I know that strangling this other brat will not really help, but I'm just so mad that I wish I could do it.

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Our expert says:
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I fully understand how disturbing this whole episode has been to you. Do focus for yourself on the point that there is NO good evidence that simple exposure to porno is harmful to kids --- what can be harmful is the messages that may go along with it --- like the other boy's possible message that this was a sneaky and dirty thing ; and the most likely source of harm, fortunately not large, would be the terrible embarassment and upset at the scene in the principal's office. I think the principal handled this event badly, in a way that would maximise the upset to the essentially innocent kids, and he showed very little useful understanding of sex or of children.
It's the reactions of you and your husband that he will be dreading, and which could be harmful or helpful. Remain calm and loving towards him, supportive of his upset at the embarrassment of the situation. Use the opportunity to discuss with him your own calm attitudes about sex, a something which belongs within an ongoing loving relationship, and that you regret that this other boy has possibly gvien him a slanted view of this . Most of all, be open, now and from here on, to his questions about any aspect of this, something which his earlier questions showed was possible within the good relationship you have with him.
As Chelle says, the important thing is to HEAR him, not to preach to him. She also usefully raises the importance of discussing the broader and more important issue of how to deal with peer pressure, which might arise in other ways on other occasions.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: another mom's perspective | 2007/04/27

I umdestand that at 13 a boys hormones are surging and information is available at all levels to them. I just somehow wish it was still on the level of SCOPE magazine with a boob and a star!! I feel the level of pornography available these days is detrimental to normal development of teens and adult males (yes I have a husband with a porn fixation) and it does not allow men/teens to see women in an equal light. Divorce is rife since the onset of media and computer porn and I think it goes hand in hand with what is happening. Morals are reducing and women are actually worse off than before.I guess we as mothers won't stop porn but it makes it really difficult to raise well adjusted boys to become adult males who have a healthy respect of women. I wish men could be put into the reverse situation and have their wives viewing penises and porn and realise how belittling it feels as a partner?

Reply to another mom's perspective
Posted by: Mama | 2007/04/25

Hi

Perhaps u should have posted this on the Teen forum. I received some very informative feedback on my 14 yr old son

Reply to Mama
Posted by: Sg | 2007/04/25

Porn is and always will be part of our lives,so will cellphones.Therefore it is so easy for young children to be exposed to this.All we can do as parents is guide them and explain to them what is right and wrong.
I doubt whether any 13 year old boy will turn away from catching a quick "peep" at a picture of a nude woman etc.We just need to try and get them to understand that this is not normal behaviour etc.
Be gentle with him when you talk to him.Explain the wrongs but it is not going to make him into some monster now.It is part of the growing up process,although it is happening younger and younger all the time.

Reply to Sg
Posted by: Btdt | 2007/04/25

I understand your concern about the image that he has now been left with in his mind. I also understand the frustration about not being able to erase that, or to turn back the clock.

My advise - talk to him about it calmly and rationally. Explain to him that this does not represent real life, that it is fake, and just not realistic.

Also, have the talk, and leave the door open for him to discuss the topic with you, either there and then or in the future. But then leave it be. If you are going to go overboard with it, it will just cement the whole situation in his mind.

Reply to Btdt
Posted by: Chelle | 2007/04/25

My thought is not to preach to him - ask him about what he saw, what he thought about it, and from there you can gauge what kind of affect this has had on him.

I doubt whether this will seriously affect his life, unless everyone makes such a big deal out of it that he thinks his curiousity was a bad thing to start off with.

I'm convinced that in this day and age, he would have seen something similar before this anyhow.

Once you've listened to him and HEARD him, then you can explain about how porn is not the reality and how in instances it degrades women etc, but also ensure that the school issue is also about sticking to the rules - porn is legal for overaged people, and that he is young etc - and that he must stick to school rules or face the consequences.

I wouldn't make this so much about the porn in the first place, but rather about doing the right thing at school and the consequences of not. And how being influenced by other children can lead to problems etc.

