When I was fifteen years old, my friends decided to rent Pulp Fiction. I was trying to be a “good girl”, but I felt too insecure to let my friends know that I didn’t feel comfortable with watching the movie, which, despite it’s great artistic value, I knew to be very violent and graphic. So what did I do? I pretended to fall asleep about five minutes into the movie. There I was, in a room full of my friends, with my eyes tightly closed. I tried to drown out the language and the movie’s other sounds by creating a story in my mind and thinking about music I liked.
It wasn’t such a bad move for a little teenager, but, sadly, plenty of adults—parents especially—are taking a similar approach when confronted with the type of sexually violent, crass and graphic material their kids are in contact with. When I speak to parents about protecting their kids online or from pornography, many of them just shut down. Their eyes glaze over and they refuse to listen for fear that they may be forced to take some type of action. I’ve talked with many parents that have learned that their kids’ friends have introduced them to pornography or have shown them movies at their homes that are “R-rated” or worse. What do these parents do? Nothing. They feel, like I did as a teenager: insecure and uncomfortable about speaking up, confronting other parents and doing the hard work of taking a stand and protecting their own children.
As parents, we need to stop covering our head with a pillow when we’re confronted with things about our kids or their world. We can’t pretend to be asleep when we hear something troubling or that threatens our kids’ sexual and relational health. We need to start talking to other parents about the standards that are important for our kids. We need to encourage other families to use filters on their home computers and talk to them about the realities of porn access. I talked with one courageous mom who told me that her kids can’t go over to a friend’s home until she has met the parents, communicated their family’s standards and are sure that they use filters on the computers. That’s the type of leadership and action we need to take as parents.