30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy for Ages 3-7–An Amazing Tool for Parents

30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy for Ages 3-7–An Amazing Tool for Parents

By Amanda Scott and Dina Alexander

Written by parents and reviewed by professionals, 30 Days of Sex Talks  makes it simple for you and your child to talk about sex in the context in which it belongs; as part of a healthy relationship that also includes joy, laughter and the full range of emotion that defines human intimacy.

We’ve made it easy to engage your child in vital conversations about relationships, affection, anatomy, respecting others, romantic love, pornography and other online dangers.
 We have also included dialogues on important topics such as boundaries, ’my body belongs to me,’ ’how to say ‘no,’’ and predators. Using the numerous questions and conversation starters we have provided, you can launch these essential talks with your child and interject your personal thoughts, feelings and cultural beliefs.

Parents are encouraged to use their own experiences, cultural beliefs and personal values to guide each discussion and provide encouragement and guidelines for their children. You need not be an expert in addressing these topics, but you must be the first, best source of information on these vital issues. Research has repeatedly shown that children and adults believe the first source of information on nearly every subject they learn about. This is why it is imperative that parents be the first source when it comes to sex-related issues, rather than television, popular music or online pornography. Even from an early age (as soon as your child can use a cell phone or tablet), your child can easily come across messages from media or online sources that are incomplete, misleading or even dangerous.

These meaningful discussions are essential—and we’ve made them easy! This book also contains downloadable, bonus content. Included with this book is a code that will allow you to download topic cards which can be printed and placed in strategic locations, such as a mirror, refrigerator or in your pocket, to remind you and your child to start talking!

Remember that having these talks with your child will establish a pattern of healthy conversations for the future. (You know and love your child better than anyone, so you will know which topics to start with and which to save for later.) As you move through the discussions, you will feel your confidence grow, your interactions will gain depth and your child will be more receptive to your attention. This will result in a much strengthened relationship. Your goal is that your child will feel comfortable talking to you about anything as he or she grows into the healthy, knowledgeable person he or she will become.

30 Days of Sex Talks is available for three different age groups: 3-7, 8-11 and 12+

30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy for Ages 8-11—A Great Tool for Parents!

30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy for Ages 8-11—A Great Tool for Parents!

By Dina Alexander and Amanda Scott

Written by parents and reviewed by professionals, 30 Days of Sex Talks  is an amazing tool for parents!  By providing dozens of unique, conversation starters, this book makes it super simple for parents to talk to their children about intimacy and healthy sexuality, as well as address dangerous and misleading messages from media and various online sources.

Parents are encouraged to use their own experiences, cultural beliefs and personal values to guide each discussion and provide encouragement and guidelines for their children. You need not be an expert in addressing these topics, but you must be the first, best source of information on these vital issues. Research has repeatedly shown that children and adults believe the first source of information on nearly every subject they learn about. This is why it is imperative that parents be the first source when it comes to sex-related issues, rather than television, popular music or online pornography.

This book contains 30 main topics for discussion including: puberty, curiosity, self-worth, gender roles, body image, media literacy, instincts that keep you safe, pornography, sexual identification, and intimate relationships. These topics can be used to start important dialogue with your child while allowing you to interject your feelings, thoughts, and cultural beliefs. You and your child can talk about sex in the context in which it belongs; as part of a healthy relationship that also includes joy, laughter and the full range of emotion that defines human intimacy.

This book also contains handy, downloadable, bonus content! Included with this book is a code that will allow you to download topic cards which can be printed and placed in strategic locations, such as a mirror, refrigerator or in your pocket, to remind you and your child to start talking!
Between the ages of eight and 11, children become much more aware of their bodies. Knowledge about how the human body works and how the body changes can empower your child!

Remember that having these talks with your child will establish a pattern of healthy conversations for the future. As you move through the discussions, you will feel your confidence grow and these interactions will gain depth and your relationship will strengthen. Your goal is that your child will feel comfortable talking to you about anything as he or she grows into the healthy, knowledgeable person he or she will become.

30 Days of Sex Talks is available for three different age groups: 3-7, 8-11 and 12+

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction in Kids

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction in Kids

By Leina Hoyt, MFT

The following are some signs and symptoms of porn addiction in kids. It is important to be aware that while these are possible signs of porn use, these behaviors also can be seen with drug/alcohol abuse, bullying, feelings of disconnect from the family and other problems that teens face.

