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10 Reasons Parents Don’t Talk to Children about Sex and Porn

Last Updated: October 27, 2020

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[Knock] [Knock]. “Zack, we need to talk. May I come in?”

“Sure dad. What do you want to talk about?”

Just moments earlier, walking down the hall with face flushed, palms sweating, heart pounding, and thoughts racing, this father was thinking, “How did it come to this? It just seems like yesterday that we brought Zack home from the hospital. The years have really gone by like days. I promised my wife this morning that I would talk to him today after I get home from work. Why is this so hard to do? My father never talked to me about the birds and the bees, and I turned out okay. Why does it have to be so difficult to talk to my son about sex? What if he asks me about my sex life at his age? What if he doesn’t know about masturbation? What if he has already started? I should also talk to him about porn, so he doesn’t turn out like his uncle…I can do this…just knock on his bedroom door. It’s already open.”

This is a brave father who loves his son enough to live outside his comfort zone to speak to his son about sex and porn. Unfortunately, most parents never have “the talk” with their children; or if they do, it is way too late.

Below are 10 reasons I have observed why parents do not talk to their children about sex.

  1. Poor Parental Role Models. Most adults never had a discussion about sex with their parents as a child, so they have no template to use. Like most children, they watched their parents be unfaithful to each other, or sex was a word never to be spoken in the home. So children often wonder, “Where did I come from?” They know their parents had sex at least once.
  2. Passivity. The parent believes someone else will teach their child about sex and do it for them. Many parents believe the school system, teacher, church, youth pastor, or service group will teach their child about sex.
  3. Ignorance and Bad Information. Many parents choose not to educate themselves. There is good and bad information about sex, pornography and masturbation out there. It is very difficult to find quality, accurate information.
  4. Bad Advice. Just like ignorance and bad information, I tell my clients all the time there are good plumbers and bad plumbers, just like doctors, lawyers, and sex educators, which are no different.
  5. Apathy or Busyness. Many working parents with dual incomes feel they are just too busy. Many parents have time and make plenty of money, but they are apathetic toward their children second, as they are apathetic to themselves first. Parents are struggling with their own addictions with food, shopping, money, busyness, drugs, or alcohol.
  6. “It’s just too difficult.” Many parents believe this to be true. Not only is it too difficult to talk about sex, it’s too difficult to monitor all the social media, cell phone usage and all the electronic devices, so why try?
  7. The Parent Believes Lies. Similar to the reasons already listed, many parents believe the following lies. “No one talked to me about sex, and I turned just fine. They are going to have to learn about real life some time. It’s too late. What they don’t know will not hurt them.”
  8. Parental Fear. Some parents experience fear about not being able to answer the child’s questions about sex, porn and masturbation. Many struggle with the biggest fear of what if their child asks about their sex life.
  9. Parental Indulgence. I have counseled many couples in which one or both parents were actively engaged in sexual bondage, pornography, masturbation or sexual acts outside of their marriage. This debilitates their ability to effectively communicate about sex with their child.
  10. Finally, the biggest and by far the number one reason parents do not talk to their children about sex is because of their own shame. So many couples I work with have major issues of their own around shame. Most parents have never forgiven themselves for their own sexual indiscretions. Until they do, it is nearly impossible to expect a parent to have a general, let alone healthy, conversation about sex with their child.

So how late is too late to talk to your children about sex? In my opinion, you have to decide. This is not a right or wrong question but a wise or foolish one. What is wise for you might be foolish for the next family or child I work with. In my opinion, age 5 or 6 is not too early to have “the talk” about the birds and the bees with age appropriate information.


Cory SchortzmanCory M. Schortzman, MA, LPC, NCC, SRT, is the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center. Cory graduated from Doane College and is a Denver Seminary Post Graduate. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado and Founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. He is a recovering sex addict and intimacy anorexic. Cory is a husband, father, speaker, author and therapist. He has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has been heard on radio stations in Michigan, Nebraska, Denver Colorado Springs and several Internet radio programs.

 

  • Comments on: 10 Reasons Parents Don’t Talk to Children about Sex and Porn
    1. Greg on

      One more thought on this–I like what Julie Sibert (intimacyinmarriage.com) points out–that is, to not have “a talk”, but to open the door with your children for ongoing discussion.

      Biblical, sexual intimacy and the world’s assault on it are massive topics that simply cannot be addressed in a single talk.

      Reply

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