Talking to my Oldest Son about Rape and Porn

People who have followed this blog for a while know I torment my poor husband with open discussions about pretty much anything at the dinner table. The older boys and I have discussed wet-dreams, periods, same-sex marriage etc etc.

 

I do this because I know if I don’t brainwash them give them good information, they’re going to go and find it elsewhere. Someย kids never ask their parents about sex and I wasn’t going to leave such an important subject to chance. (Especially since the more information they have, the more informed their choices are.)

The other day our 10 year old asked me what rape and porn were. I was pleased it was away from the dinner table as I don’t think the seven year-old needs to hear all this yet. It wasn’t he was being sexual either, he’d just heard the words and wondered what they meant.

I had to think fast. Don’t you always as a parent? Anyhow I came up with the following, and I think it covered it for him:

Rape is about power and force and all about the rapist stealing his pleasure.

Porn is about using someone else’s body for your pleasureย or looking at someone else using someone else’s body for your pleasure.

I made the differentiation between these and Making Love, where you want the other person to feel experience pleasure too.

OK, parents, what else should I have included?

Have you discussed these with your kids? What ages were they?

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About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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22 Responses to Talking to my Oldest Son about Rape and Porn

  1. Sounds like you handled it well, Karyn! I think that answering the question – not shirking from it, but taking it seriously and talking about it – is probably the most important thing. Kudos to you for being there for your son!

    • Thanks. I think the fact that he asked me was a good indicator that he was ready to hear the answers. It did freak me out for about two seconds! Then I realised it was probably a good sign…

  2. Wow, that’s great on the spot like that. I would include that rape is illegal and certain porn is illegal. Also porn exploits people and children. The people who purchase it are supporting the exploitation, even if it is not illegal. Telling my 8 yo son that something is illegal is enough for him not to want to have anything to do with it. We’ve had several open conversations in the last several months too, prompted by the crime in our area and continued by changing bodies. I liked the book “It’s Not the Stork” and “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris. I read the first one to both my kids and they looked at some of the cartoons in the 2nd one (they are too young for the text). I want them to know what is normal about our bodies, privacy, changing in dressing rooms, and relationships. I’m with you!

    • Yes, our boys would freak out if I told them rape was illegal and also about some porn being so, too. I was really conscious of not overloading with too much information all at once. If it comes up again, I’ll mention exploitation – he really seemed to understand the ‘using of another for ones own pleasure’ bit as exploitation without using that word in particular. I also approached porn as using another’s body, so he realised that sex for him without consideration of the other person involved was not OK. It was a big question and a bit out of left-field, so yes, I was pleased I didn’t fall apart!

  3. suevanhattum says:

    “stealing his pleasure”, hmm. I wouldn’t have put it that way myself. (Though it may be a good way to frame it.) It’s about wanting to force someone to do what you want. The rapist is acting like the other person isn’t even a person.

    I think I’ve told my son (10) about rape, but not about porn. When the porn conversation comes up, I would mention that there is erotic stuff written in respectful ways. I think written stuff is more directed toward women, though. I wonder if there’s any visual porn that’s done respectfully. Probably. There’s a store here called Good Vibrations, run by women, that would have respectful stuff.

    • You’re right about the dehumanising part of rape, I’ll keep this in mind if the subject comes up again. I think I agree with your comments about porn, I am really cautious about over-talking when our kids ask anything though – they switch off so easily unless they’re really engaged with the topic and this was all a ‘just in passing’ sort of conversation. Great to have your input, though. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Laura Weldon says:

    I’m all about telling kids what they can handle, which I’ve always gauged by their questions. That’s why our four-year-old knew about the mechanics of sex about six years before I anticipated telling him—he kept asking more questions. He also managed to be circumspect about that info around other kids (I explained other parents kept it a to tell later) quite a difference I think when many kids have to extract what details they can from reluctant sources and then blurt out what little they know to everyone.

