When you Catch Your Daughter…
By Jessica Harris
Have you ever caught your daughter watching porn? I don’t mean reading a romance novel or watching a chick flick. I mean watching hardcore pornography.
Parents are typically aware of the potential of sons to find and watch porn. When it comes to girls, though, parents can think, “Oh, my daughter wouldn’t do that.” Parents can believe that their daughters are immune to the presence and pull of pornography; statistically speaking, that’s not accurate.
A study of college students in 2008 indicated that 62% of girls had been exposed to pornography before the age of 18, and 9% were exposed before the age of 13.
This means that, as a parent, if you have two daughters, at least one of them is likely to have seen pornography. How that affects her will largely depend on how you, as a parent have prepared her for that exposure, and for how you react to it.
How to react when you catch her watching porn:
1. Don’t freak out. As shocked, disappointed, or horrible as you as a parent may feel, do not panic. Panic is like slamming the door in her face. You are communicating to her that you are not ready to handle this and are not comfortable communicating about this. If you want your daughter to feel she can talk with you about this, you have to keep your cool.
2. Don’t make it about you. A typical response I have seen from parents is that they turn the tables and make it about their parenting. Just because your daughter has seen pornography doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent. Don’t ask her what you have done wrong. Don’t ask her how she could do this to you. Don’t silence her with that guilt and shame.
3. Do encourage her to talk to you (and do listen). If she has voluntarily told you she watches porn, thank her for being honest. If you have caught her, then encourage her to tell “her side” of the story. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child, as a parent, is an open door. No topic should be off-limits with your children, even your daughters. Ask her about her experience with pornography. How did she find it? When was the first time she found it? How did it make her feel? If she keeps going back to it, can she tell you what makes her want to do that? Figure out as much you can. You might find underlying issues. Her boyfriend could be pressuring her; her friends could be talking about it and making her feel silly; someone could be using it to groom her. Knowing what she knows can help you protect her.
4. Do stay involved. Now is not the time for hands-off parenting. It can be tempting to think one talk will be enough to settle the matter. You have the sex talk or the porn talk once and think that is fine, but it isn’t. Install filters, move computers, do what is necessary to help her quit using pornography. Keep having conversations with her about what her friends are talking about and what she is seeing online.
5. Do remind her how much you love her. For so many girls, their journey into pornography and/or exploitation boils down to this desire to be loved. They will search to the ends of the net to find it, in some cases, placing themselves in danger. I believe that pornography is grooming the next generation of exploitation victims and they will be girls who willingly exploit themselves in the name of love.
It is my firm belief that parents are our strongest weapon when it comes to fighting the influx and effects of pornography. When you work to establish an open and honest relationship with your daughter, you give her the foundation she needs to be able to recognize counterfeit acceptance and to say no.
If this story sounds all too familiar it’s time to start the conversations with your children today. These conversations should be open and safe for your child to ask and speak. For more information about how to talk to your children about sex check out our book 30 Days of Sex Talks. Other books that will help you with this critical subject are How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and 30 Days to a Stronger Child.