In our highly sexualized world, it’s easy for kids to confuse love with the pornified images available almost everywhere. They may see mom and dad kissing or hugging (expressions of love), but they also see highly sexualized images of others doing similar things (expressions of, umm, lust). To help kids sort this out, it’s crucial to teach children what love is and what love is not.
Why? To help them reject the lies of pornography when they see it. [See my list of five love lessons that counter five messages from porn.]
What Love is Not
Our friends at Fight the New Drug (FTND) say it in just three words: Porn Kills Love™. Porn is not about romance or improving your relationships (no matter how many misguided marriage counselors prescribe viewing it). It won’t get you what you really want, which is connection, intimacy and love. In fact, pornography use can destroy all of that.
FTND makes these comparisons between porn and love:
Porn Exploits People as Objects
Part of the reason pornography kills love is because it teaches viewers to objectify other human beings. In her book What’s the Big Deal about Pornography? Dr. Jill Manning describes this anti-love process:
“Pornography encourages people to be less sensitive and respectful toward others because it treats people like objects who simply exist to satisfy another person’s sexual urges or desires.”
She concludes that:
“When humans begin to objectify other humans, we lose part of our humanity and diminish our divine ability to love and care for others.”
Teaching kids what love is and what it is not will help them recognize that porn is not about love. It’s about exploitation and using others for selfish reasons.
5 Love Lessons to Counter Porn
I’ve taken five messages of love to counter five popular messages of porn. As kids learn these basic love lessons, they will be more able reject the violent and abusive pornography which is so easily available on the internet today. So teach by example, but point these out along the way.
- When you treat others with love, you feel happy. It’s true! Helping someone else is the quickest way to fill our happiness bucket! Helping someone feel happy and loved is a special power we all have. I love this video of a 12-year old boy at a Red Sox game who gave a foul ball to a little girl seated behind him. We all have the power to make others happy! And that is a big part of learning to love. (Porn teaches: When you care only for your own pleasure, you’ll be happy.)
- When you love another person, you try not to hurt them. Pornography is filled with violence, especially towards women. Porn stars act as though they enjoy being treated with disrespect or even physically tortured, but this is a lie. No one likes to be hurt. (Porn teaches: watching people being hurt in a sexual situation can be exciting! And look, these people (women, usually) enjoy being hurt!)
- When you love someone, you care about their feelings. Everyone has feelings inside. Watching pornography can make people not care as much about the feelings of others. (Porn teaches: Don’t waste your time empathizing with others—just get what you need and move on!)
- You should treat those you love with fairness. Kids have an acute sense of fairness. When something isn’t “fair” they hate it! Watching pornography is like voting for it. Is it fair to watch others doing something that they wouldn’t want their sisters or mom, brothers or uncle to do? No it isn’t. (Porn teaches: It’s fair to get what you want. Actors in porn are consenting adults so no worries! Unfortunately, that is not always true.) Once your kids are older, you can teach them about sex trafficking and how it’s tied to pornography.
- We love people for who they are on the inside, not for how they look on the outside. Girls especially, but boys too, are getting the message from popular media that their worth depends on outer beauty. It’s a great marketing scheme because it keeps consumers buying products and services promising to make us look younger, thinner, hotter, whatever. So catch yourself when you notice someone’s looks and start pointing out people’s inner beauty and qualities. Do it for your kids, too! (Porn teaches: Your only value is in how your body looks or performs sexually.)
Teaching kids about love and its counterfeit, porn, will help them reject harmful media whenever and wherever they encounter it. In fact, learning to recognize the value of true love is an important part of building a child’s internal filter.
A Recent 5-Star Amazon Review of Good Pictures Bad Pictures
“I couldn’t be happier! This book makes this whole conversation with your child seem so easy to explain.”