Relationships, Sex, and Teens with ADHD
with Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST
Let’s talk about sex! It’s a conversation most parents are too uncomfortable to have with their kids, and yet, it’s one of the most important conversations for parents and teens, even more so when your child has ADHD. The risks of having sex as a teen are substantially magnified when that teen has ADHD. Statistics show that the prevalence of teen pregnancy and STD’s is much, much higher in the adolescent ADHD population.
The sex talk with your kids doesn’t have to be nearly as painful as you imagine it. In this episode, Dr. Ari Tuckman walks us through the when, why, and how of this important conversation. We discuss starting the conversation about romantic relationships when our kids are young, how to talk about sex and sexuality with our teens, keeping our kids safe when they’re prone to impulsivity and risky behavior, strategies to help keep our adolescents safe in the heat of the moment, and, most importantly, how to open the door for our teens to come to us and keep talking to us about relationships and sex.
Resources in this Episode
NOTE: Some of the resources below may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Chapter 5 of ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship
- Purchase Dr. Tuckman’s book, ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship
ARI TUCKMAN, PSYD, CST
Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST is a psychologist, certified sex therapist, and ADHD expert. He has given more than 400 presentations, across America and in nine other countries. He is the author of four books on adult ADHD, including his most recent book, ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship which is the first to explore how ADHD impacts a couple’s sex life and relationship — and how to improve both.
Thanks for joining me!
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Penny Williams: Thanks for joining me on this next episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast. I'm thrilled today to be talking to Dr. Ari Tuckman and we are going to be talking about relationships, sex and teens with ADHD. That scary topic for parents that we tend to kind of want to bury our heads in the sand, which really is the worst thing that we could possibly do. So, I'm really excited to have this conversation with you, Dr. Tuckman and to really dive into how parents can talk to their teens, how they need to prepare them to be healthy and safe, and even emotionally healthy in these situations that start to come up and the teen years. Will you start by introducing yourself to everyone who's listening, who you are and what you do?
Ari Tuckman: Sure. So, I am a psychologist in private practice. I'm also, a certified sex therapist, which is a credential I added in the last few years. I've been specializing in ADHD for about 20 years now but have become increasingly interested in how it impacts relationships and how it impacts a couple's of sex life. And in that vein, I did a research project and then from that formed the foundation of a book that came out this summer called "ADHD After Dark, Better Sex, Life, Better Relationship." It's for couples where one partner has ADHD, and one partner doesn�t, and it helps them, as the title suggests, improve their sex life. And from that, it's really about improving your relationship overall. So, learning how to manage ADHD, learning how to negotiate, how to balance each person�s needs and how to bring your best to the relationship when ADHD is a part of the mix.
Penny Williams: Yeah, it's such a needed conversation that I think we tend to avoid. Again, just culturally. Let's dive into this conversation, with first, how do we talk to our kids about sex? We know that kids with ADHD tend to be more risky. They have a higher instance of teen pregnancy and STDs. And So, there's already this, I think, extra risk for our kids with ADHD. How do we start that conversation with them and, and maybe when, when do we even start talking about it?
Ari Tuckman: Right? Yeah. And you're right. Like, unfortunately this is kind of another place that ADA, she shows up. It's not just in math class. There also, shows up in terms of how our kids and teens handle themselves in friendships, how they handle themselves in romantic relationships and also, in terms of sexual encounters. So, as you said, unplanned pregnancies and , STDs or STIs as they're sometimes also, called that it's basically, I mean, just to be simplistic about, it's kind of impulsively acting in the moment not thinking through the consequences, not thinking about the future, just going with whatever's happening in the moment. But, some of it may also, be in a little bit of a more complex way for both girls and guys. Kind of a thing of like, I don't know, seeking some validation and being sexual with someone in a way that they might not otherwise want to do. Whether it's just about the attention from that person or whether it's something about kind of the, bigger bragging rights of I've been with this person or I've, I'm seen with this person or something. So, like that's not developmentally normal anyway as kids and teens try to figure that stuff out. But, some of our kids and teens are going to be more vulnerable to that than others and not, and again, not necessarily think through the consequences.