  • Isolation: spending time alone in room or bathroom
  • Change in mood: this is a possibility, but has to be evaluated on case by case basis
  • Disinterested in spending time with others
  • Excessively long periods of time in the shower
  • Taking phone into bathroom
  • Acting out behavior: sexting, sexual harassment, explicit emails, etc.
  • Secrecy, withdrawal
  • Increase is contempt/disdainful comments, objectifying others, etc.
  • Sexualized language
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge for their age
  • Sexually violent comments, jokes, victim blame
  • Drawing pornographic images
  • Peeping
  • Sexual behavior that is not developmentally appropriate

Some more extreme signs of porn addiction, or symptoms that the addiction is progressing: 

  • Using media to discuss pornography: texts, X Box messages, Instagram, email
  • Viewing multiple pornography sites. Any violent or extremely aberrant sites will create problems with healthy sexual development
  • Interest in group sexual violence
  • Engaging in risky behavior in spite of negative results: using school or church or neighbors computers to look up porn
  • Masturbating in public
  • Viewing porn in public place
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Accusations of sexual bullying/harassment

Therapist suggestions for addressing pornography addiction in a child:

  • Software Blocks (Read more about filters here)
  • All electronics out of bedrooms
  • Only public access to electronics
  • Parents to have all passwords to all electronic accounts to assure safety
  • Therapy (Read what to look for in a therapist here)

This is not a comprehensive list, it does not confirm that a teen is viewing porn nor does it offer a solution to every situation. These are things to pay attention to, regardless of the age of your child and whether or not the child is viewing pornography. The most important thing a parent can do is be present and aware of changes in a child’s/teen’s behavior. Parents should foster a healthy relationship with children (the sooner the better!) to build trust and teach by example ways to create the healthy emotional connection every human needs.

For more information on this subject, check out our book How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish.

Leina Hoyt, MFT is the Executive Director and Founder of the Hope for Healthy Families Counseling Center in Elk Grove, California. Leina is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has extensive experience with families, children, and adolescents. She has many years of experience treating anxiety, depression, trauma, and abuse. She has treated patients suffering from pornography addiction as young as 6 years old.

Like Us on Facebook!

Plan de lección edades 3-7

Plan de lección edades 3-7

Los padres, sus hijos están constantemente rodeados de mensajes sexuales e imágenes. Muchos de ellos están enseñando a su hijo lecciones acerca de la sexualidad y de las interacciones entre las personas que son engañosos, incompletos y poco saludable. La intimidad emocional real rara vez es representada. Es tan importante para usted hablar con sus hijos sobre los mensajes que ven todos los días para que pueda ser su primera y mejor fuente de información.

¡Haga clic aquí para descargar la lección!

 

Plan de lección edades 12+

Plan de lección edades 12+

Padres, sus hijos están constantemente rodeados de mensajes sexuales e imágenes. Muchos de ellos están enseñando a su hijo lecciones acerca de la sexualidad y de las interacciones entre las personas que son engañosos, incompletos y poco saludable. La intimidad emocional real rara vez es representada. Es tan importante para usted hablar con sus hijos sobre los mensajes que ven todos los días para que pueda ser su primera y mejor fuente de información.

¡Haga clic aquí para descargar la lección!

Plan de lección edades 8-11

Plan de lección edades 8-11

Padres, sus hijos están constantemente rodeados de mensajes sexuales e imágenes. Muchos de ellos están enseñando a su hijo lecciones acerca de la sexualidad y de las interacciones entre las personas que son engañosos, incompletos y poco saludable. La intimidad emocional real rara vez es representada. Es tan importante para usted hablar con sus hijos sobre los mensajes que ven todos los días para que pueda ser su primera y mejor fuente de información.

¡Haga clic aquí para descargar la lección!

Kids, Media & Intimacy: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Kids, Media & Intimacy: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

By Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth

Update Feb. 13, 2015 With what many of us have deemed as 50 Shades of Abuse and disempowerment blitzing the media on Valentine’s Day, glamorizing violence against women, the impact of media’s inescapable cues to kids about what constitutes intimacy and trust has reached a toxic tipping point in fouling up the works.

Marketing that film with a twisted lens of ‘romance’ has tormented public health purveyors and healthy sexuality educators more than any kink think imaginable as it does a huge disservice to adolescents and teens who can’t help but lap up the buzz blaring at high decibel levels in surround sound.

TALK with kids before media does.

Mediated culture has shifted intimacy into new forms and opportunities for connection, from Skype snuggles and bedtime stories afar to FaceTime touchpoints and mobile mapping, the blurred lines can shift from connection to control in a blip. Loving relationships with respect and shared pleasure instead of high voltage drama are one of the most rare media messages kids consume.

Original Post Feb. 14, 2012 Feisty about commercialization of Valentine’s Day and corporate “couple-talism?”

Wondering why “ily” texts feel as empty and vapid as a meaningless “lol” habit?

yoursphere fun heartsCheck out Occupy V-Day on Tumblr where people take back the red-pink-purple-washing and share their own celebration of love in all its forms using media as the delivery channel. I wonder how many teens will join in, versus lip-locking and gift displaying on Facebook in “can you top this” attention-baiting mode?

Lately it feels like there’s some very public grandstanding that wreaks of saccharine sterility in the form of ‘over the top “PDA.” (public display of affection in military terms)

When prom hoopla becomes like wedding fanfare and ASKING someone out is under scrutiny for social cred “oooh, how did s/he do it?” then voted up in social network “likes” of ‘awww you two are so cute together’ peer validation, it seems we’re edging toward exhibitionism over connection, acquisition over authentic, heartfelt commonalities shared.

