3 Tips to Talk with the Parents of Your Child’s Porn-Viewing Friend

My Kid Saw Porn on Another Kid’s Device at School

I calmly sat across from my friend and explained to her the “Bring Your Own Technology” fiasco that had happened recently at school. As my daughter and her friend worked together on a collaborative project using the internet as a research tool, she clicked on the wrong tab on her friend’s computer. The tab revealed a paused movie depicting lesbian porn.

My daughter was in the sixth grade.

“How are you going to tell her parents?” my friend asks me.

Tell her parents? I thought. I hadn’t planned on telling her parents. I had focused on processing with my daughter, but hadn’t thought about the intervention needed on her friend’s behalf.

Plus, awkward.

As someone who often speaks and writes about porn, advocating for freedom from addiction and protection for our children, it was befuddling as to why I found myself incredibly hesitant to say anything to them. But I had let this whole scenario affect me on such a personal level that I lost my professional perspective:

  • Would they think I’m interfering?
  • Would they see me as judgmental?
  • Would they be embarrassed and avoid me?
  • Would my daughter suffer repercussions?

My very sweet friend looked at me from across the table and said basically this: You have to tell them. This isn’t about you. This is about an 11-year-old girl who is watching porn.

An 11-year-old girl.

3 Tips to Talk with the Parents of Your Child's Porn-Viewing Friend

Seeing myself now as an advocate and not a tattletale, I prayed, asking God for the very best way to handle a very delicate situation. The truth is, whenever we approach another parent about their children, we must come from a place of humility. Many people will quickly assume they are being attacked, are fearful of being wrong, and treat their children as extensions of themselves. It’s risky business, but when it comes to porn and its highly addictive nature, it’s a risk well worth taking. Here are three tips to guide you into a productive and helpful conversation.

Tip 1: Deal with Your Own Emotions First, Then Act

I understand you may be angry that another child exposed your kid to porn. My husband and I worked so hard to protect our daughter’s device, and yet, we were (and still are) powerless over controlling anyone else’s. Access to porn is ever-evolving and even when we think we have all the bases covered, there are usually still opportunities where our kids can be exposed. The point is this: we cannot assume that parents are falling down on the job. Might they be? Yes. But might they also be working just as hard as we are and it just happened? It is almost assuredly true that the parents of the child who had the porn had zero intention of harming your child, just as you have zero intention of harming theirs. Instead of letting our anger take hold, we can believe the best, step back, and reframe.

Related: My Child Has Been Exposed to Porn–5 Critical Truths You Need to Know

We must have the perspective that raising kids takes a village. As such, we need to work together to keep all of our kids safe. I get that in our climate of American society right now doesn’t seem conducive to working together or agreeing on anything, but we have to continue to strive to function as a community—to serve, to help, to watch out for each other. Sometimes (maybe a lot of the time), it has to start with us making the move to reach out. As Christians, we love because God first loved us. Reaching out in love to communicate potential dangers can go a long way to helping people recognize the value of community and communication.

Tip 2: Pray

Regardless if this is your best friend or a complete stranger, prayer is crucial when it comes to these conversations. God knows how this person will best respond to the information. Some people may want an in-person encounter, needing to see there is no judgment in your eyes as you convey the message. Other people will need time to process the new information and would appreciate delivery in a well-worded email. Others may do well with a phone call so they can hear your voice, but not have the pressure of having their reaction in full view. Ask God to help you decide which method of communication is best suited to this particular person.

Before you start the conversation, pray. Ask God to help you with the dialogue—that your words would be His words, that He would prepare the heart of the person on the other side of us, and that the discussion would bear fruit.

Tip 3: Be Helpful, But Not Pushy

It can be tempting to deliver the information with an array of helpful advice at the onset of the conversation. Often, though, it is helpful to wait to see if they ask for advice. Let them know you’d be happy to have conversations about what has worked for you to keep your kids safe, but give them space to say “yes” to your input. We don’t want to come across as preachy know-it-alls or assume the worst about their kids’ viewing habits. The posture of humility is so crucial to keeping the flow of conversation going. You may want to say things like:

  • “It can be so hard to keep our kids safe online and nothing is full-proof, unfortunately. If you discover some tricks, I’d love to hear about them.”
  • “I’ve tried several things to keep porn off our devices. Some have been great and some have been terrible! If you ever want to chat, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned and share what I know.”
  • “I know how awkward it can be to talk to kids about sex and porn. I had to get several resources to help me figure out how to do it. If you ever want to look at them, just let me know.”

In our situation, I ended up emailing the mom. I kept it to the events that happened and focused on how I was reaching out because of my desire to protect their daughter from any harm. My heart was pounding the whole time as I awaited her response. In the end, she was so thankful I told her. Her dad did his own research and they scoured her history to see where she was accessing it. It’s my hope that they had some great conversations that followed. The bonus was, they handled it in such a way that their daughter never knew it was my daughter that revealed her secret. All of our relationships were preserved.

Though I know that not all situations will end as ours did, I want you to encourage you to step out in faith and in love to protect kids and come alongside parents who may need your help in navigating these tricky and prevalent situations.