Penny Williams: Yeah. And I think there's also, times this extra component of feeling wanted and needed and seeking that sort of validation in that way.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. , because our kids and teens have ADHD, especially if it's undiagnosed or if it's not that well-managed, like they tend to get more negative interactions with other people, which is obviously parents and teachers cause they're not doing what they should be doing. Right. But, it's potentially also, from, from peers, particularly if you tend to be more hyperactive or impulsive. But even if you're just kind drifty and attentive, like , you get more negative comments, you're not doing this stuff that somebody is expecting you to do. , that may or may not be a valid expectation that somebody has a view but, but still like they're going to get more criticisms. So, that positive feedback, that positive attention, the interest that somebody else might show in you could feel, I mean it feels really good for all of us, but some of us might be more, I don�t know, more inclined to get caught up in it and to put other considerations aside.
Penny Williams: Yeah. Yeah. So, how do we start that conversation then with our teens? Are there some kind of warning flags or, some sort of identification markers that we can be looking for as parents to say, Oh, my child might be, or my teen might be heading in this direction now. It'd be a good time. Or do we start really early with planting these seeds?
Ari Tuckman: Yeah, absolutely. And that's what I was going to say is hopefully you're not starting these conversations when your kid is a teenager, because it, I won't say that it's too late, but there's sort of been a ton of water under the bridge by that point. So, these are preferably, these are conversations that begin when they're a kid on kind of broader topics of how do we treat other people? How do we let other people treat us? Let's talk about boundaries of touching people or not. Let's talk about respect and being respected. And, again, how do you treat other people? How do you let other people treat you? So, So, like really that's the foundation of where it began. But then there's also, the specific conversations about sex and it's kind of like that old thing like dogs smell fear.
Ari Tuckman: , I, I don't know if that's actually true, but, but , it's like, but when it comes to sex, like kids and teens smell weirdness like if you get weird when the topic of sex comes up, they are totally picking up on that and they're probably feeling a little bit weird about it already. So, it's kind of like if they're a little bit anxious and awkward and weird as the other adult, as the adult, they're like, you shouldn't be. And particularly � accurately or not � if they feel there's this negativity about it, that it's sexism, is anxiety provoking, it's risky, it's dangerous. And it's definitely not a thing that we talk about. They're not going to go to their parent when an issue comes up or when they have a question or So, So, I think the first step as in So, much else, So, parenting is about kind of managing our own internal reaction before we even think about what do we do on the outside.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. So, in that I don�t know like our, our culture in America is in, it's very sort of ambivalent about sex because on the one hand we really are kind of obsessed with it and it's like all over the place and , underwear model's selling whatever the hell they're selling. There's all of that and there's a bajillion porn sites and everything else and "50 shades of Gray" and whatever. And yet at the same time we're kind of judging and prudish about it also. And especially when it comes to the idea of teenagers having sex. On the one hand, yeah. Like we do want to protect kids from sexual predators, but I think at the same time, like there's this hysteria over it that I think is overblown and doesn't match the real risk of it. Which isn't to say that one incident is, isn't one to many because it is, but, but the problem is by being like crazy over the top over about something I think actually winds up making people less safe
Penny Williams: Rather than pushing them toward it. Yeah. When you tell a child this is bad, we prohibit you, over my dead body, are you going to do this? They're running right in that direction. They're going right down that path toward it because you said it was something terrible and they can't possibly.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. And basically, what you're saying is you cannot talk to me about this. Or as I sometimes use the phrase "punishing honesty." Like you cannot punish honesty and expect people to tell you things. So, it could be like there's some sort of vaguely sexual scene on TV or in a movie or something and as the parent you're like, okay, we're turning that off now. I will. I mean obviously it needs to be developmentally appropriate and obviously it depends on the kid's age and their maturity. And what they understand. So, like I'm not I don't want to go crazy about this, but, but if it's, if it's kind of developmentally appropriate, but it makes you a little bit uncomfortable and you immediately turn it off and make it clear, we're not discussing this your teen will not come to you when an issue comes up.
