By Marleny Huerta-Apanco
It’s Let Talk Month and we are addressing conversations that we, as parents, are scared to have.
As a parent of a teen, it can be hard to know how to navigate those scary talks. It’s important to remain patient and remind your teen that you’ve had to have these talks before.
For the month of October, we want to talk about a few of the most common topics people fear about: porn, kinks and BDSM, the condom breaking, and abusive relationships/consent.
Regardless of the topic, as a parent one of the most important ways to prepare for conversations relating to areas like sex, is to create a space where communication is valued, expected, and natural. This instills teens with confidence to talk with you about what they need, what they are struggling to understand, and establishes that you are an approachable source.
So, let’s talk about porn.
Porn is a complex (and often moral) topic. As a parent you may have reservations, religious connotations or misconceptions. For a teen, it’s easily accessible and is intriguing because they are curious about sex. The conversation about porn can take many routes and it’s ok if you don’t get to it all in one conversation, but today we want to highlight how those conversations can be approached.
- First, you want to always affirm that being curious about sex is totally normal. It’s part of establishing a safe space. Any conversation regarding sexual health should start by affirming that sex and sexuality are completely normal and natural.
- Second, you might tell them what you yourself think about mainstream porn. A conversation should bring up consent and context. This is also a good opportunity to start explaining things like misogyny, racial objectification, body shaming, and ableism.
- Like movies, remind your teen that porn is not realistic. It can elude the idea that women are simply for pleasure, that a certain size is preferred, or that consent isn’t required and violence is okay.
- Make clear that porn are adult films that are for an adult audience. It is important to explain and emphasize that sharing sexually explicit content of themselves or other minors is considered child pornography, but not to the point where it makes them more fearful, more curious, or ashamed and closed off to further conversations.
A potential phrase you might say is, “When I see mainstream porn images I feel saddened, because many of these images show women being punished. But the sex I have and hope you will one day have is an experience of pleasure, not punishment.”
It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers, and it’s ok if your child has lots of questions. Be honest with them and let them know you will get back to them. Here you can find more resources about how to talk to your teen about porn.
BSDM and Kinks
When talking about abuse or BDSM, the same tips mentioned in the porn section can be useful because you are highlighting the importance of consent within all sexual acts.
As a parent, things like kinks or BDSM can be challenging if you yourself are not familiar with them, but it is important to understand that everyone expresses sexuality in different ways as this is key in navigating those conversations with your teen.
If you see a sex toy or overhear your teen engaging in sexual behaviors that scare you, take a deep breath, take time to research about it, and find a time to talk with your teen that allows you to share your thoughts and concerns without being condescending.
- Ask if they are being safe when engaging in those behaviors (cleaning the toys, using safe words, and are consenting to every act).
- Remind them that it’s ok to say no and that you are there as a resource in case something like the condom break happen, or if they feel like they might be in an abusive relationship.
- Try to pay attention to how they act when you ask about their partner or if they feel safe/respected.
As parents it can be challenging navigating these relationships but it is important to remain respectful, compassionate, and open with your teen.