    • It’s that avoiding half-stories I’m trying to avoid too Laura. The older two saw me pregnant and feeding, so it was all very natural and normal for them, I have also never hidden away when I’ve got my period etc. Our boys are pretty on to it with regards to discretion too – that sense of place is so important.

  5. I’ve been thinking about what makes kids blurt out what they know and I think they do when they hear from other kids in a naughty giggle sort of way. We’ve never laughed at bawdy jokes in front of the kids, we don’t tell these kinds of jokes, and we don’t use innuendos in our speech. We are matter of fact. I also agree with only telling what the child is asking and letting them ask more questions. I’m sure what you said was just right for the situation with your child. H was asking more questions and it was clear to me it was time to answer them or risk making it too big of a deal. They might also tell other kids when it seems like really big news. I told both my boys that each parent talks to their kids about this and not to mention it. They haven’t mentioned it again around me, and I don’t think they have around other kids. They are very open with us, which is what I hoped. It wasn’t a laughing matter, and more of science lesson. We live on a farm too, so we can’t avoid the topic for as long as some parents, maybe. Children in school hear much more, I’m sure.

    • Yes, it’s hard to avoid sex conversations when you live rurally! I agree, discretion is important too. I think answering them straight and treating these questions like all others is what makes it normal and no big deal – just part of life.

  6. otownmommy says:

    I agree that it is important not to overdo it on the subject on the first chat. I have a tendency to do that with the kids sometimes (on other subjects) and i see my daughter glaze over. I think you handled the questions well, especially if they were brought up out of left field like that! I agree that you need to touch it up a little, illegality, force … i agree. When it comes to pornography, yes there is the exploitation and there is tasteful (possibly boudoir photo’s taken for a husband?) When its all said, something that is tasteful i don’t put the label of pornography on it, but that is just me? I remember when i was a kid and hearing that people liked to be spanked?! i was so confused, and i was too embarrassed to ask questions.

    • Oh grief, I don’t want any spanking questions! LOL. Yes, less is definitely more in terms of informing our kids. They always seem to come back with more quesitons if I haven’t said enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. you made me think, Karen. I know that this kind of questions are not so soon to come in my case but I should start preparing myself for it as the time fly by with kids and not knowing when I’ll be in your shoes, speechless, or with some kind of silly answer and I don’t want that to happen.

    • Time sure does fly with kids. Someone once said to me: parenting is long days and short years…! These questions did surprise me, and I am pleased I was in the right frame of mind to stop what I was doing and address them. Thanks for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m sorry to misspelling your name…, btw.
        Anyway I just want to say that my parents never talked with me about this kind of topics and I feel like I really don’t want to do the same mistake with my kids.
        I know that my husband is VERY willing to talk about issues like pornography, homosexuality, I mean… about everything… he is that kind of person. There is no topic he is not willing to talk with anybody at anytime. I am totally opposite but with my kids I don’t want to be that way. I want to be there for them and with them as they learn.
        One more time, thanks for making me think ๐Ÿ™‚

        • No worries with the name spelling, when you’re called Karyn Van Der Zwet – it happens! LOL Good on your for being aware of what you don’t want to do: that’s a great starting point. Great that your husband is so open too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Jules! says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m handling topics like this lately as well. I strive to be open and keep the conversations as comfortable as possible. I always reassure my son, who is 12, that we are always here for him for any reason. No matter what the question, I want him to feel safe and secure at home. I usually get a thank-you & hug following a talk involving sensitive topics. I treasure that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s so great Jules. I love that you’re getting thanks and hugs afterwards, it means the information you’re giving is appropriate and your son trusts you. Thanks for commenting, I love hearing from readers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. thirdeyemom says:

    Difficult topics to discuss indeed yet so necessary. I know many who have been assaulted so I am sure I would have to talk about how much it destroys a woman’s life and makes her never the same. How also it is illegal and if caught there are stiff consequences.

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