Ari Tuckman: Or if they float something like, they say " Oh, my friend, Jenny was making out with a boy." And you go, why is she doing? She just, she's too young for that. We do. How could she do that? What would her parents think? Or, you take some judging, negative, freaking out, kind of a response to it. You have just told your teen never talk to me about sex. Don't talk to me about your friends. Definitely don't talk to me about your own. Right. And that is such a missed opportunity, which it doesn't mean that you have to feel good about Jenny making out with some kid. And it doesn't mean that you're approving and saying, Oh, awesome man, way to go, Jenny, find some other boy to also, make out with.
Ari Tuckman: Right. But it's having the conversation, "well what do you think about that?�, and obviously your kid's got some issues. That's why she's bringing it up to you, or some concerns or something, like, "well how did Jenny feel about it afterwards?" Why do you think she did it and what do you think the boy was looking for there? "How do you think he feels?" to just have the conversation in that. If you can keep your head on in the beginning of the conversation, it may be that it takes you to a whole different place than what you were worried it was going to
Penny Williams: [Inaudible] I love that.
Ari Tuckman: Well,
Penny Williams: Patterns, that conversation with not putting our own opinion or judgment in there, but asking what they think and helping them to, I think work through that. Work through what they're feeling about it. But then we're also, leaving that door wide open for them to be safe to discuss these things, to feel okay discussing these things with us and getting them to really think them through. Like there's So, much goodness within just asking "how do you feel about that? "What do you think about that? Very key. I think piece of that information that you're giving for parents is, that's really how we open the door for our kids to talk to us about anything, want to know what they're thinking, what they're doing, what they're feeling. But we often start those conversations with our own stuff and lots of huge mistake.
Ari Tuckman: Well, and especially for a subject like sex, which is really potentially provocative in the sense that it's easy for it to provoke a strong reaction from you. But the problem is, especially if you've only gotten the very beginning, your kid from the backseat of the car says, "Oh, Jenny was making out with some boy in lunch." If you jump on that and throw your own take on it, you don't know where your kid is coming from. , you're assuming maybe, or you're just gut knee jerk reacting, but it's like you're shutting them down before anything is even happened. So, So, you want to know where your kid is coming from in it, but the bigger picture in this is that obviously, definitely parent's job is to set limits on their kids, to set boundaries, to monitor blog, whatever, whatever.
Ari Tuckman: I mean age appropriately. But you're not going to be with your kid at every moment. So, our job is not to say, I'm going to make sure you don't have sex before you're ready by locking you in the basement and never letting you out of the house right now, of course, but it's not, but it's not realistic. , nice people from the state are going to show up and knock on your door. So, what our job is, is to help, is to help our kids think through and think through these kinds of situations when they arise and to have some clarity about what their values are, what their preferences are, what they're interested in or not. What are the potential, benefits and risks associated with different options that they might choose? It's about giving them a decision-making process.
Ari Tuckman: And if all you do is say sex is bad, don't do it. They have no way of thinking through the nuances of what could happen. And that means that they're winging it in that heat of the moment where they have to depend on what their friends are saying. Who by the way don't know anything more than they do. Exactly. it's not simply like "sex is bad, you're 14 don't do it. "Right. But it's like, but it's like what are the nuances? What if someone you kind of like asks you out and you're really happy about it, but then, they want to take things further than, than you do. What if something is happening in public, like do we hold hands in public or do we not? What if you're at a party and someone starts trying to make out with you, you'll like them and you want things to happen, but is this the right setting for it?