Just when I think it’s curbed by a few choice youth comments lobbed to peers like reminder grenades,  whammo, incoming…another round even stickier and ickier starts oozing onto the social stage of syrupy ‘sweethearts’ and ‘babes’ (or raunchy, provocative, thug-speak) to the point where I need a post-research shower.

I realize self-branding personas is part of the whole social media zeitgeist of  growing up with digital intimacy (DYR report here) but when you start to see teens literally holding up signs with arrows to their new BF/GF relationship to have peers ‘weigh in’ it smacks of “lookee what I have” objectification consistent with the rest of our pop culture. Bleh. The tech tools become an almost robotic form of  “I’ve got mine” (as in, “BF? GF? Check. Got one of those) which makes me squirm a bit projecting into the future of what might be mistaken for ‘intimacy.’

Some child development pros and family therapists call it out specifically: “Is media creating a generation of narcissists,” pointing toward the fame game of reality TV as the culprit with “hottie factor/arm candy” winning out over deeper touchpoints. I see it as more nuanced…

Mind you, my rub is not with the private texts or behind the scenes nuzzles and nudges, pokes and pings that bring relationships closer using media (including affectionate bonds between parents and children!)…

I’m talking about the ‘in your face’ look at me focus of appearance over substance, shallow surface layers over deeper communication.

(Nice thought piece by media researcher danah boyd titled Publicity and the Culture of Celebritization about this dynamic.)

I’d like to think teens can see right through ‘the public wall’ with transparent incredulity but I’m not so sure. And I simply wish “I love you” weren’t such a throw away line today, for starters.

TextPlus reports 35% of 13-17 year olds say their first I love you via text…And the first time I heard girls chirpily hug with a verbal “ily” (rhymes with silly) at a high school event, I tell you, I had to keep MY own stunned eyerolling in check, as my face fell into a frozen state, “did she really just cutify AND diffuse the power of that phrase? gah!” I felt like I was in a Saturday Night Live sketch spoofing a really bad media sitcom)

When we layer in the dialing down of ‘dating’ demographics to “tweens” (8-12 or 9-14 depending on how you define tween) circumspection about media influence gets even more important, as this tweet from social media kingpin David Armano while helping his 12-year old son with a Valentine gift purchase:

(er, make it a long one, David, that’s heady stuff in the pop culture zeitgeist landing on tweens)

On the flipside of “what’s really going on out there,” I find some solace in the recent Wall Street Journal piece “Tween D-8ing—It’s All About Texts”  (with not one but TWO Shaping Youth advisory gal pals quoted (Rosalind Wiseman and Vanessa VanPetten)…it’s very helpful to diffuse some of the alarmism in redefining dating terminology altogether…

It puts context back into the single-digit “dating” ages to reframe texting as a tool for self-expression, navigating relationships in ‘training wheels’ form which is not much different than passing notes with hearts and flowers or Valentines to crushes of yesteryear.

(I’ll save the analysis of the Liz Claiborne study mentioned in the WSJ article for a separate post, but here’s one I wrote about their excellent program prior: “Love is Respect: Teen Texting Tools Aim to Dial Down Digital Abuse”

The WSJ pullquotes reflecting middle school verbiage about “breaking up” and “dating for 7 days” and “she fell in love with a different guy” is definitely media influenced kid-speak vs adult cultural context…

…But it also points to the “kids getting older younger” (KGOY) effect that can rob kids of childhood by layering in “shoulds” creating undue pressures and anxiety early on. (see Glee Teen Sex facts: CDC vs. Hollywood TV  or watch any depiction of young ‘tween’ sitcoms from Disney to Nickelodeon to see how early ‘dating’ gets factored in by social norm–I recall “The Suite Life” being my first head-turner for overt seeding of same) 

When I read the online youth poll of 787 members of kids’ social  media site  Yoursphere saying “60% think parents should let middle-schoolers date,” I gave founder Mary Kay Hoal a call to ask her to elaborate so adults don’t wig out on what that might mean…

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth: With kids as young as elementary school talking about dating (what they see in media, what they hear on playgrounds) how can we give parents context for redefining this much more casual texting/social media experience?

I’m sure some of your thoughts didn’t fit into the copy constraints of the WSJ piece, so fill in the blanks for us…

Mary Kay Hoal, Yoursphere: First of all, we need to differentiate what we mean by social media.

Sites like Facebook already skew towards ‘dating’ from the start by asking relationship status and what gender you’re interested in.

Yoursphere by contrast, is a “by kids for kids” social networking site for youth, NOT an adult Facebook style platform.

