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When My Child Sees Porn

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Thursday 25 Feb 2016 | Peter Janetzki – Counsellor/Psychotherapists/Educator | 1182 words

When I was a child (which some would say was in the dark ages but in reality it was the pre-digital era) pornography was not readily available to children. Because the primary mode of delivery of porn was print media or role to role film which most families didn’t have access to. Consequently exposure was limited to finding your Dad’s or someone else’s Dad’s stash, or having the courage to attempt to purchase the said material (which was kept under the counter) at the local store. For me this was not an option as in the relational world of my neighbourhood the store keeper would have told me off and informed me that he was going to tell my mum. And what was often seen was pretty tame compared to what is being pushed upon our children of today.

The technologically revolution ushering in the digital era has forever changed a child’s limited relationship with pornography!

The research is very clear that by our children’s late teen years almost every one of them will be exposed to porn, and it is our boys who will become the major consumers of pornography spending more time and with greater frequency than our girls, which in turn becomes the “cornerstone of the autoerotic sexuality of males”.

In response to the proliferation of porn some great resourcesNFK-flyer-small have been developed to assist parents in developing cyber protective behaviours in our children. One of the most recent ones is a children’s story book title ‘Not for Kids’ written by a colleague of mine Liz Walker and beautifully illustrated by Anita Mary. Check it out http://www.notforkids.info/store/ even ask your council library to get it.

After the ‘Porn Harms Kids’ symposium Liz asked me if I know of any resources for parents for after their children were exposed to pornography, and I didn’t know of any of the top of my head, hence this blog. But before I answer the question at hand I think that there are a couple of imperative actions that we as parents most do with our children growing up in the digital world.

  1. Because children’s brains are growing and developing they are naturally inquisitive. Seeking to understand ourselves and our world including our sexuality is normal. Therefore it is vital that we as parents create an environment at home where it is safe for our children to ask and share about anything. So engage our kids in conversation from a young age and make your home a place where we as a family talk and talk about anything and everything.
  2. Have an age appropriate conversation about what to do if our children tttsee something (not just on the computer but anywhere) that they don’t understand or don’t like focusing on that it is important for them to come and talk to us about it. Wendy Francis (wendy.francis@acl.org.au) has produced this fridge magnet ‘Turn, Think & Tell’ which is just the ticket for kicking off such a conversation.

Now back to the key question of what to do when your child has been exposed to pornography?

First of all don’t panic and don’t react. Young children don’t have adult concepts or understanding of sex and sexuality. Reacting sends the message that this is really bad and for kids they internalise this as ‘I have done something bad’ or ‘I AM BAD’. Which only adds to their confusion – the confusion of seeing this stuff that they don’t understand and yet triggers strange feelings, and the confusion of Mum or Dad reacting so it must be a big deal but they don’t know why? The message of being bad is not the message we want to accidently impart to our children.

A couple of things that can really help us as parents to not react is slowing down and breathing and taking a little time to get over the shock before engaging in a conversation with your child. Also manage your own fears don’t buy into thoughts like ‘my child will now grow up to be a porn addict’ or ‘this will turn them into a sex crazed nymphomaniac’ instead that this is an opportunity to help my child develop some critical thinking skill so that they can navigate our sometimes crazy world better.

Remember if we are anxious about this and if we have an anxious child then their anxiety will feed of yours!

Secondly find out what they say by asking them. Avoid asking them to show you just ask them what was it that they saw and listen to the words that they use to describe it. This then becomes the language of engagement. There is a time to clarify using the correct anatomical names as part of the normal conversation i.e. a child might say “a man was playing with his private parts” and an appropriate reply could be “a man was playing with his penis”.

Thirdly find out how your child felt about seeing this content. It is important to normalise their feelings no matter what they are. Responding to them like “it made you fell yukky that’s okay I think it is yukky too” allows our child to see that their feelings are not wrong or bad, rather they just are.

Fourth is to ask if they have any question. Often children don’t have any questions at that time however reassure them that they can come and ask there question or share their concerns any time with yourself.

Fifth is to talk about your family values. Teaching our children about what is appropriate and not appropriate is a crucial part of developing self-censorship skill. For young children it may be something like, “as a family we don’t like yukky things that scare us or confuse us so that’s why we don’t watch things like that. With older children the question, “what is the message in this & is this the kind of message that we accept within our family?”

Sixth teach critical thinking skills and self-protective behaviours. Ask them what they will do if they see something like this again. The two resources above can help here especially ‘Turn, Think & Tell’. My daughters grew up knowing that there is heaps of yukky stuff out in the world, not just on the internet, but on billboards, TV, advertising, movies and music videos. And as a result of sitting with them watching and discussing many of the messages that bombarded them I am proud to say that they grew into their teens with an ability to think for themselves and the ability to change TV channels when something inappropriate came on.