Ari Tuckman: Or, what have other people said about this person? Like do they have good things to say or do they have bad things to say? Like at what point do you use other people's judgment to inform your own about someone this is a person with a bad track record. You may want to steer clear versus that whole giving into peer pressure. Like should you give in or should you not? , if your friends are saying you should totally hook up with that person, should you do it or should you not were friends are saying you shouldn't, don't do it. , like, So, these are the nuances and just saying sex is bad, don't do it. It misses all these other important conversations.
Penny Williams: Yeah. And I think our kids attached to the WHY when we're explaining this. "This is the reasonthat this isn't maybe the right decision for you right now" � we're leading them to making that decision. But in doing So, and talking about all those different nuances, we're also, explaining why, which I think helps them to really pull from that in the moment again to remember, Oh this may not be the right decision right now even though I'm in the thick of the beginning of it. I know my own So,n needs to know the reason for everything to the point of making me absolutelycrazy. But and he also, has autism. And I think that's a lot of those characteristics too. But I think there's So, many kids with ADHD that are literal thinkers and that really need that connection to a reaSo,n. And by having that conversation, the way you're describing and laying out and discussing all of these different nuances, we're kind of feeding all of that into their brain for them to draw on later and just looking for more likely to draw on that later when there's really very understandable reasons that they can pull from.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah, exactly. I mean, if you simply say don't do this, then they don't have anything to draw from. Whereas if you, if they understand the why, that is what enables them to generalize., mom and dad never spoke this scenario and yet here I am. So, like how do you handle that and how do you think it through and how do you act in a way that, that kind of matches up with your values, with how you see yourself with how you want to be seen by others.
Penny Williams: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, this is the real strategy to prepare our kids in the moment. That was Something that, a note that I had made that I wanted to discuss with you in this conversation. We've really come to it organically, but the strategy is to help them make a decision. I think that's really the key is that we've already talked about all of these different possibilities and what they should be considering and how they're thinking and feeling about these different scenarios So, that they're prepared in the moment. We're kind of pre preparing them.
Ari Tuckman: Right, exactly. And, there's Some people who had this kind of idea that if you talk about a subject, it gives them permission to do it. And , like on the one hand, I suppose I vaguely understand that line of thought, but at the same time like fear nod, you do not need to be the one to introduce the topic of sex to your teens. , like if you don't say anything about it, it's not like they're going to be unaware of it. , just as , same thing about like vaping or drinking or whatever like you, they will come to know about this subject way before you think they will and , you're not giving permission by having a conversation about it. So, these abstinence-only sex ed programs actually lead to more unplanned pregnancies and more sexually transmitted infections.
Ari Tuckman: Like they are not effective. So, speaking of it doesn't mean approval of it., it's So,rt of like, I don�t know, we can talk about murder as a thing and it doesn't mean that we're like pro murder? So, to be able to talk about it, to accept the fact that your kids will probably do Some things that you wish they didn�t, but, but that doesn't, that's not limited to sex. That applies to like all Sorts of stuff. So, to be able to talk about it, to know where to set the boundaries and where to give your kids Some freedom in that if you're too tight on the boundaries, then it just becomes like they just find Some other place or , when they finally leave the home, they then kind of overdo it because now they finally have the opportunity to do So,.
Penny Williams: Right. And I think that's really key., So, many times parents choose to avoid Something. It's too uncomfortable. The thought of maybe it happening is too painful. But then we're not preparing our kids and we're also, sending that message about it. If you don't talk about sex or if you have, like you were saying that abstinence only perspective, then you are attaching all of these judgments and emotions to it for your child. Whether you're trying to or not, whether that was your intention or not, it's going to happen, I think.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah, I think it absolutely is. Silence speaks volumes and they will make assumptions about why you are being silent. That may or may not match up with the reasons why. It's a thing of being able to have the conversations about sex and about what's just say relationships more broadly So, that your kids can make good informed decisions. I mean, kids with ADHD are still going to be impulsive and they're still going to do Some things that you kind of, that they will then regret afterwards. But we want to reduce the extent to which that happens. So, this is kind of another good reasonfor our kids with ADHD to take medication on the weekends too, if they're driving, especially to make sure that their medication is active in the evening as well. And not just for the school day, this is about more than just paying attention in math class.
