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Online porn can be a troubling issue when raising teens. (leeavison/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Online porn can be a troubling issue when raising teens. (leeavison/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Good parenting? Dad helps son find 'safe' porn sites Add to ...

How awkward. You’ve discovered your teen has been browsing porn sites online. Now what?

Do you: A) pretend it never happened? B) sit him (or her) down for a heart-to-heart chat about the porn industry’s unrealistic depictions of sex? or C) write a note on his computer, telling him you love him and that you won’t tell his mom, but with a warning he could ruin his computer by picking up porn-site scamware and viruses?

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One dad generated plenty of attention by picking option C after finding “tons of porn” on his 13-year-old son’s computer browser history and posting about it on Reddit.

His note to his son read: “Listen, I was 13 once too and it wasn’t so long ago that I don’t remember. I’m not mad or anything. It’s life and I did it too. I just want you to know that most of those sites are places that can and will ruin your computer.”

It goes on to list a few porn sites that are “completely safe” (of viruses and scamware), and a plea for his son not to feel awkward or embarrassed, but to spend less time on the computer. “You literally spend all of your time back here. I’d like to see you more often. I like doing stuff with you and miss it.”

As Slate Magazine’s Katie Roiphe points out, this kind of situation is tricky and one to which most parents of teens can relate. She notes that the “most sensible” advice to parents is to ensure these moments are part of an ongoing dialogue with their children about sex and body image. But while talking to your kids about all that stuff is great in theory, Roiphe questions whether it works in reality.

She recalls that her mother likely would have proffered some wisdom about body image and values if she had caught her checking out pornographic magazines in her youth. But she suggests she probably would have blocked out what her mother had to say.

“It seems to me that those first sexual stirrings, by their very definition, are something you absolutely don’t want to talk to your parents about. Isn’t anything they say tainted, discounted, gross – just by the very nature of their being parents?” she asks.

Roiphe adds that parents tend to be too quick to seize teaching moments. Sometimes, she says, it may be okay to just let children figure things out for themselves.

The commenters on Reddit offered their own tales of horror.

“We all get caught eventually. When I was young… I did my business to nighttime cinemax. My mom woke up and came in the living room. I ran into the bathroom trying to hide my shame. One of the worst days of my life,” one person wrote.

“When I started looking at too much porn when I was 15, my dad approached me about it and despite me being terribly embarrassed at the time I think he made the right parenting decision,” noted another.

Of course, when the roles are reversed and children stumble upon their parents' porn stash, it's a whole other world of awkwardness.

Do you think it’s important to talk to your teenagers about online pornography?

Follow on Twitter: @wencyleung

 

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