I Caught My Son Watching Porn - What Do I Do Next?

    finding-a-sons-pornIt’s one of those nightmare scenarios that you probably never thought about happening before it actually did. Then one day you find something shocking on your son’s computer. You’re so stunned that you just keep saying to yourself over and over again - “I can’t believe I’ve caught my son watching porn!”

    Now you’re little boy doesn’t seem so little anymore. How did this happen? If he’s 15 years old it’s a little more understandable than if he’s 8, but you may be surprised to learn that catching your son watching porn can happen at almost any age.

    GIVE ME ADVICE ON WHAT TO SAY TO MY SON

    Your reaction is likely to be very different depending upon whether you’re his mother or father. Mom’s are almost always appalled and horrified when they learn their son is looking at porn. Dad’s mostly see it as normal and not a big deal.

    Help! I’m freaking out!! I just discovered that my 11 year old son was watching porn last night. I found an image of a naked girl on his computer this morning after he left for school coz he left it open for some reason before going to bed. I’m a single mom and don’t know what I should do. -Erica

    What Does It Mean That Your Son Is Watching Porn?

    First, it’s normal for boys to be curious and interested in sex (girls too). And this can arise at any age. Second, it’s extremely common with the access we have today to nearly anything internet for boys to be looking at porn online or some kind of sexual images (like pics of half naked female classmates on Instagram, Snapchat or other social media channels). I regularly hear stories of kids in elementary school with cell phones taking naked pictures of themselves and sharing them.

    If you’ve caught your son looking at porn it doesn’t have to mean he has a porn addiction or will become a sex addict. So be careful where your thoughts go and how extreme your worries get. This is especially important for moms as this discovery is a wake up call that your little boy is also becoming a little man, and has desires just like any man.

    SON WATCHING PORN? LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT TO DO

    Having a son who’s watching porn doesn’t have to be about anything more than he’s a normal, curious boy growing up in a culture where sex is everywhere, not explained well, and used in unhealthy ways by a lot of people. So as a parent your responsibility (and opportunity) is to teach him how to navigate these challenges and develop a healthy view of sex and himself.

    Here’s one young man’s explanation of why he started watching porn:

    I started watching porn I believe after I lost my virginity about the age of 17. I am now 27. When I was younger it was more because of curiosity and the unknown of how to please a woman. I had the birds and the bees talk, but basically my mindset when I was younger that porn was to be used as a learning experience so I didn't let my sexual partner down." -Justin

    Unfortunately, for a lot of us the subject of sex comes with a lot of shame because of our own personal negative experiences with it. Your son being curious about sex is an opportunity to help him have a more positive and healthy experience with it throughout his life. What a wonderful gift to be able to give him and the future women in his life. I wish I’d gotten that and perhaps you do too.

    Another way shame can pop up is in thinking that because he's looking at porn it means you've failed as a parent. Boys watching porn doesn't make anyone a bad parent. How we handle it once we know about it, however, does allow us to make some important decisions about whether we're going to be a proactive parent and deal with the challenge or be the parent who ignores it until it becomes a problem that can't be ignored anymore.

    Check The Influence Of Your Own History With Sex

    We’ve all got a history with sex. Sadly, for many of us some of our experience isn’t positive or healthy. I come from a family with a history of sexual abuse, so I know that very personally. I also treat sexual abuse survivors, so I’m keenly aware of how easy past trauma can surface in our emotions and negatively impact talking about a sexual subject like porn. If you have any personal experience with any kind of sexual trauma (rape, molest, etc.), please be very mindful of how those experiences will color your response to your son’s viewing of pornography. This doesn’t mean anything bad about you, but this subject can trigger significant pain. We all have to be careful about this, even those like myself with years of training and experience in this field.

    WANT PORN OUT OF YOUR LIFE? LEARN MORE ABOUT PORN ADDICTION HERE

    As I mentioned earlier, women typically have a different reaction than men. But this this doesn’t mean that it’s always negative. Yes, mothers are usually offended and can easily overreact, but not always. They can also have a naive response and be more accepting than they should. Listen to Olivia talk about her boyfriend’s use of porn and note in the next to last line how she compares him to her son.

    I found he (boyfriend) was watching porn again! This time he promises again he won't continue. But nothing changes if nothing changes right! He is not doing anything different now to make changes visible. So I have no doubt porn will creep back into our lives again. However this time I have put blocks on his phone and laptop. But I hate feeling like his mother, I mean this would be acceptable if it were my teenage son in a few years. But this is just embarrassing that I even have to treat my boyfriend like a teenage child." -Olivia

    Olivia thinks she’d be more accepting of her son looking at porn than her boyfriend. Easy to say when it’s not actually happening - yet. Maybe she’s right, but probably not. The bigger problem here is the belief that porn is okay in some circumstances and not in others sets men up to have the longtime struggle her boyfriend now has. Porn is a drug, and most likely Olivia wouldn't have this conflicting standard if she were talking about cocaine.

