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Published: Thursday, 6/3/2010

'Sex talk' must include porn discussion

Dear Straight Talk: Your columns make me concerned for my son and daughter, ages 9 and 7, respectively. Their father and I divorced over his pornography habit. I hope my son doesn't grow up to objectify girls and that my daughter won't give a guy oral sex just because he takes her to dinner. I'm not an abstinence-only fanatic, but I do want my kids to reserve sex for a meaningful, mature relationship. What is the best approach to ensure they will value themselves in today's sexualized world? - Phoenix.

Jessie, 17: Raise kids to respect their bodies and take pride in themselves so they are secure. Then even if "everybody else is doing it," they won't feel the need to hand out "party favors." It worked for me. It's worthwhile to shield children from internet porn, but they will stumble onto it. Unless you make them feel safe to discuss it, you won't know.

Nicole, 20: Teach your children through your actions. If you bring multiple men home, your daughter will probably do the same. However, your son likely won't give in to the porn habit after seeing the negative side.

Katelyn, 15: I'd keep my children away from porn. I was taught to save sex for marriage as the "ultimate present." Promiscuity usually means a person is insecure.

Vanessa, 22: Time goes fast so use wisely the time you spend together. Above all, teach them respect for themselves and others. Teach them confidence. Discourage a closed mind. As far as porn goes, it should be included in the sex talk.

Scot, 23: My parents set an example of seeing the inherent value in others. An open line of communication is also a big asset. Sorry to break it to you, but porn is here. It is mainstream. Not everyone who watches it becomes addicted or thinks differently of women in real life. I know many successful people in stable relationships who watch porn, including women.

Molly, 18: Kids are bombarded with sexual messages so establish safe open dialogue about sex early on. Many parents are so neurotically against sex their teens won't talk to them, so make sure you advocate for mature sex (as opposed to no sex). Be the parent they know will forgive them for a mistake. If they feel you are open to their side of the story they'll be more open to yours. In sex-ed classes, there is little on how damaging sex can be before you're ready, or if you're pressured into it, so tell them about this. Definitely keep porn out of the house. I keep my internet browser on medium censorship which censors any porn I might run into. They will be exposed though, so talk about what is sexually healthy - in contrast to how warped and unhealthy porn is.

From Lauren:

Dear Phoenix: It's fact that parents who are heavily involved in their children's lives from early on, who talk things through and reason with them, giving them the safety, expecting them, even, to negotiate and question in return, have more successful offspring than parents who let children grow up as they may. If you don't include moral guidance about sex, porn, and love in these conversations, the media will. The average kid sees hard-core internet porn at 11. Soft-core is ubiquitous in popular movies and songs. Porn is definitely mainstream - and hotly defended by many. But so were cigarettes in their day. Divorces over porn are rapidly rising. Today's porn is doing to sex lives what fast food did to bodies. It blasts them with empty calories while starving true intimacy. Be vigilant about blocking it from your home electronics and explain why.

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