Okay, for Reader Question Monday I thought I’d run one of the most cringe-worthy questions I’ve ever received: What do you do if your child sees a sex photo of you?
A reader writes:
My 10 year old daughter began using a laptop for school this year, but she is not very computer savvy. I generally set it up for her and she stays on the school website – no browsing! Weeellll, this afternoon, she got confused about something and, for whatever reason, thought she had deleted the web browser so went searching for it in the computer’s trash can. It was there that she saw a very compromising photo of her father and I engaged in oral sex. I had no idea that photo was on that computer and am totally horrified! She was crying and traumatized. I haven’t even explained sex to her and I can’t imagine explaining this. I assured her that what I was doing in the picture was in no way sinful and it was something only between her daddy and I, because we are married. In between tears, she was rather curious, but in a horrified sort of way. I also had her pick out a favorite photograph that represents a fun memory. I suggested that, any time she thinks of the computer photo, she should immediately say/think “No!” and then look at her favorite photo and focus her thoughts on remembering that special time. Also, completely deleted the other photo off of the computer and we talked about asking for help and only letting mom or dad open programs and things on the computer for her protection.
Oh, yikes. Oh, crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.
I can just imagine. Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck.
Let’s try to tackle this one, shall we?
Just don’t take sexy photos of yourself.
A few years back we got into a debate on the blog about whether or not it was okay to take sexy photos of yourself. There was an interesting back and forth in the comments about boudoir photos, but the point I was trying to make is that, from a purely marriage standpoint, it isn’t always the best idea because it can reinforce the pornographic view of sex, rather than the intimate view of sex. And you can’t beat porn by becoming porn.
Of course, if you don’t struggle with porn, then this may not be as big of an issue.
But regardless, there’s one overarching issue that can’t be ignored:
Someone else could see those sex pictures!!!!
Many phones automatically save pictures to the cloud, without you realizing. Many phones automatically back up into Dropbox on your computer, without you even realizing. Just because a picture is “deleted” doesn’t mean it’s gone (as this mom found out!).
And what would happen if you and your husband died all of a sudden (not to be morbid)? What if family was going through your computer to find important documents or things to remember you by? (Oh, yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes!!!!)
Yes, you may be able to get around it if you’re very tech savvy and you have passwords on the photos, but is it worth the risk? So I’d just say be super, super careful, and maybe this is something that’s best not done.
But, what if you have inadvertently saved sexy pictures of you and your husband to your computer, and your child sees?
Downplay it as much as possible
I know your heart rate will be going at a million beats a minute and you’ll be freaking out inside. But things tend to stick in kids’ minds for longer if they’re associated with strong emotions. If you do not freak out and don’t raise the tension level, then perhaps they won’t realize what a big deal this is and it may be able to be brushed off easier. So try to keep yourself matter-of-fact. Make a very quick prayer and ask God to quiet your heart and calm your child before you say anything!
If they don’t know about sex yet…
If they’re very young and aren’t even aware of what sex is, then just be nonchalant, and say something like, “I didn’t mean for you to see that, honey, because that’s just for Daddy and me. When married people are together, sometimes we touch each other because it feels good, but you really don’t need to think about that now until you’re older.”
If they do know about sex…
Don’t assume that just because the child knows what sex is that they will realize that this is what they saw! I know that sounds strange, but kids have a hard time actually picturing what sex may look like, and the shock of the picture may not register as “this is what Mommy and Daddy were talking about when they told me that’s where babies came from.”
So try a similar approach as above, with a few modifications: “Remember how we told you that married people like to touch each other? Well, that’s what that is, but it’s something special between married people, and I am so sorry that I left that where you could see it.”
I like this mom’s idea of substituting another image…
If your child is very upset, I really like this mom’s idea of thinking about a great picture and conjuring that up whenever you think about the sex photo. I think that’s very creative!
Pray that God will protect your child’s mind
Kids really can forget images! It doesn’t have to affect them for a long time or scar them for life. It really doesn’t. So just pray God’s protection over their minds, and pray for peace for yourself, because you’ll need it! (and I know it may be hard to sleep for a while after that!).
What if your child inadvertently sees porn?
We’ve been talking about kids seeing personal pictures, but let’s face it: Kids can also be doing absolutely nothing wrong online and come across some really pornographic images.
When my kids were about 10-12, I remember watching some Agatha Christie Miss Marple movies with them. Agatha Christie, people! That’s safe, right?
Apparently not. We were watching A Pocketful of Rye, and right in the middle of it, with no warning, is a scene of a couple having sex in not exactly the missionary position. You couldn’t see body parts, but it was obvious what they were doing. It was only about a 5 second clip, but boy was it jarring. I had to hit pause really quickly and say to the girls, “Okay, let’s just ignore that! That really shouldn’t have been there.”
I also remember when Katie was 13 having an incident with a Facebook group she was part of. It was one of these groups for Christian girls about how beauty is on the inside, and tell each other we’re beautiful, etc. etc. Pretty harmless stuff. A bunch of teen girls that she knew had joined, so she joined.
The group had 125,000 members.
Well, somebody decided to post some extremely graphic disgusting porn pictures on that group’s wall. I saw them; Katie hadn’t. So I made Katie remove it from her profile, and all was “well”, I suppose.
But what it reinforced to me is that you can’t protect my kids from everything. Even when you think you’re taking a ton of precautions, stuff still gets through. That’s why I think it’s great to have Covenant Eyes filters on your computers, tablets, and devices, to reduce the risk that they’ll inadvertently come across something. (And when you sign up with Covenant Eyes, and use the coupon code TLHV, you get a month free!)
It’s also just important, though, to keep the lines of communication open about sex, certainly at least by the time the kids are 10, so that they understand that sometimes they may see naked pictures, and what to do when they come across it.
So after that totally cringe-worthy question, I’d love to hear some wisdom from you! Did this ever happen to you and your kids? Or did you ever see your parents in a compromising position? Any words of wisdom for us? Let’s talk in the comments!