Two weeks ago, my 7-year old son asked if he could Google something on my phone. After I PROMISED not to change my face when he told me what it was, he whispered in my ear: Naked Girls.
I was a little confused.
“You’ve seen your sister naked, so what exactly are you trying to see?”
“Well, I just want to see A LOT of them.“
OK, then. I head on over to my favorite sex ed site, Amaze.org, which I highly recommend for all parents, especially their new Amaze Jr. section. We find a few age-appropriate animated videos about male and female anatomy. After watching the videos, very intently I might add, he looks at me and says, “Well I still want to see PICTURES of naked girls.”
Oh goodness. Are we talking about pornography now? I hadn’t prepared myself for this conversation, and scramble to come up with a good angle. Since he’s private about his own body, I simply asked if he’d want other people to find a naked photo of him on the internet. The answer was an obvious no. We agreed it would not be cool if we could find pictures of other naked kids on the internet either.
I was proud of him for being curious, and proud of him for asking such insightful questions – and told him so. I also let him know that there’s a lot of bad and wrong information on the internet about bodies and sex, and if we google something like “naked girls,” we might not get the right answer.
This resonated immediately. Because he doesn’t want to be a dummy about this topic anymore than he wants to be a dummy about Pokemon or the running speed of a cheetah.
I wrap up the conversation by telling him that his friend are probably going to find that bad and wrong information, and might even share it with him. And when they do, he can always come to me to get smart about it.
Benefits of a Single Uncomfortable Conversation
Whether a conversation with a seven-year old or a seventy-year old, even a single uncomfortable conversation about sexual violence have many benefits. In the case of the conversation with my son:
- We established the trust and confidence that we could talk about uncomfortable things. The ice is now broken and it’s a lot easier for either of us to bring up the topic again.
- Both my son and I can pay the conversation forward. Now that I have – and am willing to share – this story, you can have a reference point for a similar conversation. You now know that if your child can spell, it’s time to have a conversation about internet safety. Even if you’d do it differently – better I hope! – it’s not brand new.
- My son now is now equipped to talk to peers about bodies, internet safety, and why naked pictures don’t belong online. His friends’ parents may or may not have similar conversations with their kids at home. But even if they don’t, they will benefit from having a peer who had this one conversation with his mom.
This wasn’t the first conversation I had with my child about bodies, boundaries and sex – and it certainly won’t be the last. Every conversation we have is important, and the value builds as we make them a habit over time.