This month, we’ve been highlighting “what I wish my parents told me about sex”. After a presentation on sex and porn addiction, I ended up in a conversation with a 15-year-old boy about his struggles with pornography. When I asked him what he wished his parents would have told him about sex, this was his response:
I wish my parents had talked to me about more than just sex. When I was ten or eleven, my dad told me about how babies were born and he told me to be responsible—that I could get a girl pregnant. He told me that if I wasn’t careful, that I could really derail my life. What that told me was that as long as I didn’t get a girl pregnant, my life would stay on track, but it didn’t. When I was twelve, I saw pornography for the first time, and after that, I looked at pornography regularly online. When I was thirteen, I hooked up with a girl for the first time. We didn’t have sex, but we did a lot of stuff that I had seen online. After that, for the next two years, it was a pretty common thing for me to hook up with girls—to do just about everything except have sex. All I could really think about was getting really far with a girl and looking at pornography. I wasn’t having sex really, but I still felt like sex was taking up all of my thought-life. I didn’t really feel like I had anywhere to go, but I wish that I would have understood then what I am starting to understand now: even if you aren’t having full-out sex, what you do with your body and what you watch online can still impact your life. You don’t just have to get a girl pregnant to feel like your life isn’t on track. I messed with a lot of girls and messed up a lot of friendships because of my behavior. And I’m still struggling to stop looking at pornography and focus on school and sports.
Parents: This is a story I hear so often from the teens I work with. I hope this 15-year-old’s story will help you to see that you can’t just leave your kids to figure out what is and what isn’t appropriate, healthy behavior. You need to have an ongoing dialogue with your son or daughter about sex, sexual interactions and the content that they take in (like pornography)—and we have resources to help you here.