Fatherly Stuff: The Porn Identity- Reactions to an Article and Reflection

Jan 15, 2013

The Porn Identity- Reactions to an Article and Reflection



 
How early (if at all) is “too early” to be exposed to pornography?

This question came to mind after reading an interesting article on the parental section of the Huffington Post about a father who, while checking his 13 year old son’s computer for viruses, was shocked to discover that the source of the viruses was from his son surfing the internet for pornography.

My first thought  while going through the story was, “Heh, been there before. I wonder how this guy is going to discipline his kid.”

The father’s reaction however, really surprised me. I was expecting an initial reaction of shock followed by punishment and maybe a stern, TV sitcom-esque heart to hear talk complete with that cheesy music that usually follows.

In actuality, the father decided to write a rather touching letter to his son (then subsequently posted it on Reddit ) that basically let him know that he completely condones that action of viewing pornography itself. What he didn’t approve of was the method in which he chose to do so (i.e. through dangerous sites).

 This is a complete parallel from my experience and subsequent run in with my parents, which occurred in the 6th grade.

It was a bit different, because back then, our family did not own a personal computer (mid 90’s, during what now feels like the Stone Age). A friend of mine brought in a Penthouse magazine from his dad’s secret collection. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal , but at that age it was like taking a bite of that forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Or reactions probably mirrored that of Vic Vega’s when he opened that briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
Boobs, glorious boobs!
 



The images were then divvied among the group of us and for the rest of that week; we are bartering and trading images like currency faster than brokers on the New York Stock Exchange.  I didn’t have them for more than a day or two until one night, using the profound and insightful judgment that only a 12 year old would possess; I decided it would in my best interest to hide the pages that I collected underneath my pillow. Well, the next morning I was awakened by the sound of my mother praying to sweet baby Jesus. She went straight for the kitchen where my father was eating breakfast and I knew it was in for it.
He was standing in front of me, pages in hand with a face that was stern with anger and disappointment.  My father was a trustee at our church and to this day, a devout follower of the Christian faith, so in his eyes what I did was especially heinous.
I won’t go into excruciating detail of our discussion, but to give you the gist, he made me look up the word “depraved” in the dictionary so I could fully understand just how evil those images were and explained that I should be more grossed out than anything.
Overall, I caught his drift: Porn=Bad, Jesus= Good. Don’t get me wrong, he accomplished his goal, which was to scare the hell out of me and deter me from a behavior that goes against the mission of most parents. While I knew what I did was kind of wrong, I really didn’t fully understand why. After all, I was just following what came naturally; so what could really be wrong with that?
 This is why I respect Reddit dad’s approach. Instead of condemning, he identified with him and let him know that while is interest is normal, there is a safe way to do it. He also explained that the images he saw on his computer were hyper sexualized versions of reality and there are other things (love, etc) that make real life intimacy so much more complicated.
There are obviously some people out there who think that what he did was wrong, but at the end of the day what’s more important is a healthy relationship between father and son. I like to think that theirs was solidified after this ordeal.
I can’t honestly say that when the time comes that I wouldn’t  be as progressive to the effect that I would actually recommend sites to my child; it’s not really my place to judge another parent’s methods, especially if he isn’t causing harm to himself or others. What I will say however, is that I hope to find some sort of middle ground between my own father’s “Wrath of God” and Reedit dad’s “Porn is fun!” approaches.
As much as we would like to, we can’t protect our children from all of the bad things in the world. We could do our best to keep pornography away from them (extra security on the computer), but it’s almost a guarantee they will either be exposed to it from an outside source or will seek it out on their own. 
As they get older and more curious about their sexuality, we need to be there to steer them in a healthy direction, and it will be up to you as a parent that will determine what that direction will be.
And to the parents who are in complete denial and think it will never be an issue for their child, just remember the famous quote from John Donne ,”… I am involved in mankind, and/therefore never send to know for whom the bells/ tolls; it tolls for thee."

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