Penny Williams: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I think it helps them to focus on decision making, problem So,lving whereas without many people will just act on instinct almost. There won't be any thought to it, which is the definition of impulsivity. It's just happening before you think about it. How do we keep our kids safe then? So, we're talking about teenagers having sex, unwanted pregnancy, STDs or STIs. I remember a time when I was in college, I actually had an internship at the local AIDS nonprofit clinic in the early nineties or mid-nineties. And there was this big clash between these two schools of thought about providing protection to kids. At the AIDS network, anybody could come could get condoms and information on safe sex. And there was a whole population of people who felt like that was giving permission to engage in risky behavior or for teen sex or sex out of wedlock, all of these things. So, as a parent with a kid who probably is engaging in more risky behavior than a neurotypical kid, where do we land in that to ultimately make sure that they're safe?
Ari Tuckman: Right, right. I think it begins by eliminating the fallacy that kids need permission from the adults around them to have sex. It's crazy. They will have sex regardless of whether you tell them they should or shouldn't. So, this idea that providing condoms is So,mehow condoning it is not true. It's not simply, "here's a box of condoms, good luck." But it but it's part of a more comprehensive package of let's talk about it. , let's, let's talk about what it means to be sexual. Let's talk about how do we treat other people and how do we let other people treat us? Let's talk about what are the unintended consequences that even with condoms, things happen. , nothing is 100% perfect. And yet
Penny Williams: So, for that conversation. Really. Yeah.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. And that it's normal to have sexual desire. Like that is a normal thing. The species would die out without it. But just because you have a desire doesn't mean that you act on it. I mean, I've had desire to move to Jamaica now that it's Coleman snowing, right. But but I'm not pricing real estate So, like I've lots of desires but everyone acts on most of them. So, normalizing the desire and yet holding a line on what they do, which is exactly the same when your kids are younger. I understand you're angry, but you still don't hate your little brother. Right. We can split the difference on that. So, or we can feel it and yet not act on it. So, So, the, the conversation about here or condoms is part of a larger conversation.
Penny Williams: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's a really valid point that I want parents to hear that by providing the tools to be safe, if they're choosing to go down that path, we are opening the door for that conversation about whether or not it's the right choice for them. And again, where we're asking their thoughts and feelings instead of putting our thoughts and feelings on them in those conversations, which I think is just So, key
Ari Tuckman: Or at least beginning with what are their thoughts and feelings? So, yeah,
Penny Williams: Obviously we have to add our guidance on it, but not just closing the door right away. Not saying sex is bad when you're a teenager, you can't do this. Your life will be over whatever. We fall into that trap. His parents have over stating things and overstating risk and consequences Sometimes when we feel really strongly about how our kids are going to act.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. And the problem of overstating is if your kids figure it out accurately or not, but figure out that really the consequences are not as bad, then they kind of disregard all of the rest of what you're saying. So, they've shut down because you've shut them down. Yeah. Yeah. So, now within all this, again, there's definitely a place for limits and barriers. So, like, if you're a 15 year old who wants to go over to their boyfriend or girlfriend's house or maybe a kid that are hot on, when their parents are not going to be there, that might be a thing where you're like "yeah, I don't think we're going to do that." Right, like "I didn�t really love that idea." So, So, it doesn't mean that you don't put limits cause absolutely you do.