There is more in this that he can learn. If too much emphasis is placed on the porn it can end up leaving him with more issues than actually seeing the images would have.

Reply to Chelle
Posted by: Me | 2007/04/25

whatever happened to sex education and guidance lessons? the teachers should be helping us with this, I find that when kids are of that age, it's difficult to speak to their parents about all these things that are happening to them and it's better at school where they'd be sitting as a group and speaking their minds! Yes it is our responsibility too to teach our kids about sex and all but teachers could lend a hand as well.

Reply to Me
Posted by: pp | 2007/04/25

welcome to 2007 all the kids have seen cellphone porn he is growing up scary, hey. at his age its natural .

Reply to pp
Posted by: Anon for this | 2007/04/25

Thanks for the advice. I'd just like to point out at this stage that it doesn't freak me out in the least that he could be masturbating, I'm sure his dad was as well at this age. I don't care that he's looking at girls either - he has posters of nice looking girls and cars in his room - I'm not a narrow-minded idiot mother!!! What I'm mad about is that the first image in his head is about sex, which is not something wrong or twisted, are the distorted images of pornography! Porn does not portray sex the way it actually occurs for normal loving people and THAT is what's bugging me.

Anyway, I'm calmer now and will handle it the way I think best. As mothers are supposed to do I suppose, in stead of running to a forum thinking there will be any magical answers here. Won't make that mistake again. ;-)

Thanks anyway. Cheerio

Reply to Anon for this
Posted by: cv | 2007/04/25

Firstly your son is at the age where all strange things happening to his body,his hormones is in a flat spin,his body is starting to develop and offcourse he will start looking to girls or to boys.So dont make such a issue of the whole thing.Just tell him that,porno is a absurd way of sex.He will look at it,if you and hubby like it or not,he has already start mastrubating,are you going to freak out if you found out or catch him.He is normal,he cried his hart out because they were caught.(and in his mind, he did not know what was mommy or daddy going to say) I think it was "stupid " of the principle to call you and let him tell his parents what happen.
Tell him that you and hubby does not like him to look at porn,because that is not the correct way of treating a woman or there is actualy no love in it,only people making money.
Let your husband talk to him ALONE,there is nothing so degrading for a boy of his age to have a mother go on like that.Your husband must be more of a friend to him,and he must also tell him that he can come and talk about any thing to him,and you must backoff a bit.

Reply to cv
Posted by: been there | 2007/04/25

I was also exposed to a blue movie when I was 13 / 14. It
was definitely an eye- opener . I've never seen people having sex before and that wasnt just sex - it was dirrrty baby yeah!

Anyway, its flith and bad for a person's mind. It should be banned.

Oh, and dont let your son watch e-tv late on saturday nights, he just might see a boobie or two. ----- oh the horror!!

Reply to been there
Posted by: Anon for this | 2007/04/25

Thanks Annie. That helps lot. I never really thought that I'd be so upset. Obviously the thought had crossed our minds before, about the possibility of him being exposed to it somewhere where we wouldn't know about it. I just always thought I'd be able to handle it like a rational human being, but at the moment, I feel completely irrational and out of control mad. Maybe I am overreacting, but I can't help it. I'm mad at myself for not following my instincts in the first place and cutting contact with this kid when I thought something wasn't right.

I can only pray for calm before tonight when I have to talk to him about this and wisdom to know what to say and then for him to turn out as well as your son did. Thanks for your reassuring words.

Reply to Anon for this
Posted by: Annie | 2007/04/25

My son was round about the same age as your son when he first asked me about porn. Some of his friends had shown him a movie.
I explained that I thought it was disrepectful to woman and that sex between loving couples was not like that.
I also told him that I could not stop him looking at it outside our home , but that it was never to be inside our home . He has to younger sisters. He never mentioned it again.
He is now a fantastic , thoughtful man of 27.With great respect for woman.
Just be honest with your boy.

Reply to Annie

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