|Photo: John Snape|
Yet things are changing, of course and sometimes not for the better. He came home the other day and told me about a sexual act that he'd heard about in the playground. Bejesus! I didn't know about that kind of thing until at least my late teens. It's not something I could possibly put down in writing without visibly reddening. 'Gee, Louis!' I remonstrated. 'I'd have been embarrassed to talk to my mum about stuff like that.' 'I'm not' he replied matter of factly. A few days later he proceeded to share with me a cartoon clip from 'Family Guy'; Now I've got a dirty sense of humour and it was right up my street though not exactly age appropriate viewing for an eleven year old.
I've thought long and hard about how to deal with this in a world that is way different to the 1970's Britain that I grew up in. One way would be to react angrily and give Lou a right royal telling off. But I'm a realist. Even if I ignore the problem it's not going to go away. So I've come to the conclusion that I prefer my son to share with me. At least I know what he's being subjected to and can have my own say. Some filters on electronic devices are handy too although not altogether fail-safe or, in my experience practicable.
One of the things that I'm trying to instill in Lou is why it's important to be selective about what he watches or listens to. Once images of extreme violence or pornography have been viewed, I'm warning him that they might stick around as unpleasant memories for a very long time adversely affecting his behaviour and interactions with other people. Best not look in the first place is my maxim which I'm repeating quite regularly. We adults need to take this seriously too. I got cross with someone who watched the video of the ISIS hostage Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned in a cage. Just imagining human suffering and degradation is enough. We do not need to experience things first hand that are likely to mess with our heads if we don't have to.