    Fathers or male role models (step-fathers, mother’s boyfriends, uncles, etc.) can also have varying responses. As a whole most men will down play a boy looking porn since they most likely did it too. Odds are they still do. So for them it’s normal and to call it a problem for the boy means they have to consider that it could be a problem for them as well. In order to avoid this mental conviction and guilt it’s just easier to say it’s no big deal. Many men who’ve battled to stop watching porn though will also know the trap their son is entering, and although they may have no idea how to help him, nevertheless realize the potential problems that lie ahead for that young man.

    Couples who fight about watching porn like Olivia and her boyfriend will be ill-equipped to help their son too. In many relationships sex is already a sensitive subject and source of conflict for partners because of dissatisfaction with it within their own relationship. Now they have to be objective and non-emotional about it in dealing with their son. That's very tough to do.

    What To Do If You Catch Your Son Looking At Porn

    Don’t over-react. This is much easier said than done, but it’s very important. Nearly every parent who discovers his or her son’s watching porn is caught by surprise. It’s very possible that you’re reading this article after you’ve already reacted, and maybe as you read this you now realize you over-reacted. It’s not the end of the world - watch out for that "I'm a bad parent" shame to pop up. How you handle it from here is what’s most important.

    Your son is already going to be sensitive, uncomfortable and most likely very embarrassed about you knowing what he’s doing. What you don’t want to do is unintentionally shame him about his behavior. Shame is one of the elements that can lead to someone developing a porn addiction, while it will also drive people to porn for relief from it's emotional weight.

    My advice to woman if they suspect their man or future partner (or son) of watching porn is to just ask him to be honest about it and not shame him about it. Doing that would more than likely embarrass him and make him want to keep it from you." -Justin

    In most families sex is a subject that is not talked about. Interestingly, talking about porn can make people even more uncomfortable than having the birds and the bees conversation. But regardless of how uncomfortable you or your son may be about discussing it, catching him watching porn must lead to a series of conversations (not one and done) about porn and sex.

    I have a 13 year old son and we have talked about women, the objectification of women and what it means to respect a woman. I have also asked him about looking at porn and his feelings regarding it. It's healthy for a boy or man to want to look, but if it starts to control or inhibit real connections than it a problem!!" -CP

    Keep in mind that your son is most likely not going to completely honest with you and will probably tell you what he thinks you want to hear. Like CP’s son doubtlessly did above. Truthfulness about such an uncomfortable subject almost always must be built over time.

    Your goal should be to start a dialogue with your son about porn and sex. The purpose is to develop an open line of communication that makes it safe for him to talk and be honest about it. You want to be understanding about his interest in sex, even though you may not approve of his method. We want him to know that being interested is normal, but teach him that there are healthy and unhealthy ways to explore sex. If you're willing, you may find that sharing some of your own experience with porn or sex helps - I know that's probably a pretty unnerving idea.

    FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR SON

    Okay, so you've started to talk about his watching porn, now what? Now you've got to develop a plan for your son, and likely whole family, about porn and sex as a whole. This topic opens up a whole range of other issues - Is masturbation okay or not? What about his being sexually active? Contraception? You get the idea of how many other related questions can arise.

    Unfortunately, there's not enough space in this article for me to explain the different components of what I call a "porn safety plan," so I'm creating a recording that will go into much more detail and explain what and how to do develop a plan. There are tools you can use to manage access to porn and monitor your son's online activity. Understanding all the places porn can be accessed is really crucial to being an informed parent and not a naive one. If you'd like to know when we release this recording and get more help with your son watching porn, please click here so we have your email to notify you.

    When you're saying to yourself over and over again, “I can’t believe I’ve caught my son watching porn,” you've got a choice to make. Are you going to see this as a challenge or an opportunity? It can either be a challenge too scary to address so you're just going ignore it, or an opportunity that although intimidating you're still going to take on. I hope you'll see it as an opportunity (a challenging one, for sure) and learn how to help your son with the temptations of porn. It truly could be one of the best things you ever do for him.

    If you've caught your son watching porn would you mind sharing your story? Maybe you haven't caught him yet but you've got concerns he could be looking at porn. Please share those too in a comment below. The community of other parents that regularly visits this site will support you. The worst thing is being confused and feeling all alone - you don't have to be. Learn more about how to help your son with porn here.

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