Lastly monitor your child & trust your parental instinct. For most children once they have processed what they saw they move on and get back to the busy job of being a kid. Occasionally some children may become distressed and anxious following an inappropriate exposure to distressing materials. So monitor and if there are changes happen to their normal routines and patterns and your gut says something is still up then seek out help from a skilled child/adolescent counsellor/psychologist/therapists.

Remediating the negative impact of the Pornification of our Sex Lives

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Thursday 11 Feb 2016 | Peter Janetzki – Counsellor/Psychotherapists/Educator | 1233 words

When pornography was introduced to mainstream western society by Playboy back in 1953 it was the beginning of a revolution that transformed an understanding of male sexuality by promoting Heffner’s playboy lifestyle as the ultimate dream for the average man. By 1969 Playboy’s circulation was 4.5M per month contributing to the development of a new but prevailing attitude that pornography was part of normal male sexuality.

With the development of technology and in particular the Domain Name Systems (DNS) in 1984, pornography has infiltrated every aspect of our homes from fashion, advertising, and music video clips. With almost every home having access to the internet pornography is just a single click away and unfortunately by accident porn is often an uninvited guest into our family homes. Reed Johnson cited by Gail Daines, (2010, p. 99) said that,  “Fashion also is taking more aesthetic cues from porn, including the growing popularity of genital piercing and shaving, which was popularized by adult film actors.”

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. To put it into perspective Hollywood produces 300 to 400 movies a year whereas the porn industry produces 8,000 to 15,000 movies a year. Like it or not our world has been impacted by pornography even for those of us who find it inappropriate and repulsive. Just think for a moment how many of those in the public eye, politicians, sporting stars etc. who have been exposed of sending explicit photos and/or lude text messages? Off the top of my head I can list more than all the digits on my hands and feet!

You may well ask how it has impacted me even when I have not consumed any pornography? The answer is simple. Modern pornography is invasive and indiscriminate in its proliferation, resulting in most of our children being exposed to it at some point in their lives. This exposure combined by the social acceptance, as porn being a part of normal male sexuality, has transformed our understanding of the meaning of sex in relationships ever so subtlety, but profoundly, for the worse.

Pornography, (soft through to gonzo) has inundating our girls and women with the message that their most worthy attribute is their body and their sexual hotness. And that their relational role is to enjoy whatever their male sexual partner wants to do to their body even if it is distasteful, painful and cruel because it is about his pleasure ultimately. There is overwhelming evidence that these messages have eroded the self-esteem of our girls and women, stripping them of their sense of themselves as whole human beings. This objectification has shifted them from being a HUMAN BEING to a SEXUAL DOING!

However our girls and women are not the only victims of pornography so are our boys and men. With more than twenty years of working with men and couples that have been profoundly impacted by problematic pornography use I am yet to meet a man with a compulsive pornography problem who was not exposed to pornography by the age of ten to twelve years. Sure there are other contributing factors to the development of their struggle with porn however early exposure is a common thread.

Boys who grow up to become men who have problematic pornography use become conditioned to believing and expecting that sex is all about their own narcissistic pleasure. And that the further they push the boundaries into violent, degrading, domineering and often dangerous practices the better their orgasm will be. So now sex is about the individual pleasure seeking of entitled males driven by primal animal urges.

How can a generation of men and boys remediate this invasive toxic sexual worldview after consuming decades of insidiously destructive pornography? By learning mastery of my thinking and my mind!

The neural pathways and networks that have be built and reinforced by partaking in pornography can be changed however it takes time, effort and hard work to break these networks and rewrite new ones. (I will expand on the topic of the brain and pornography at another time.) So let me break this down into four helpful tools.

1.      Create a new understanding of the meaning of sex. Historically we have referred to sex as making love and I know nothing in pornography which is about love, mutual love, that involves giving and receiving which engenders feelings and emotions such as, connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, and affection. I call this Meaningful Connected Sex. So become a student of your spouse/partner. Learn about what she likes and dislikes. Learn about how she ticks, what makes her happy and said, what brings a smile to her face and then start doing some of these things without expecting sex in return. Do it for the sake of love. At this point most blokes I work with say something like but ‘I need sex’. Sorry mate you don’t. You will not die from not having sex! However you do need MEANINGFUL CONNECTION so work on building this first.

2.      Shift your thoughts from focusing on yourself and your perceived needs and start focusing on her. To do this you have to become aware when you are disconnecting from your spouse/partner by being off in your own head thinking about getting off and your own pleasure. Catch when this happens and refocus back onto the person you are making love to rather than the images in your heard. A helpful tip here for the spouse/partner is when you notice them disconnect then gently stop what you are doing and look at them and wait for them to reconnect with you. When they do smile and welcome them back to connection and then continue. The worst thing a spouse or partner can do is get bent out of shape and offended as this will make things go from bad to worse in a nanosecond.