Ari Tuckman: And often kids with ADHD need more limits, more oversight than kids without ADHD. So, like absolutely. I don't want to make this out. Like you give your kids free reign because definitely that's not the case. But it's part of kind of that bigger package of setting limits and boundaries, helping them understand why you are, even though they're not going to be happy with it often. But then also, giving them a decision-making framework for those moments where they're not under your eyesight and within your limits. Right.
Penny Williams: Yeah. That framework. I like that you use that word that's really valuable., because I, I talk a lot with parents or kids with ADHD about the scaffolding type of support that we won't, don't want to do for our kids. And we don't want to make decisions for our kids. We want to teach our kids to make good decisions for themselves. And Sometimes that process is not innate for our kids. And So, when we talk about things or when we even kind of talk our own thought processes out loud for our kids to show how we do it we're laying that framework, we're offering them that framework that they take with them. So, I think that's So, key.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah, exactly. I mean, that is what parenting is it's really, as for everybody, but Somebody with kids with ADHD, yeah. It's about keeping our kids safe until they reach adulthood. So, not allowing the world to kill them or them, they kill themselves off in the process. And instilling a good decision making and good,
Penny Williams: , values and everything else. So, So, it's both, it's setting the limits and also, giving them the right amount of freedom. Like which means the amount that they can handle. Well. Right. Yeah. That's So, good. Let's shift just for a minute at the end of our conversation here to talk about the nuances of relationships. And So, many of our kids with ADHD have big emotions. They get really attached. There's the idea of rejection sensitive dysphoria and feeling those things that happen in relationships so much bigger or taking them so much more personally. And I wanted to talk just a minute about kind of helping our kids through Some of that to identify the emotions but to help them maybe Sort of reign them. And like my young son, he had his first girlfriend (they call it girlfriend, it wasn't really, they saw each other at school and said, "Hey, we're together."
Penny Williams: And like ninth grade. And he was So, broken for a while when it didn't work out and he translated that into, I'm never going to have anyone, I'm going to be alone forever. And even now at 17, he still says that that nobody wants him, nobody wants to be with him. He had somewhere gotten this idea that your first relationship is for life. And it's been really challenging to help him see that most people go through a lot of relationships in order to find that that person, you're a person that you really meld with that you can spend your life with are a ton of your time with. So, I wanted to get your input on that. Like, how do we balance those big emotions that already come with relationships with that extra sensitivity that a lot of our kids have?
Penny Williams: Right? Yeah. I mean that's one of those things just Sort of challenge however gently or directly this idea that the first one is the one. Right. And , So, wherever it is that he got that idea to really start to challenge that and , to frame it as, what, most people have a bunch of relationships before they get married because the way you figure out who you want to be with and who's going to want to be with you and how to do relationships well is by having a bunch of them beforehand as Some of them are going to be totally flying nothing. And Some of them are going to be more serious than others. And, it's like anything else, we figure it out from experience. But, this could also, be a place where you can kind of call back to things
Ari Tuckman: That happened in friendships. So, "who are your best friends now?" Well, okay, you didn't know her in first grade. So, like by your reasoning, I guess you should only be friends or the people that you knew in first grade. Right., Something like that and Sort of call back and to say, what? Sometimes friendships. And remember when with Pat, like he stopped coming around, you guys were in friends view change classes or removed or whatever and like that that was really hard and that sucked. Life goes on. Like you have other friends now and So, does he like this is this stuff that happens in life.
Penny Williams: Yeah. Yeah. And So, many conversations we, we all have multiple relationships or most of us before we find that person. I think under the weight of feeling kind of rejected, that's hard for them to process. But I think just showing empathy and this is something I talk about So, much with the parents that I work with as showing empathy alone in any situation is monumentally helpful. It just changes the dynamic completely. And we're saying how you're feeling is appropriate and other people feel it too. And yes, it's hard and it hurts, but you're not the only one. Cause I think So, much of the time our kids feel like they're the only ones who have these particular different struggles. And a lot of it really is just childhood or the teen years, adolescence. So, just reminding them that their feelings are valid and yes, this this hurts and it's unfortunate, but it is also, part of life. It's part of the process of getting to that relationship that's really a value add for your life.
