Friday, July 17, 2015

Let's talk about porn, baby.

Last month, Bill and I celebrated our 20 year high school reunion. I have to say, it was way more fun than I was expecting - and I was expecting it to be great. Everyone was friendly and happy to be there and I loved getting to reconnect and catch up with old friends.

And since most everyone I talked to has a family now, I got to catch up with their babies too. I thought Facebook had sort of taken the mystery out of things - I already knew who married who and how many kids they had - but I soon discovered that knowing the facts and seeing some pictures is not even kind of the same as connecting face-to-face.

Which - of course, right? But you'd be surprised how many people thought we were crazy for flying across the country for our reunion. Next to, "I'm still friends with the people I like, why would I want to see a bunch of people I hardly know?", the biggest reason people had for NOT going to their reunion was, "I already know what everyone's doing thanks to Facebook!"

But here's the thing. If you never spend time with people who aren't already your friends, how do you expect to have your mind blown? Everyone at the reunion was in the same boat as far as being open to connect and have fun, but other than that? SO MANY DIFFERENT BOATS! It made me realize that, for the most part, I choose to hang out with people who are kind of like me. I bet most of us do.

So having a whole weekend to connect face-to-face with people I don't normally hang out with was really great. Not only for the "we're all more alike than we are different!" realization that comes when you sit down with someone outside your norm, but also for the stories. No one on Facebook ever says, "My eleven year old son is OBSESSED with porn." But face-to-face? Tip of the iceberg.

This was, by far, one of the most fascinating conversations of the weekend. Because while my boys might technically still be too young for me to worry about porn, I know that the Internet has pretty much removed age and curiosity from the equation. This is the age of access. Free, easy to find, hard to ignore access to anything and everything your perverted little heart desires.

Or doesn't desire. Which is what really has my attention. I'm not a huge fan of porn but I'm not against it either. If one of my sons wants to see something sexual, that's fine by me (okay, I mean, it's really weird to even think about that but you know what I mean...). The goal is not to get our boys to adulthood porn-free. The goal is to raise kind, responsible, thoughtful human beings. Which I think you can totally be while still enjoying some XXX stuff.

Porn is really not the issue for me at all.What worries me is the accidental discovery. The rabbit hole you fall into while looking for something else. The things you see that you can never unsee...

How do you protect your kids against that?

"Don't let your kids have a computer. Or an iPad. Or an i-anything!" was what my friend suggested. But as I nodded and sipped my wine, I knew my four year old was probably on an iPad at that very moment. And my nine year old? He's basically our I.T. department.

So removing technology is obviously not an option. What now?

I found this article which has been pretty helpful with some of the concrete things you can do to make the Internet safer for your kids.Which is a great start. But I think it's just part of the story.

Bill and I have spent a lot of time debating this, trying to figure out exactly what we want to do to educate our kids. Since our view points are fairly different, we've had a lot of interesting conversations.

Like I said, I'm not against porn. But I do think it can have an undesirable effect on people. Not necessarily because of the sex, but because of the expectations. If Pinterest can make your kitchen feel like a crappy before picture, don't you think porn can do the same in the bedroom? (Check out this movie if you want to think a whole lot more about it...)

Bill is pro-porn, pro-access, pro-everything. But he's also a dad who cares deeply about his kids' well being. Which is why he's also pro-person. "I don't want to demonize porn," he said. "But I do think there's more to the story than what's on the screen. We have to take a holistic approach with the boys. Find out why they're seeking things out in the first place. Just like we do with everything else."

Which is so true and obvious I can't believe I didn't think of it.

Of course it's a holistic solution. What isn't?

It won't be The Porn Talk. It will be dozens of talks over dozens of years. Some that seem related, some that probably don't.

Like the talk I had with Finn about watching scary shows at the neighbors' house. "I just want you to know that once you see something, once it's in your mind, you can't unsee it. It's in there. And it can come out whenever it wants. Like at night when you're trying to sleep or even in your dreams. You have to be really thoughtful about what you invite in..."

Or the time we saw a group of ladies walking downtown and they were all wearing matching shirts. "Hey Mama," Liam said. "There's a picture on their shirts that I've seen before. It's on that building by the freeway with all the neon lights and the legs on the sign." "Do you know what that place is?" I asked, knowing exactly what building he was talking about. He didn't. "Well, it's a strip club. That means women take off their clothes and dance naked there for money. Pretty crazy, huh? But I guess if you love to dance and like to be naked, that would be a pretty great job. I hope the people who work there like it. Because if they don't, that'd be a tough way to earn a living..."

So, you know, not exactly rocket science. But I have to hope that all the little things we do day in and day out are helping to lay the foundation. So that over time we'll help our boys grow into whole people who can think for themselves, see the big picture and make responsible choices. With or without porn. Or Pinterest. Or whatever else the Internet may throw our way...

4 comments:

Nancy Greenhalgh said...

Maggie,
You and Bill are amazing. I could not agree more with what you said. I was always the mom that felt that way and I am glad to know that there are still realistic people out there. We cannot protect kids from everything. Bravo for having the guts to state it in a world where we tend to overprotect kids. I am glad that I am not raising kids today. I would probably end up in jail.

Nancy Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

Reading this article made me feel so sad and heart broken that there are children who are watching pornography, something that has ruined so many marriages and hurt so many families. Being a wife and mom, I believe it is our responsibility to teach our children instead of the world teaching them. Please read this article:
http://www.idealistrevolution.org/this-former-porn-star-is-exposing-porns-secrets-and-it-should-make-you-very-very-uncomfortable/
I hope it changes your mind about how you feel about pornography and how it should be avoided. Lets keep the little ones minds' pure and not allow them to set expectations that could possibly hurt them in the future.
Best wishes.

No Mommy Brain said...

Mrs Greenhalgh (sorry, old habits die hard) - YOU are amazing! If I end up in jail, you'll be my phone call. 😉

No Mommy Brain said...

Anonymous - please don't think I WANT my children to watch porn. I don't. Like I said, I really don't like it. But I know that they will make their own decisions so it's my job to EDUCATE them. The information in the link you sent will definitely be a part of those conversations. Thank you.