Porn addiction is not just a “boys’ problem” anymore. Chances are, your daughter has seen, and may be hooked on, pornography. 

Porn addiction is not just a “boys’ problem” anymore. Chances are, your daughter has seen, and may be hooked on, pornography. 

By Lacy Alajna Bentley

Even knowing your girls could have been impacted by pornography addiction is going to be news for many parents and caregivers. Having a plan will help you feel calmer as you talk to all your children about pornography exposure and addiction. Here are a few steps to take, and questions to ask.

Step 1: Don’t freak out! It may be hard to stay calm. You may get upset because you love your children, and you know they were just hit with an emotional and spiritual semi-truck. It makes sense that you are having strong reactions. If you don’t keep the reaction under wraps though, your child will think you are upset at her. Have your freak out session later with another adult, and well out of ear shot of your child.

Step 2: Own your emotions, and help her language hers. Reassure her you can handle whatever she is feeling. Help her express what she is feeling without worrying about you becoming upset. Porn is intentionally shocking, addicting, and compelling. As much as we hate it, this is business for the porn industry, and they are very good and pulling people in. Most importantly, tell her how much you love her, and that you are only upset because you wanted to protect her. Reassure her everything will be OK, and that you will help her get through this.

Step 3: Ask questions. Ask her how she found it. Did a friend show her? Has she shown it to anyone else? Were any other children around? Ask her what she saw and what she felt. It will probably take a few conversations as she processes what she saw and felt. Let her know that’s natural, and that it’s totally OK to talk to you again whenever she needs. Then ask her if she needs to talk again. She will worry about upsetting you, or want to protect you. That’s not her job, she gets to be the child and ask for your help.

Step 4: Remember what is normal. There is nothing wrong with a child who feels both pulled in and ashamed. We are sexual beings, and have been programed to be drawn to sexualized media. Help her find her voice and tell her story. Let her know it is natural to be curious about her body, sex, and sexuality. Her talking to you is a fantastic step in the direction of sexual health and healthy connections!

Step 5: Use proper terminology and age appropriate language. Pet names for sexual acts or body parts do not help when a child needs to be able to communicate clearly. Practice with another adult, or alone out loud. It is critical you can say what needs to be said without choking on the words. Practice, and allow appropriate use of terminology in your home. Besides, if kids know they can ask you about sex, they will be less likely to go looking for answers in other places.

Step 6: Create a plan together. This plan will include who you will each talk to and when. It includes what will be said, and future expectations you both may have. This is the perfect step to create greater safety for everyone. Children will be afraid of getting other kids in trouble, and may get back lash if parents are not cautious about how it is handled. Many children are exposed through friends. Reassure her you don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but you need to protect her. Be cautious with the confidences she shares, and handle them delicately.

Step 7: Be an example. Follow your own standards. It helps to have the same filters and safe guards for everyone. It takes some getting used to, but Mom and Dad, this is your job. If you turn your phone off at night and model good boundaries with electronics, your daughter will see that as normal. You give your kids a priceless gift when you manage your own media usage.

Step 8: Keep the conversation open and never stop teaching! Ask, at least every month or so, if she has seen anything else. Keep talking about new ways to create personal internal filters. Make sure she knows she can always come to you, and that you care about her. Allow her to talk about what she saw, and if it gets stuck in her head. Teach her about triggers of isolation, boredom, and hurt feelings. Remind her she can come to you whenever she feels these things, so you can give her what she truly needs–healthy connection.

And most importantly, BE THERE when she does come to you, because if you do this right, eventually she will.

Lacy is Founder and President of the up and coming 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. A recovering relationship and Hentai (sexualized anime) addict, and self-proclaimed perfectionist, she seeks to empower women to stand up and be counted in the war on the harmful messages all forms of sexualized media send to the rising generation.
Lacy@WURCTogether.org