Ari Tuckman: Right. Yeah. And that like anything, there's no benefits gained without also, Some risk? Yeah. And they said it may be if they dated Someone for two weeks and then they broke up for you might be like, why? Like seriously you're upset about that. But, for him or her, this might be the end of the world and at least the moment. So, So, like you're said, and to empathically acknowledge that like, yes, this, this is hard. And also, I hate to say it, you will get hurt again, that is the truth of it. And yet it's good enough when it's good that we keep coming back like this is what we do. But the thing to do is to learn from it. Like what, how are you smarter and wiser now afterwards having suffered compared to where you were beforehand because otherwise, you're just suffering for nothing and that kind of sucks to suffer with no benefit from it. So, the key to relationships is to get better at them. So, what lessons are you learning from it?
Penny Williams: Yeah, such valuable information and we have crammed So, much into this episode, which I'm So, happy about because this is something that I just don't feel like it's talked about enough in parenting circles. And even ADHD, even when we're talking about a population and adolescents, that's more at risk and we're still not really talking about it that much and it's, it's just So, needed. And I So, appreciate you sharing your time and your wisdom on this topic and, and that we can really share it with this audience who I know is going to benefit even parents of younger kids who are listening are going to start to think about this earlier. , we do tend to wait until adolescence before we think about sex and our kids. And that's a big mistake. We need to be talking about relationships and stuff long before that. So, So, valuable, So, valuable. Anything else that you wanted to be sure to add before we close?
Ari Tuckman: Yeah, let me, let's add on this. We'll sort of, if we haven't scared everybody off yet, we'll, we'll scare them away with the last one. So, let's just briefly touch on the topic of porn. Here's the thing, I don't advocate teenagers watching porn, but I also, don't advocate teenagers vaping and driving too fast and cheating on math tests and yet, this is a thing that happens. So, here's the thing. If, if you don't talk to your kids about sex or if somebody isn't talking to your kids about sex, they will learn about sex from their phones. And, porn is the biggest sex ed teacher in our country at this time, which is sort of like learning how to drive by watching the fast and the furious porn is not real life.
Ari Tuckman: Like it isn't, there is So, many things that porn teaches that is not what real life looks like. And there's lots of stuff that doesn't get taught in porn that should be, So, basically everything that we've just been talking about. So, porn is media in the same way that everything else is media. And, most of it's junk. Most of it is about lowest common denominator or search terms or hits or whatever. But which isn't to say that there isn't a place in the world for porn. I'm not going to say that you should or shouldn't watch it as an adult, but, but if can't have a conversation with your teen and possibly even kid about, about porn they're just going to find it on their own and then make up their own decisions about what it does or doesn't mean.
Ari Tuckman: So, So, you don't want to shame your kids about it. You don't want to freak out or yell at them or ground them. Now certainly you may say, okay, what, I think I need to put some restrictions, or I need to monitor more what you're doing, like absolutely. Sure. But it again, it's that sort of acknowledging like it is okay to be curious about this. It's okay to be interested in this stuff and yet it doesn't mean that you need to actually watch it. And, we should probably relate it to this. Talk about like sex thing taking pictures, sending pictures, asking for pictures, sending a picture from somebody else or forwarding on pictures. , although some of the laws are changing a little bit on this, like God help you if you get caught up in some of that stuff, especially if you're sending somebody else's picture.
Ari Tuckman: It's one thing to be taking picture of yourself and send it. But if you forward that on to somebody else or show it to Someone else and then it's part of that broader Social media conversation of once he gets put in writing, it's there forever. You can't control who else sees in blah, blah, blah. Right? So, like, this is all part of much larger conversations, but it's kind of helping our kids understand how this stuff all works and to not in a bit of a kind of short sighted, unaware, blind to kind of a way just like do something that then later they regret. And that to really sort of convey the idea that what is shown in porn is not what real sex looks like. It's not what real bodies look like. It's not what most people do. I mean, some people do it but, mostly, that's not really what people are doing in real life. So, do not model anything on porn. And again, like you use fast and furious as an example. It's like you don't watch fascinated purists. They figure out how to get through traffic jams or something. So, it's just, it's not real life. It's not reality.