(Amy’s editorial note: I’ve heard Yoursphere called a ‘safe site/lock box’ experience with its moderation for tweens etc, on the COPPA compliant front as an under 13 user interface, with user-generated content)

The implication of how you ‘present’ on a site like Facebook is totally different than a youth site like Yoursphere which is all about kids’ interests and commonalities WITHOUT a dating context…

Yoursphere is youth-interest based vs youth-sexual based, so it’s about being yourself, building self-esteem through shared spheres; a natural way to form friendship bonds…

We’re very proactive about educating kids and instilling social media skills within layers of interests (“spheres”) that reflect who they are age appropriately. (a love of sports/hobbies/positive accomplishments, badges like kindness, digital citizenship) 

As for the research, 98% of our polls are directly about what kids think…and 62% of our members are between 9-14…So yes, 68% replied yes and 32% said no that middle-schoolers should date…but you have to consider the healthier context the poll is taken in…they’re confident who they’re talking to on the site. ‘Dating’ essentially means text-based interaction where one child texts another and asks if they “want to go out.” After a ‘yes’ they’re ‘going out.’

That’s a huge difference from an 11 or 12 year old accessing adult-social media communities like “Smash or Pass” on Facebook where others comment as to whether they’d “smash” (have sex) or “pass” (not have sex) with the person which feeds on an unhealthy culture to begin with.

Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth: I’m all for training wheels in social media but am still disturbed by the over-arching element of accelerating childhood and body-snatching kids into peer pressures they don’t need…like all the ‘dating’ talk of who’s doing what to whom (when we know 60% of boys lie about experiences anyway)—What does your youth audience say about this nervousness and angst?

Mary Kay Hoal, Yoursphere: We have a (PAID!) editorial staff with the youngest age 10 and the oldest age 16, so here’s an insightful article by a 14 year old girl, Laura who shares her views on ‘the appropriate age to date’…

(Laura: 14, edited for length) “There is a lot of controversy over at what age is appropriate for kids to start dating. We hear it from our dads (“How about when you graduate from college, hun?”) we hear it from our friends (“the moment you can!”)…”How often have you heard a senior in High School say they find it gross when middle-schoolers date? Or have your mom tell you you’re growing up to fast…

…”If you’re more interested in having a boyfriend before being interested in the boy you wanted to be your boyfriend, (or is your boyfriend) you may be submitting to societal pressure to date earlier and often…” (wise statement…see more from Laura cont. here…)

Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth: One of the biggest issues I have with our hyper-sexualized media culture impacting the health and well-being of young kids/tweens is this falsification of intimacy creating a disappointing, barren emotional landscape for kids. (see Buffed Boy Body Image & Tween Scene Hottie Factor  along with eating disorder surges, and appearance-based harm of early sexualization per the APA–more resources at end)

How can we best use parenting practices and media literacy to teach kids the difference between REAL intimacy and FAUX/staged intimacy when objectification is rampant and ambient? (e.g. toxic cues landing on kids in family events like the Super Bowl Teleflora “give/receive” and Go Daddy’s version of female worth that puts ‘hot’ as the cultural currency seeping into kids’ psyches with very real societal ramifications)

Mary Kay Hoal, Yoursphere: Parents are a big influence no matter what media depicts. They need to make it clear early and often what types of behaviors, photos, social media, texting and dating parameters are ‘okay’ based on ages and stages…Parents need to expand their own media literacy  WITH their kids and spend time getting to know the sites they’re on…

As a precursor to “dating,” parents can host kids in their home to get to know their child’s friends, encourage kids to go out in groups versus pair up…and definitely use social media that’s age appropriate rather than scaling up and ‘letting them in early’ to teen/adult content …you just can’t put a filter on what streams in.

For example: Facebook’s Sims Social is a game that allows your child to have an avatar and that avatar can undress and sex “real-time” with those on their “friends” list.

MyYearbook’s “Owned” is a money maker for the site. A member purchases their virtual currency – “lunch dollars,” and “buys and sells their friends.” Status in the community is gained based on how many “lunch dollars” you were “sold for” or who you “own.” The more sexually explicit the photo, the higher the price.

Teenspot is another example of a site where the focus is on sexual orientation (you search for people based on their sexual orientation and “rate” people) Tagged – involves profiles of 15 years olds making themselves available for different sexual activities…

Parents can’t be bystanders…they need to stay involved and communicate about what constitutes ‘dating’ and ASK kids what they mean when they don’t understand the tween or teen cultural context.

There are plenty of benefits to engaging kids with this ‘early dating’ idea to set expectations, curfews, parental involvement, activities…all of that.

Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth: Thanks, Mary Kay. Clearly, social media can be used to nourish or deplete, just like Valentine’s Day itself.

If we can use media to reframe Valentine’s Day to reiterate it is NOT an indication of validation of worth, lovability, datability etc. in this corporatized, commercialized “couple-atism” credo we’ll make some headway with kids to show substance over surface.

