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The kids may have seen my husband's porn - what should we do? Add to ...

The question

My husband was partaking in, shall we say, “adult-movie content” when my seven-year-old and I were out grocery shopping. We came back home with my son’s best friend and, as the boys walked into the family room, my husband flicked the TV back on – failing to realize that he had left it on the last channel viewed. He immediately turned off the TV, attempting to divert their attention to a stack of unopened hockey cards on the coffee table. Do we attempt to gently probe to see whether the kids noticed anything? Do we fess up to the best friend's mom, a pretty good friend of ours? Or do we ignore it and hope that either a) we are off the hook or b) the friend doesn't say anything? Needless to say, we are horrified and have cancelled the channel.

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The answer

Ladies, that sound you hear – a sort of a whooshing, hissing noise, as of escaping air – is the sound of thousands of men all over the country going: “Phew.”

Followed by the thought balloon: “Man, I’m glad I’m not that dude.”

But you, and he, shouldn’t be too, too embarrassed, madam.

Let’s face it. Plenty of men (and women, I gather, too) check out porn. Probably more people have seen Rambone than Rambo. Reportedly, about 12 per cent of websites are porn. I’m surprised it’s not more. Sometimes the Internet seems to me like a vast, sophisticated network created expressly for the distribution of adult content and everything else – Facebook, Wikipedia, online shopping – is just an afterthought, riding on the non-existent coattails of all those dopey-looking dudes and buxom babes hooking up on-camera with very little preamble: “Oooh, thanks for delivering my package, Mr. Drugged-Out Delivery Guy.” Unzipppppp! “I see you have quite a nice ‘package’ yourself. Why don’t you come in?”

Even more amazing is how many people buy dirty magazines. Porno mags! In 2011! Still a multimillion-dollar industry.

Basically, as a friend of mine says (re: men): “Everyone’s got something, somewhere.”

And sooner or later will probably get caught. I recall once – it was a long time ago, folks, but the memory is as fresh as a hot bagel from the baker’s oven – my wife Pam went away on a business trip for a couple of days.

When she came home, she hit the eject button on the VCR and to my horror and mortification (it was like it happened in slo-mo) a movie I’d rented called Wenches (set in medieval times; surprisingly high production values) came sliding out.

“Oh, hey, did you watch this while I was gone?” she asked, turning the tape in her hands.

“Uh, yeah…”

“Do you think I’d like it?”

Me, squirming: “Uh, I’m not sure it’d be your cup of tea.”

(Let’s just say Wenches depicted a pre-feminist worldview, or we could say a “phallocentric weltanschlong,” and leave it at that.)

So your husband needn’t feel too, too ashamed. People (especially men) look at porn. People (especially men) get caught. That’s an indisputable fact.

But what was he doing in the family room?

Wait! Don’t answer that! Rather, let me use that as a springboard to dive into the porno pool, unzip my thoughts, and whip out my advice on the matter.

First, allow me to tip my metaphorical cap to you and say you seem surprisingly “cool” with the fact that your husband was watching TV at all, let alone “adult-movie content,” while it was a) daytime, b) you were shopping and c) looking after your seven-year-old.

I would catch holy hell from Pam not only on the what-were-you-watching but also the I-have-to-do-everything-around-here front. Not to mention the unwitting ensuing exposé.

But I don’t think you need feel “horrified” and cancel your naughty channel, if it’s something you and your husband otherwise enjoy. Feels like an overreaction. However, if you have a television set in the bedroom, why not restrict all future adult-entertainment enjoyment to there? And, as a further suggestion, only during carefully circumscribed hours.

In any case, get it out of the family room. That’s why it’s called “family room,” and not the “porno parlour.”

Also, I do think it’s your responsibility as parents to protect the kids in your care from being exposed to porn.

So, yes, talk to the mother, apologize and assure her it won’t happen again.

Natch, it will be an awkward conversation. And, sorry to say, I think it should be you that has it with her. Obviously it would be a fair punishment for your husband to squirm and blush and writhe around as he confesses all to your son’s friend’s mom. But I just think it would soften the blow if it comes from you.

Hopefully she’ll just laugh and/or shrug it off. If not, at least you were honest and can rest easy about her finding out in other ways. (Kids have a way of blurting stuff like that out at odd, and oddly inopportune, moments.)

I’m not suggesting that your husband should get off scot free. He got a little sloppy and exposed both your son and his friend to porn, and the two of you to possible social censure, or at least some snickering or eye-rolling at the next neighbourhood gathering. And you don’t want that happening on a regular basis, do you? Or, really, ever again?

Even in the most liberal and open-minded household, even if you have no moral problem with porn, I’d say he should definitely spend some time in the doghouse over this one.

David Eddie is the author of Damage Control, the book.

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