Penny Williams: Yeah. And it this is a problem for a great deal of the ADHD population. And we I personally have been through this too. There was a day where I went, wow, that's not what he should be watching. And completely naive really about what was available online and what my child could get ahold of. And I admit I had no parental controls in place because my Son and interactions with me seemed to really not go there. And it was just that he wasn't talking about it with me. , I was just, I really did have my head in the sand on this stuff and it was a big wakeup call as to what he's seeing, what he's even maybe interested in at that point. , what he's already thinking about and, and how to protect him.
Penny Williams: And we've also, had that conversation about photographs and, if somebody is texting you a racy photograph, you can't share it, but you also, can't reciprocate because there could be humongous legal criminal consequences to that at certain ages. If it's found, if it's brought to light. And So, that's been conversations that I never imagined I would be having, but I should have known that I needed to I feel like that was a big aha for me, that there's So, much more out there now than when we were, kids are So, much more access to things that we just didn't necessarily in our generation have to think So, much about. And now as parents, we're parenting in this whole different world that our kids are really growing up with and we really need to be aware and we really need to be okay with having those conversations was starting those conversations earlier So, that they have more of a healthy take on it, like you said.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. Yeah. Because, I mean, the thing is, even if your son isn't there yet, like he wouldn't have his own volition, seek something like that out. It doesn't mean that he doesn't have some friend who forwards him something. Right, cause that friend is kind of there or that friend has an older sibling who increases the friend�s level of exposure and maybe maturity. So, So, yeah, like that stuff will come to them whether they seek it out or not. So, So, you need to kind of get in front of it. But by having these conversations, you show your kid that you're an askable adult. I'm just kind of stealing that phrase from somebody else, but that you're asking about like, So, when they do someone sends them some like crazy, ridiculous picture screenshot it off the internet somewhere that they can bring it to you and say like, what the hell is going on here?
Ari Tuckman: Like, what is up with this? Because it can be scary and traumatic and, and whatever. And, like you want your kid to be able to bring that to you and not to get some crazy idea like, Oh, I guess that's, I guess that's what's expected of me. Or I guess that's what everybody else is doing. Like that, that old fallacy of like, yeah, no, seriously, like most people are not in of those who are probably, most of them aren't actually that into it themselves. They just feel like they need to. So, don't buy into this 'everybody's doing it� myth. So, So, yeah, it's like having those conversations and showing that you're asking.
Penny Williams: Yeah. I'm So, glad you brought that up before we close because that really is a concern for So, many parents. And I see it more and more in Facebook groups and forums on ADHD and parenting parents, finding out that their child was watching or looking at porn and they're just mortified because that's kind of the way we were taught to be in our generation. And it's just changed, and we have to change with it, and we have to be open to having those discussions. We just can't avoid hard topics with our kids because we're, we're sending them a message by doing that. And it's the message that we don't want to give them. Right? Yeah.
Ari Tuckman: Yeah. You want to have some input on these things and if you're remained silent, you abdicate your opportunity.
Penny Williams: Yeah. So, important. Thank you So, much for being here on this episode, Dr. Tuckman. I want everybody to know that Dr. Tuchman has offered a free sample chapter of his new book for everyone listening that will be available to you in the show notes along with a link to the book to purchase and website and any other information to help you connect with Dr. Tuchman and his work in ADHD and in relationships and sex as well. And you can find those show notes at parenting, ADHD and autism.com/zero seven six for episode 76. And with that, we'll close this episode. Thanks again.
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