Paying it Forward

The last thing I wanted to do as a teenager was to think or talk critically about porn. One ten-minute discussion during my freshman year health class had felt like more than enough. Like most of my peers, I thought I had it all sorted out on my own. Now, six years later, those same conversations I squirmed at are the ones I can’t help but start.

Why should I care? As a young adult well past my introduction to porn and years away from parenthood, some people find it difficult to understand why I care about porn education. My initial lack of interest didn’t shift until my perspective did. When I began to think beyond my own experience I realized that these conversations aren’t just about individual families and children. When we talk about porn education, we’re working to support healthier children, healthier relationships, and a healthier community.

I care now because I want my children to grow up feeling comfortable asking questions and sharing openly. I want their educators to be willing and well equipped to teach about porn, and I want to know that I’ll have all of the resources I could hope for.

It’s time to pay it forward. Advocating for the education that we wish we had will pave the road for generations of happier and healthier kids to come. The more we talk honestly about porn, the sooner we can create a culture that fosters safety and communication rather than shame and silence.

So what exactly does it mean to pay it forward?

Reflection and re-learning – In order to pay anything forward, we must begin by considering our own experiences. Whatever work can be done now to address and repair our biases or associations related to porn will not only serve us well but also set a strong example. Showing up in conversation with a willingness to be vulnerable and honest will empower kids to do the same with themselves and with their peers and adults in their lives.

Like reflection, re-learning is a service as much for ourselves as it is for each other. Constant re-learning is essential to stay on top of health and safety and it provides yet another empowering example for kids of advocating for themselves and striving to stay informed.

Culture of communication – In the bigger picture, “paying it forward” is to begin building a strong culture of communication. The sooner we start talking honestly about porn and the more frequently we do it, the easier it will become. This communication shouldn’t be reserved just for the Third Talk between parent and child. We all need to participate consistently in building out a culture that allows space for curiosity, vulnerability, and honesty when we’re talking about porn.

Starting (and continuing!) these conversations is an investment in our kids, our communities, and their futures.

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