I’d sure love to hear certain phrases flushed from the youth lexicon of objectification like “s/he has an expiration date” as if we’re literally putting human beings into a meat market, or “s/he is so ‘yesterday’ as if relationships can be devalued and turned over into the discard pile like a game of gin rummy…

Or “I love you” status lines when you just saw the ‘relationship’ button was lit up with another name only last week. You know what I’m saying…Let’s work on the ‘faux factor’…

It would go a long way toward chiseling away at the ‘object’ barrier to genuine relationships, and start setting the tone for more humane ‘dating’ environs regardless of the medium…

Text. Status line. Virtual worlds. Social network. Or good ol’ popcorn and a movie.

Happy Valentine’s Day digital dear ones. L8r. xo

Curious to learn more? Check out our books, 30 Days of Sex Talks; How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish; and 30 Days to a Stronger Child.

Update: Valentine’s Day  As a ‘not youth PDA’ but interesting, related sidebar: Anyone see this marriage proposal via InfoGraphic? (btw, she said yes…but what if she hadn’t?…em..) Mashable article on soulmate probability fascinating indeed.

Amy Jussel is the Founder and Executive Director of Shaping Youth

Amy has a unique understanding of the industry lens gleaned from the inside out, having worked as a creative director, writer/producer and former ad agency pro prior to launching Shaping Youth’s nonprofit, nonpartisan consortium. The ability to mine data and leverage research skill sets advocating for children on multiple media platforms has spanned over two decades of print and broadcast journalism and admittedly come in handy as a passionista and youth advocate in the realm of children’s health and education.

Like Us on Facebook!

 

 

The Fifty Shades Effect: Disempowerment of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It

The Fifty Shades Effect: Disempowerment of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It

By Amanda Grossman-Scott

“What people do in private is their own business.” But what happens when Hollywood makes a movie glorifying, promoting and normalizing violence against women and coerced sex? It becomes the business of everyone to examine the message our kids are receiving from it.

In 2013, social scientist Amy Bonomi, Ph.d published a study which assessed the Fifty Shades series for qualities of intimate partner violence. It used the CDC’s standards for emotional abuse and sexual violence. The study concluded: “Fifty Shades—a blockbuster fiction series—depicts pervasive violence against women…” (Bonomi, A., et. al, 2013-emphasis added)

This study connected the dots for us as a society and as parents. And yet… most of the population refuses to see the danger in ignoring the normalization of mixing violence and sex. Of muddying the waters of consent and equality in a relationship. For decades we have endured this and it’s time we questioned… Why?

WHY DOES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN BECOME INVISIBLE ONCE SEX IS ADDED TO THE MIX?

Why do we refuse to see the results of our blindness? Why do we not recognize that “depictions of violence against women in popular culture —such as in film, novels, music, or pornography—create a broader social narrative that normalizes these risks and behaviors in women’s lives.” (Bonomi, A., et. al, 2013-emphasis added)

“Our study showed strong correlations between health risks in women’s lives—including violence victimization—and consumption of Fifty Shades, a fiction series that portrays violence against women.” (Bonomi, A., et. al, 2013-emphasis added)

“Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction [between the two main characters in Fifty Shades], including: stalking…; intimidation…; and isolation. … using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, …Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat…; altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.” (Bonomi, A., et. al, 2013-emphasis added)

I grant that there is a certain percentage of the population who engage in BDSM (bondage, domination or discipline, sadism or submission and masochism) type behavior. That’s their right (as long as it’s consensual). But my right, as a mother and as a sexually healthy human being is not to be made to feel like BDSM is what the average person does. How am I to teach my sons that it’s not okay to strike someone to get what they want? How will I teach them that tenderness and kindness are true representations of love when Fifty Shades teaches young boys that they can do whatever they want to a girl: so long as they buy her expensive gifts first? How will I teach my daughter that men should treat her with respect and equality when the best selling book of all time tells her that she should obey and acquiesce to keep her “lover” calm and happy? Not to mention the fact that she should be ready to be whipped (among other abuses) to prove her love and dedication to another person?

Because the BDSM in Fifty Shades goes so far beyond sex- and into the realm of domestic violence-it’s particularly damaging to a society that continues to push love and sex further and further apart.

The popularity of this movie is perpetuating the myths that control=love, that coerced consent=actual consent; that violence=love and that, apparently, every young person should understand this.

We as parents can take this opportunity to educate ourselves and our children. Talking to our kids about sex is the best way to begin establishing healthy sexual attitudes. Some things that will help negate the information our children might learn from outside sources are:

  • Discuss the characteristics of a healthy relationship like equality, dignity, mutual respect and boundaries.
  • Explain consent; that everyone has the right to say “no” and what it means for both parties.
  • Talk about the beauty of sex; that it can be a natural physical expression of emotional love.
  • Examine the messages your kids receive from the media. How these messages attempt to normalize behaviors that are abnormal and atypical in a healthy relationship.
  • Teach your child to think critically and examine their feelings about the media to which they are exposed.

