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Old 06-24-2003, 11:28 PM   #1
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Since You All Give Such Good Advice -- Parenting Question

You all have given such good advice lately, on such issues as taking care of neighborhood bullies, what to do when your friend can't face up to the fact that he's gay, etc, so I've got another one for you:

A friend of mine (not lurking around this site, so feel free to be blunt) has a live-in boyfriend and her two daughters (ages 10 and 12) at home. The boyfriend has recently changed jobs and now works at night. She is concerned because the BF is now home with the girls during the day (kids are off from school for the summer; she works daytime hours), and, she recently discovered, apparently spends at least some chunk of that time looking at porn on the internet.

Now, she's no prude -- porn's OK, in moderation, and there has been no reason to suspect that anything untoward is going on, or even might go on, but something about the current situation gives her the willies. As far as I know, they've not yet even discussed this, but she's wondering if:
a) her gut feelings of discomfort are way out of line;
b) she has any business telling him what he can and cannot look at, on the internet or otherwise;
c) she's a fool for not speaking up immediately;
d) this guy's a perv and has got to go.

Any advice?
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:56 PM   #2
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All women who love men must know: men love porn. If you think your man is different, you are wrong. Male sexual response is highly visual. It's just a fact of life.

Many men are freaked out by the idea that their woman might find out they love porn. There are standard guilt issues involved. So checking it out while the gal's not there might be a standard practice. In fact it may only be effective under those conditions.

And that kind of guilt might really complicate any kind of confrontation. Easy to imagine that discussion going wrong from the start.

I'm not gonna say I know from parenting, but I'd say there should be a standard revision of a speech on setting appropriate limits for one's self and how to respond to various people (familiar or no, trusted or no) trying to get around those limits. The girls have to learn to respond not only to a threat that mom sees, but the ones she doesn't see as well.
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Old 06-25-2003, 05:39 AM   #3
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Mostly what Tony says. There's no problem looking at porn. Define "moderation" and make sure that it means "at least once every day", because that's probably realistic.

He may be embarrassed to admit he's looking at it; she needs to say to him, lovingly, "Hey, just don't let the girls catch you, okay?" and - here's the important part - <b>not make a big deal of it</b>. If she makes a big deal, he'll know it's a big deal. If it comes up and is over in ten seconds, and she smiles, kisses him on the nose and walks to the kitchen to make dinner (or does <b>something</b> so that the subject isn't being brought back up), it's less likely he'll think it's a big deal to her. If he brings it back up to her, she needs to say "Honey, I don't mind you looking at it. It's okay. Just don't let the girls see." She needs to be friendly about it with him.

I actually first read this as "my friend is concerned that he's a pedophile and might fuck her daughters", and if that's the case... the daughters are probably old enough to deal with talking to their mom if something were to happen. She should have a talk with them and not say his name specifically, but say "if anyone ever touches you or" ... - you know the drill.

It doesn't sound like a bad situation to me (decidedly normal, actually), so tell her that the most important thing is to not make a big deal out of it, because that will only make it worse.
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Old 06-25-2003, 08:47 AM   #4
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The issue I see that hasn't been touched on yet is that assuming he's looking at it in private (if it's not in private that raises a whole nother set of problems), he's probably not paying much attention to what the girls are doing. (This is, to be fair, probably equally true if he were doing any number of other things--non-porn web surfing, reading a book, playing video games.) For those ages, 10 & 12, you don't want or need to be standing over them every minute, but you probably do want to know where they are and what they're doing. So depending on the "chunk" of the time being spent surfing, there MAY be an issue with whether the kids are being properly supervised.
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Old 06-25-2003, 12:06 PM   #5
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She sounds like a levelheaded person. and I am very hesitant to tell anyone to ignore gut level discomfort. I think it is an essential survival tool. Those signals are real and my advice is to listen and to stay tuned. You need to trust the people you place around your kids and she doesnt, I would guess the reasons are more than general porn discovery, even if they are still a bit unclear.

When to act and what to do, is hard to say without more info.

But given any scenario, it really comes down to risking the relationship or risking her kids. I would imagine she would rather appologize to him for her misjudgement than appologize to an abused daughter for her hesitancy.
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Old 06-25-2003, 02:50 PM   #6
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Thank you

Thank you for your reasonable replies, all of which touched on things she and I have discussed. Yes, she accepts a general, background level of 'visual erotica' as standard fare for males even in the most satisfying, healthy relationships, but her concern was that he was ogling while home alone with the girls.

She and BF had a frank discussion, and, while he was affronted that she would even have an inking of a concern, she calmly pointed out that, when it comes to one's children, one is ALWAYS going to be on the alert for any potential dangers. Turns out that she was wrong about when he was looking at what, and he assured her he would not be surfing when the girls were at home.

On the other hand, he's now irritated that she snooped through his browsing habits, and there's still that 'gut' feeling of wariness. They ended up having a good discussion about the basic level of trust/distrust in their relationship (based upon some earlier stuff for both of them -- completely unrelated to any of this), and seem to be heading in the right direction.

Thanks again, Cellarites, for your thoughts, and for not jumping all over my friend for any perceived inadequacies on her part.
Overcompensating for the 0.56% that is irredeemably corrupted.
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Old 06-25-2003, 05:48 PM   #7
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That's because your friend's situation isn't utterly fucking ridiculous. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
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