This article is part of “Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow,” a national campaign from the Safeguard Alliance and the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation to help parents protect children from the harms of pornography. #TalkToYourKids #TalkTodaySaferTomorrow
Dim the lights. Here comes Mom, walking into a silent room where everyone’s faces are lit by the glow of little screens. Tablets, phones, laptops, and video games click and ping through the darkness. She starts talking, but no one hears. They are totally absorbed.
Does this sound familiar? How do we break through?
We are the first generation of parents to raise kids in a digitally saturated world. But to be honest, technology isn’t really the enemy. It all comes back to our choices. We can use tech to communicate and connect, to educate and learn, and even to help and serve. But there is a sinister side too. As parents we fear that blurry line where addiction, pornography, cyberbullying, and other scary things creep in.
In the wake of all this fear and uncertainty, parenting resources are everywhere. In fact, a Google search for “digital parenting resources” yields a cool 42.4 million results in 0.4 seconds. We could spend literally thousands of hours sifting through books, articles, and videos on the topic. But where to start?
With a problem and solution that are both so overwhelming, it’s enough to make a mama run screaming through the streets!
But the truth is … There’s a simpler way to build resilient kids in a digital world. And it’s all about going back to basics.
At Media Savvy Mamas we refer to this process as “Raising the B.A.R.”
First we focus on Bonding with our children,
Then we instill Accountability,
After these foundations are in place, we utilize great Resources
In this article, we will use a parenting scenario that involves pornography, but this process can be adapted for any issue--from sharing nudes to cyberbullying--or even talking to kids about tough topics like sex. In fact, these are just great parenting practices in general!
Parenting Scenario: You were monitoring your daughter’s tablet and discovered that she has been viewing pornography. Now what?
STEP 1) BONDING
Sometimes it can be tempting to skip over this step and go right to scolding, consequences, and discipline. PAUSE. Rewind. Focus on the relationship first.
Everything begins with home and family. Start there. Don’t complicate things. Like we said, this is about going back to basics. You don’t need a to-do list or cue cards--just you and your child and a calm, peaceful, open environment.
Truthfully, when it comes to digital parenting, the most important thing we can do is to create a safe place our kids--where they feel that they can talk about anything--because that is what they will come back to. It is so important to build a foundation of trust.
We can create bonding experiences during both positive and negative moments with our children, but we need to be deliberate about it. Embrace little moments. Take time to have meaningful conversations in the car. Talk and laugh while you do the dishes, fold laundry or work in the yard. And don’t shy away from tough topics. Tackle them together! It’s never too early or too late to start building a healthy relationship with our children!
Parenting Scenario (continued): When you approach your daughter about the pornographic images you found, do it with love. Avoid anger and do not shame her. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. Try to smile, hug, or use humor (if appropriate) to help break the tension. Use this as a learning experience view it as an opportunity to grow closer to your daughter.
STEP 2) ACCOUNTABILITY
After focusing on the relationship, encourage your child to look inward for strength. There are definitely times when we need to be in charge. After all, we are the parents. But eventually we want our kids to feel responsible for their own actions and to learn to self-regulate.
Instead of designating yourself as the police, judge, or jury, take on the role of coach and mentor. Let your child know that you are there for support, and that you will work side-by-side to solve the problem, but put them in the driver’s seat.
If it is necessary to dish out some consequences, let your child have some input about what those consequences might be. You may be surprised with what they come up with! And chances are, if they help create the consequences, you’ll already have buy-in.
Parenting Scenario (continued): During your conversation with your daughter, try to listen more than you talk. Encourage her to explore her feelings and talk about why she made choices that led her to pornography. Ask her what she thinks the consequences for her actions should be. Encourage her to set goals, and help her make a plan to regulate her actions in the future. (See Resources below for ideas on making a plan.)
STEP 3) RESOURCES
Once you have established a strong foundation of trust with your child and instilled a sense of accountability, now is the time to utilize outside resources. This is where Media Savvy Mamas can help! We’re parents just like you, and we love sharing great articles, videos, books and other tools from MSM and our Allies in our quest for successful, positive digital parenting solutions.
If you have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or Contact Us. We’d love to chat! That’s what we’re here for.
Parenting Scenario (continued): Here are some great resources to help you talk to your daughter about pornography:
Parenting in a digital world is no easy task. But as we build a strong relationship with our kids, work to instill accountability, and follow up with great resources, we can overcome the odds and raise a resilient generation, one step at a time.
Happy Digital Parenting! ~MSM