We have a powerful influence on our children’s standards and ideals. We as parents can set the example in our relationships and in the media we bring into our homes. We can say “this isn’t love, this isn’t healthy” to our children. We can take a stand against domestic violence. We can say “we won’t be misled by your distorted version of sex and love” to Hollywood-all with one action: talking to our kids. For additional guidance, look to our recently released book series 30 Days of Sex Talks; Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy. The more you talk about these topics, the more you will arm your children with the knowledge and confidence they need to combat the negative and damaging messages they are exposed to every day. They will make better decisions in future relationships and feel more self-confident in their understanding of the world around them.

See our book 30 Days of Sex Talks  for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+ to find ways to start conversations about topics like this; including lessons and activities to empower your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy!

Sources:

Amy E. Bonomi, Lauren E. Altenburger, and Nicole L. Walton. Journal of Women’s Health. September 2013, 22(9): 733-744. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4344.

 

Replacing the Habit: Helping Your Child to Overcome Porn Addiction

Replacing the Habit: Helping Your Child to Overcome Porn Addiction

By Caron C. Andrews

Replacing dysfunctional habits with good ones is the key to a successful recovery from any addiction, including pornography. Your child may have formed poor habits as a response to stress or boredom, so it’s important to find better habits that satisfy those needs (Clear, J., 2013, July 14). If your child doesn’t find new, healthy things to replace the old temptations, the likelihood of relapse shoots through the roof. Your child must retrain him or herself to rely on new activities and coping methods rather than the old destructive, addictive ones.

A porn addiction has become your child’s source of escape, comfort, and focus, so it cannot simply be stopped, leaving huge gaps in all of those areas, without being replaced by something else. Regular porn usage changes the chemistry of the brain by requiring more and more of the feel-good chemicals, dopamine, to be released to feel the same level of excitement as when the user first viewed porn (Porn Changes the Brain, n.d., and Hilton, D., & Watts, C., 2011). When kicking a porn addition, the brain must rebalance itself to return to a normal release of pleasure chemicals. Creating new habits is crucial in this rewiring of the brain.

As soon as the craving hits, your child needs to redirect his or her focus to a new habit. Here are some great things he or she can do.

  • Physical activity. The pornography habit of watching, masturbating, and reaching orgasm is physical, so a replacement should be a short physical exercise routine (7 Healthy Habit Ideas To Replace Your Porn Craving. [n.d.]) Look into yoga, pilates, running, weightlifting, or martial arts.
  • Remove triggers. It’s easy to associate habits with the times and places where they were used, so removing those triggers is essential (Clear, J., 2013, July 14). If your child watched porn in his or her room, remove their computer and don’t allow any other internet-enabled devices into his or her room. Help your child create new, healthy internet habits that will enhance his or her life, such as researching a favorite subject or learning how to make something they are interested in. Beware of this becoming another all-consuming habit, though! Be sure to make all internet-enabled devices safe by placing filters on them to block pornographic content.
  • Socialize. A porn addiction removes your child from natural interactions with others and replaces it with intense, hyperstimulated responses to objectified people. Recovering addicts need to re-learn how to be with real people in real, normal circumstances. They need to rebuild (or build for the first time) their own healthy sexuality, whether they are sexually active with another person or not. Even if it feels like an enormous effort, socializing with peers will help your child regain a normal sense of people and relationships (Tools For Change: Recovery from Porn Addiction, 2010, November 28).
  • Reconnect with an old interest. It’s likely that your child has been consumed by his or her pornography habit to the exclusion of many, if not all, previously enjoyable activities. Encourage your child to re-establish his or her activity in the things they used to love, whether it’s a sport, reading, drama club; whatever used to spark their interest and passion. As your child re-establishes this connection, he or she will also tap back into liking themselves, a sense of accomplishment, and healthy self-worth.

Recovery is possible. Help your child succeed by encouraging good, strengthening new habits.

For more information on this subject, check out our book How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish.

Caron C. Andrews is a contributing writer for Educate and Empower Kids who has been with us from our beginnings. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing, from the University of New Mexico. In addition to her articles on healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, and combatting pornography addiction, she had copyedited medical books written for the lay reader, fantasy novels, and historical dramas. She is currently working on starting a blog and writing a novel. She is the mother of a teenage son and daughter and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sources:

Tools For Change: Recovery from Porn Addiction. (2010, November 28). Retrieved from http://yourbrainonporn.com/tools-for-change

Porn Changes the Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/get-the-facts#brain/porn-changes-the-brain

Clear, J. (2013, July 14). How to Break a Bad Habit (And Replace It With a Good One). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/breaking-habits_b_3540148.html

7 Healthy Habit Ideas To Replace Your Porn Craving. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://rebootblueprint.com/7-healthy-no-fap-replacement-habits/

Like Us on Facebook!

