Many of us Millennials have younger brothers or sisters who are growing up in a time and culture that is even more sexually toxic than the world we experienced as children and teens. Knowing how challenging it is, we have a chance to help our siblings be more prepared than we were to know how and why to stay away from pornography.
Pain can motivate us
Holly Fullmer is one Millennial who went out of her way to help her younger brother. Like most of us, she is busy, but loves to spend time with friends. She is a university student and emergency room nurse. She comes from a big family with seven sisters and one brother. When she has free time she loves to do anything outdoors, especially horseback riding.
Like many of us, Holly went through a painful experience when someone she cared about was struggling with pornography. At the time, she didn’t know very much about pornography and she was confused about how someone so good could be struggling with something so bad. She wanted to understand the problem better, so she studied a lot from sources such as Fight the New Drug. She found that for her, learning about this hard issue doesn’t make you more open to evil, but more sensitive, aware, and cautious about media.
As she was looking into the facts, she was surprised to learn that pornography use often starts very young, even at 8 or 9. She was blown away as she realized that was the same age of her little brother. When they were together, she thought about how much she loved him and what great potential he had for a wonderful life. Holly’s church and spirituality are important to her, and through prayer she had an impression to talk to him about pornography. One Sunday evening, the house was quiet and she had a feeling she should go talk to him about it.
It doesn’t need to be awkward
When Holly started the conversation, it wasn’t awkward because they already had a good foundation of serious conversation in the past. She was surprised to find that he had a laptop he had borrowed from a friend in his bedroom. She didn’t tiptoe around the subject, because she felt that he was smart and mature for a 9-year old and that he was up to the conversation.
Straight up, she asked, “Have you ever heard of pornography?” She described that it was images and videos with naked people and it was all over the Internet. She explained that it’s a good thing that bodies are beautiful; God created them that way, but Satan wanted to twist that desire into something harmful because he knows how wonderful marriage and relationships can be for us. Even though we might know we shouldn’t look at it, sometimes we are curious and keep looking.
Reassure them they are just a normal kid
Her little brother seemed both alarmed and interested. Holly taught him that viewing pornography changes the way our minds think about people and the world. It can get so we can’t stop looking, it makes us sad, and it can affect our relationships.
She told him that this is ruining people’s lives, “even boys as young as you.” When she asked, “Have you seen anything like this before?” he told her that yes, he had seen things on YouTube, and he wanted to look away but he couldn’t. She reassured him that he was normal, we all react to those kinds of videos like that.
She was pleased that he seemed to understand more than she expected him to. They watched a video together called What Should I Do When I See Pornography?, and he really liked it. Holly told him that pornography doesn’t have to part of his life at all – we have the power to turn it off and talk to an adult for help. She reminded him that he could always talk to her, and he agreed.
Not just information, but connection
She was grateful that it didn’t feel awkward at all. He said he didn’t think mom or dad would have talked to him about it, he had never talked to anyone about it before. Holly felt like she was meant to talk to her brother, and it turned out to be a sweet and even spiritual experience for them. She feels encouraged, knowing that he now has an educated view and can make the choice.
Holly still checks in with him on occasion – she feels it’s important to keep asking to help build accountability.
Thinking about this experience, Holly said, “I felt like waiting for the right moment was important – it felt like the right time. I had studied and thought about it and was prepared to talk about it, even the science side of it. I could make a logical argument about how it not only affects emotions but how our brain thinks.”
Even though Holly wasn’t a parent, she cared enough about her brother enough to take some responsibility and help him understand how important staying away from pornography is. Because they already had a good relationship, he trusted her. We know that having a strong relationship with someone is important to staying safe and healthy on this issue. She not only taught him some facts and information, but give him a safe connection to turn to as time goes on and he encounters things in the future that are both dangerous and enticing.
Kick-start the pornography conversation in your family
How can we help our families? Do we have their trust, and have we talked about other challenging issues? If so, we have set the foundation for a crucial conversation about pornography. Especially if we know our parents aren’t having those conversations yet, we could sit down with mom and/or dad and talk about why we feel it’s so important that our family talks to kids as they are growing up. How awesome if both the parents and big brothers or sisters all reach out to the young ones! If we start early, they will have someone to turn to as they grow.
One easy and effective way to start a conversation with kids is just sit down and read a picture book together. Good Pictures Bad Pictures for elementary age kids and Good Picture Bad Pictures Jr. for 4-6 year olds are a really great resources. What kid wouldn’t love their big sis or big brother to spend time reading to them?
You’ve got this
However, it is never too late to start connecting with our family, even if we are all grown up! Not only will we build stronger relationships, but we will help change the culture of silence that has allowed so much damage to go unopposed. We are the bridge generation – the ones who learned the hard way how harmful pornography is and how we can help the younger generation be more aware and open to talking about it. Maybe we will feel as Holly did, that even though she went through pain to help her little brother, he’s worth it.
Our story comes from Holly Fullmer, who grew up in Genola, Utah with her 7 sisters and 1 brother. She lives in Provo, Utah and works as a Registered Nurse in the ER. She is finishing her degree at Utah Valley University. She loves camping, sports, hiking, skiing, and especially horseback riding. Thanks for sharing Holly!