3.      Thought Stopping. One of the most invasive aspects of pornography is that these blokes end up with a head full of unhelpful pornographic images. Learning to manage these images and associated thoughts that get triggered in your head is essential. So become self-aware and catch them when they happen rather than entertain them. Then push them aside. Martin Luther is credited with answering a question about dealing with temptation saying, ‘you can’t stop birds from flying over your head but you can stop them nesting on (or in) your head.
Two things can be helpful in this; i. Focus on a distraction, ii. Thinking about wanting the best for you spouse/partner. Focusing on mutual love, respect, tenderness care and connection. Remind yourself that your sexual worldview is wrong and that it is not all about me.

4.      Co-create a sense of a unique US. A combination of you and her, not just two people who share the same bed. This requires listening and sharing and developing understanding as well as having fun, laughter and play. (I will talk about this at another time under the topic of Robust Conversation).

I think it is time to stop giving the pornographers, who are interested in making money and don’t give a rip about the quality of personal lives, the power of determining our sexual worldview. We need to reclaim what has been lost and invest in building meaningful connected relationships in which sex is an extension of connecting with my spouse/partner with my mind, my heart, my body and my genitals.

 Gail Daines, (2010), Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, Beacon Press

© Peter Janetzki – 2016

TED Talks – How movies teach manhood by Colin Stokes

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I was recently asked to watch this TED Talk on Manhood by Colin Stokes and to share my thoughts. Hence I thought that I would share it here also.

Logging in to TED Talks the first thing I noticed was that this particular video was on twice and the first on had been viewed by 580,418 times and the second one 2,303,106 times. I also checked YouTube and the same video had been viewed 1,149,020 which means a lot of people have watched Mr Stokes presentation.

Mr Stokes starts with talking about when his 3-year-old son became obsessed with Star Wars and he questions what are the messages that his son absorbed from the sci-fi classic. Mr Stokes goes on to ask “for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.”

On the surface Mr Stokes line of thinking appears to be valid however at the 09:45 mark he links sexual abuse of women with movies failing the Bechdel test and then makes the logical leap that male power is destructive. To quote him, “We have tools at our disposal, like girl power. And we hope that that will help. But I gotta wonder, is girl power gonna protect them if at the same time, actively or passively, we are training our sons to maintain their boy power?”

Wow! What a simplistic response with giant leaps of gender (radical) feminism faith in his assumptions. I wanted to tell Mr Stokes  to stop attacking just Pixar & Disney and take on the whole porn industry that has been more destructive to women & men and cross gender relationships than all the kids movies combined.

More importantly I don’t think Mr Stokes understand the role and use of power for both men and women as it is obvious that he sees girl power so good and boy power as problematic. But this is in line with gender (radical) feminism! The abuse of power is not confined to males, ask any woman about how bullying happens to 10 year old girls in year 5 at school. Social Isolation and It’s terrible!

Teaching boys authentic manhood is not about seeing their power as bad but rather to move from proving their power to embracing their power knowing that it is not about them but the greater good of society.

 

Parenting Seminar – ‘Raising Boys to be Great Men’

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Raising boys in this current day and age can prove to be quite a challenge. In this seminar Peter will be exploring how you can help instill positive values, morals and principles in your son’s life and help shape and raise him to be a great man that you are proud to call your son.
Tuesday 1 April – 7 – 9pm
Birkdale South State School – Mutipurpose

For more Information Contact: Rachel Rubio – rachelc@chappy.org.au – 0401 668 807

Congratulations Vikki Roubin – Master of Counselling

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It is a year ago today I graduated with a Masters in Counselling. Today it is my colleague Vikki Roubin’s turn. To return to study in midlife with the demands of work and family, not to mention the energy limitations of being in the second half of life, is no small feat. However, along with Vikki I discovered something about mature age learning. We are those annoying students (to undergrads) who sit up the front of class and ask a hundred questions. When Peter Janetzki was my lecturer, I bombarded him with endless issues, ranging from managing a work/life balance (I had burned out as a pastor), developing a strong alliance with clients, ethical dilemmas, complex situations and more. Mature-age learners are like giant sponges; decades of doing life leads to countless questions about how to help people make sense of their own pain. Read More

Vikki Roubin Joins Our Team

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Vikki’s story; a memoir called, Wobbly: One Woman’s Journey to Onward and Upward, published in 2010 was awarded the Caleb Award for best non-fiction memoir for 2011.

Vikki’s passion in life is to help people. To this end she has twenty-five years experience as a singing teacher/voice therapist and mentor. Due to her increasing satisfaction in the therapeutic side of her work she is currently completing her masters in counseling at Christian Heritage College. Having journeyed with dozens of women through their personal crises, Vikki is particularly interested in the areas of mental health, abuse issues and trauma recovery.

Vikki is a gifted communicator who is regularly invited to present her message at schools, corporate functions, support groups, and training seminars. She’s been married for 24 years, has two teenage children and one naughty beagle.