 

Fifty Discussions to Combat Fifty Shades

Fifty Discussions to Combat Fifty Shades

By Dina Alexander, MS

Recently, talk about a certain movie has become unavoidable in the mass media: Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s being marketed as a love story, but it’s so much more like a tragedy. It’s not enough to boycott or roll your eyes in silence at the trailers and “sneak peeks” into this pitiful “love” story. The premise of the movie is this: older man seduces younger inexperienced virgin and exposes her to violent and coercive sexual behaviors. If you want to see a change, you need to open your mouth and speak to the damage that this movie and other hypersexualized, pornified media are doing to you, your children and our culture.

There is no need to fear what your children may hear about this film or other sexually pathetic media, if you have prepared them. You know and love your children better than anyone. This is why you are the best source to talk about and exemplify true intimacy and healthy relationships (healthy, not perfect!). Teach your kids how to love. Show your kids what true intimacy is.

You’re the parent and you know your kids. YOU CAN DECIDE WHICH OF THESE DISCUSSIONS IS APPROPRIATE FOR SOMEONE OF THEIR AGE AND WHICH TOPICS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE FOR A LATER DATE. But you can bet on this: if you don’t talk to them about these subjects someone else will.

Important Discussions to Have with Your Children

  1. How can a critically ridiculed book, with a weak plot and ridiculously pathetic characters make so much money? (If it is salacious and/or controversial and/or marketed accurately, anything can make money.)
  2. Why does violence become invisible when it is mixed with sex? Why do people assume a woman “wants it” or is somehow to blame in these sexualized plots?
  3. Why do so many people turn the other way or embrace abusive, manipulative, coercive behavior when the perpetrator is wealthy and/or good looking? Why do many people allow money/good looks to whitewash poor behavior?
  4. How might a person’s life be impacted by Fifty Shades or other hypersexualized/pornified media even if they never see it? How might a young man be affected as he dates and builds relationships with women who have viewed this type of media and have expectations of abusive, domineering men? How might he feel, being compared to fictitious movie characters who are always good-looking or wealthy? How might a young woman be affected as she builds relationships with men who have viewed this movie or pornography and now expect her to be submissive, or who think that ‘no’ really means ‘yes’?
  5. Is it the job of television, movie and online executives to police what they create and distribute to the public? Should there be more stringent standards? Whose ultimate responsibility is it to govern what is shown on various media outlets (the federal government, local government, media executives, parents)?
  6. Why do some women sell out other women in books, media, and advertising? (The author, E.L. James is a woman.) Why would women try to normalize violence against women? Why do men and women create advertising in magazines, television, and other outlets that create ridiculous “standards” that are impossible or inadvisable?
  7. Why do we continue to allow more and more sexual content and violence into our media? Are we just more open-minded and accepting now? Or are the creators/distributors of this type of media merely concerned with increasing profits (and understand that sex and violence sell)?
  8. What is abuse? Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful. What are some examples of each of these? When we suspect a friend is suffering from abuse, what should we do?
  9. How does an abuser behave? An abuser may: keep track of what his partner is doing at all times, criticize her for little things, constantly accuse him of being unfaithful, prevent or discourage her from seeing friends or family, stop him from attending work or school, control all the money her partner spends, humiliate him in front of others, destroy property or things that she cares about, threaten to hurt him, force her to have sex against her will, blame his partner for his/her violent outbursts.
  10. What is a predator? What is grooming?
  11. Does this movie normalize abuse? Is the movie just a ‘fun fantasy’ that many viewers will use to escape their ordinary lives? What happens when people see emotionally abusive, controlling behavior and physical torture being played out by attractive, successful characters?
  12. If you don’t like Fifty Shades does this mean you are a prude? Does it mean you are close-minded or sexually unfulfilled? Does it mean you understand the meaning of true empowerment- and that it generally doesn’t happen with a ball gag shoved in your mouth (as is common in BDSM scenario)?
  13. If something is popular does that mean it is ‘okay’? What are some things in our history that have been popular that have later been found to be detrimental? (How about bleeding people for medical benefits or advertisements that told people that smoking was beneficial?)
  14. Why do you think the book/movie, Fifty Shades, is popular? Is it because of hard, targeted marketing online, in movie theaters, and on television? What other movies or television shows have been popular because of great marketing and big Hollywood names or directors but really turned out to not be very good?
  15. What is pornography? Is this movie pornographic? Pornography is anything that is created with the intent to arouse or titillate its consumers and which commodifies the body—usually the female body. (To commodify is to turn something into a product to be sold to consumers.)
  16. What is objectification? Objectification is seeing a person as an object, usually devoid of feelings, thoughts and intellect. What are some examples where we see women being objectified? Where do we see men being objectified? Are there advertisements or other media that objectify children?
  17. Do you know how to deconstruct an image, particularly in advertising and other media? When you look at an advertisement, can you tell who the audience is, what is being sold and what emotions the creator is trying to draw from you? How can music, lighting, camera angles, and photoshopping affect these images?
  18. What is empowerment? Can a relationship be empowering? Can it be devaluing? Or are these feelings that are 100% internal?
