Parent Buzz Newsletter - Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest
October 2009 - Issue 18
In This Issue
Quick Links

Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Often in our workshops, parents ask how they should respond when they discover that their adolescent has visited a pornography website or has asked if their parent will buy them a Playboy or Playgirl magazine. Gone are the days when kids waited for National Geographic to arrive in the mail to catch a glimpse of women's breasts or a man's penis. These days, sexual and often erotic media messages flood our daily lives - from late-night cable programming, x-rated sites and pop-up ads on the Internet to the Victoria Secret window display in the mall and Penthouse magazine cover at the newsstand. By middle school, many children have either heard the words related to pornography, listened to the whispers of friends, or been exposed to a variety of images. For impressionable children, pornography can complicate their often imperfect sexuality education.
wayne and adam cropped
As parents, it's important to help our kids figure out that most of these images are not true portrayals of normal, healthy bodies or sexual behaviors and relationships. So, how can we as parents handle our child's normal and age-appropriate curiosity in a safe way while sharing facts and our values around this topic?

For many preadolescent boys and girls, an interest in sexually explicit magazines and websites reflects both their curiosity and a desire to do something "grown up." If faced with finding your adolescent's magazine under the bed or finding them hunched over the computer screen in the dark, take a deep breath! Try not to make your child feel guilty or ashamed of their curiosity. This is a great opportunity to review your own as well as your co-parent's values about sexually explicit material.

You and your co-parent can take the time to ask yourselves such questions as:
  • What do we think about erotica or pornography, and what messages are we comfortable giving our adolescent children about these materials?
  • How do we feel about the portrayal of women, or the portrayal of men in these publications?
  • Are we comfortable having sexually explicit materials in our home? (and if you answer yes to this question, decide what is developmentally appropriate for your child to see and take the necessary precautions to keep your child safe.)
  • Would we prefer other adolescents to introduce our child to sexually explicit materials or do we first want to explain this topic with our own values?
  • Are we comfortable being the ones to provide erotic or pornographic magazines to our son/daughter and at what age is this appropriate?

Do the pictures reflect the values you want to pass on to your child about intimate relationships? Communicate these values to your child. You can share your attitudes, feelings and beliefs about these materials by saying something like, "I understand that you are curious about sex, bodies, love and relationships. That's normal at your age. However, I find that these magazines and websites show unrealistic sex and relationships. I feel that sex is an important part of a mature, intimate relationship. It is precious and should be valued, cared for and acted on in a way that is respectful to your self and the one you love. I think these images are often sexist and degrading to women as well as men. In real life, women and men do not have these types of perfect bodies. Not every person participates in these particular sexual acts, and I believe that safer sex, which is not usually present in these images, is a necessity. I'd be happy to share with you some books and information that I think will answer your questions."

If we aren't comfortable with our child's first views of adult nude bodies being of air-brushed, perfect bodies of models, we can encourage them to explore real portrayals of different shapes and sizes of male and female bodies through such books as The Joy of Sex, Our Bodies Ourselves, It's Perfectly Normal, or a human sexuality textbook, as well as photography or art works of natural, nude bodies.

As adults, we may have our own uncomfortable feelings about pornography. However, forbidding these materials doesn't mean your child won't see them. They may turn to friends, an older friend, or the Internet to get the information they are curious about. The important thing is to keep the communication lines open and to use this opportunity to share facts as well as express your values about sex and sexuality. Keep in mind that you are talking to your children because you care about their happiness and well-being!
For more information on how to talk with your child about this topic, visit these websites:

From Diapers to Dating, Debra Haffner
Third Base Ain't What it Used to Be, Logan Lekoff

Don't forget to visit our website for helpful tips, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.

Your support makes The Parent Buzz and our education programs possible! Click here to donate.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
Email Marketing by