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What's a sex-positive parent to do? Asking for my kid.

Howdy Fellow Sex Nerds!

I'm not really asking for a friend, I'm asking for my kid. I mean, I guess my kid is my friend, but mostly he's my kid and I'm asking this as his dad.

Anyhow, it recently came to our attention that my son has discovered, uh, erotic content on the internet. We didn't invade his privacy - me and his mom weren't spying on him or anything - but we did come across some awkward content in his browsing history.

You folks have always been so great at providing answers to our questions about some of the issues that have arisen in our relationship over the years and we really trust your judgment especially around sexuality, so we figured we'd hit you up with this quandary.

It isn't a problem that our son is looking at, uh, arousing material, but I'm just really worried that the stuff he's looking at is degrading and not realistic. Should I try to find some age-appropriate erotic material for him to explore? He's just turned 9, and neither of us were prepared for this - we thought we still had a few years before we'd be having these kinds of conversations.

Anyhow, any help or guidance would be much appreciated!

- Sex-Positive Parents

Hello Parents!

Kids are definitely hitting puberty earlier than ever - both physiologically and psychologically - and with the easy access the internet provides to explicit videos and images, it makes navigating sex positive parenting more challenging than ever (and it's always been challenging for parents to talk to kids about sex).

One of the questions you asked was about finding more age-appropriate arousing material for your kid, and while we're not sex educators, we feel pretty confident that it is best to not provide sexually explicit material for your kid. Even the most pure intentioned efforts in this regard are more likely to shape your kid's future sexual landscape in ways neither of us could possibly imagine.

One of our founding members watched porn with his sex therapist parents as a teenager, and he went on to found a sex-positive, co-operative sex shop and write sex education books for kids. A cautionary tale if ever there were one.

Anyhow, I think there are a couple of considerations here! First off, if you have an open dialogue going with your kids about sexuality, it is super important to keep that conversation going. I didn't get a clear sense from your message if your son is just checking out random images through google searches or if he has discovered full-on internet porn, but if you feel he is looking at stuff that is too explicit for someone his age, or if he's looking at stuff that's violent or degrading, definitely have a conversation with him about it.

It is okay to put limits on - or rather, to ask him to self-limit - what he's looking at (if he can't or won't adhere to those limits, you can consider putting parental blocks on some content later). I think it is just mostly important to let him know that there's nothing wrong with being curious about or aroused by the content he's finding online, but to impress upon him that not everything is okay to look at (especially at his age) and to let him know why.

If you haven't had an ongoing conversation with him through his life about sexuality, now is a great time to start! There are some amazingly sex-positive books for kids that you might want to check out. Sex is a Funny Word is written by the aforementioned sex educator, and while your son might be a tiny bit too old for it, he's technically in the right age range. It is incredibly comprehensive and a great resource for parents too.

If you think he's falling more into the "teen" category in terms of maturity, Scarleteen has a recently updated version of their S.E.X. book out, but again, it is intended for a slightly older audience. In terms of resources for parents, Marty Klein has some great content on talking to your kids about sex and porn on his blog, but there's definitely other good stuff out there about sex positive parenting.

I hope this provides some good starting points! Good luck in your very challenging endeavour here and feel free to hit us up anytime for leads.