  19. What is BDSM? (Remember, your child/teen can learn from you what it means, or learn from another, possibly unreliable source.)
  20. What is bondage and discipline?
  21. What is domination and submission?
  22. What is sadism and masochism? I won’t explain these terms here. Anyone can go to Wikipedia and read about it. Take notice there is no mention of the words love, respect or intimacy.  You can talk about the wonders of sexual intimacy and model respectful, kind, affectionate behavior that will give your child the building blocks to understand what a healthy relationship looks like. The way you treat your partner and your child teaches him how he should expect to be treated (and how he ought to treat others).                                                                                                                                           Relationship discussions:
  23. What is respect? How does one show respect for themselves? How does one show respect for others?
  24. What is trust and why is it important to any relationship (friendship, romantic relationship)?
  25. If someone gives you gifts, does this mean he/she loves you? Do you owe him or her something in return?
  26. What does a healthy relationship look like (romantic or platonic)? What kind of behavior should you expect in any relationship?
  27. How do you create a healthy relationship? What would you like to see in your future relationships?
  28. What are boundaries? Why do all of us need boundaries? Boundaries are personal limits or guidelines a person forms in order to clearly identify reasonable and safe behaviors for others to engage in with or around him or her.
  29. What are instincts? What is that “icky” feeling we sometimes have? How can we use instincts help us know when someone isn’t treating us well or if we need to get away from someone?
  30. How do we say ‘no’ to someone who isn’t treating us well? Can you say ‘no’ to an adult? What are some situations in which we can say ‘no’? Let’s practice saying “NO!”
  31. What is love? How do you know if you are loved? What is the difference between being infatuated and real love?
  32. Why is curiosity awesome? It is totally normal and expected to be curious about one’s body and about sex. This is natural and helpful to one’s survival.
  33. Why are our bodies amazing? What should we protect them from?
  34. What is sex? What are its purposes?
  35. Why is sex amazing? It feels awesome, it’s fun and best of all; it builds emotional closeness in an already strong relationship.
  36. What are the physical aspects of sex? What is arousal? What is an orgasm?
  37. What are the emotional aspects of sex? It can foster emotional closeness and unity.
  38. What is intimacy? Why does intimacy make a sexual relationship better? Intimacy can be the best part of a relationship. It is dependent upon trust and can be expressed verbally and non-verbally. It is feeling closer to someone than normally experienced in common, casual relationships. It can exist between two friends, but is usually used to reference a wonderful, romantic, committed relationship.
  39. What is virginity? Does it make a person vulnerable? (In Fifty Shades, the protagonist is characterized as a virgin, and that this somehow makes her more vulnerable or easier prey.)
  40. Is sex different in a committed relationship versus hook-up sex?
  41. What is bodily integrity? How does it relate to sex? Bodily integrity is the personal belief that our bodies, while crucial to our understanding of who we are, do not in themselves solely define our worth; the knowledge that our bodies are the storehouse of our humanity; and the sense that we esteem our bodies and we treat them accordingly.
  42. Does one’s body image affect how he/she forms relationships? Does one’s body image affect his/her sex life? If you think you are unattractive or ugly, how might you behave?
  43. How does one’s self-confidence affect their decisions in dating and forming relationships? If you don’t see your inherit worth or think yourself unlikeable, might you be more vulnerable to the flattery of insincere or abusive people?
  44. How might sex affect self-esteem? (Can it raise or lower your self-esteem?) How might a person who feels good about himself approach sex differently from a person who does not?
  45. What is sexual consent? How do you know someone really means ‘yes’? What is rape culture? (see below-Kacmarek, J., 2013) Is sex different when one or both parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Can a person give consent or receive consent when he has drugs or alcohol in his body?
  46. What are some rules you have in your home, relating to dating and sex? And why do those rules exist? When should dating begin? How does a person know he or she is ready to have sex?
  47. What is shame? What is guilt? Why do people have these feelings when sexual topics come up? Why do some people thinks sex is ‘dirty’ or ‘bad’?
  48. What would you think of a contract someone might want you to sign in order to have a relationship with him/her? (Examples: BDSM contracts, “love contracts”, pre-nuptial agreements.)
  49. Some people think that they can change a person and that if he or she just stays with them long enough, their major problems will go away. Do you agree with this? Is love enough to change someone? (This is one major premise in Fifty Shades.)
  50. Some people think that women want to be dominated and told what to do. Do you agree with this? Why or Why not?

Although this movie exemplifies so many negative ideas of sexuality in our culture, you don’t need to hide these subjects from your children. Talk to them openly and honestly. Set an example and discuss with them the amazing benefits of being truly close and intimate with another person. Not sure how to begin these conversations? Check out 30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy. Available for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+.

Sources:

Kacmarek, J. (2013, June 13). Rape Culture Is: Know It When You See It. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julia-kacmarek/rape-culture-is_b_3368577.html

Rape Culture Definition: a culture in which dominant cultural ideologies, media images, social practices, and societal institutions support and condone sexual abuse by normalizing, trivializing and eroticizing male violence against women and blaming victims for their own abuse.