Shame, Taboos, and Trauma: Talking to your Kids about their Bodies, Intimacy, and Porn with guest Clint Davis, MS, LPC
About this Episode
On this episode of the Brainy Moms parenting podcast, Dr. Amy and Teri welcome the return of trauma therapist Clint Davis to the show to share his insights about an uncomfortable topic: protecting your kids from sexual abuse and trauma. Beyond just recommending parental-control apps, Clint delves into the psychology behind age-appropriate curiosity, the impact of pornography on both children and adults, and the importance of creating a safe space for communication without shame. This is an episode that every parent needs to hear.
About Clint Davis
Clint Davis, MS, LPC is an Army Veteran with a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Louisiana Tech University and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister and Licensed Professional Counselor trained in EMDR for trauma, Restoration Therapy for couples and families, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), and is a certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT). He’s married to his wife Jacie and they have two sons, Grady and Jude. He’s also a TEDx speaker and the host of his own podcast, Asking Why with Clint Davis.
Connect with Clint
Watch his TEDx talk:
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Read the transcript for this episode:
Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms brought to you today by LearningRx brain training centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore, here with my co-host Teri Miller, coming to you today from a sunny, but very cold November Colorado Springs day. We are super excited to welcome back our guest, from Louisiana, therapist Clint Davis. Clint is an Army veteran, an ordained minister, a licensed counselor, and he is trained and specializes in trauma and addiction. And so Clint runs an integrative wellness practice where he integrates psychology with faith to help people heal from wounds of the past. We talked last season about the dangers of social media and technology for our kids. And so he is back with us today to continue that conversation and also to talk about some helpful parenting strategies. We are so happy that you have come back to share your wisdom with us some more, Clint.
Teri Miller: Yes. Welcome.
Clint Davis: Glad to be. Thanks for having me back on.
Teri Miller: Well, hey, we start off our shows every time with our guests giving a little bit of information about themselves. So if we have avid listeners, they already heard you, but for those who have not heard your story, tell us a little bit about how you came to where you are today in this specialty.
Clint Davis: Yeah, so, I don’t even remember what I said last time because part of, you know, it feels like part of your story is it changes every year. And what parts, you know, God is focusing on for me or what I’m bringing up. But I think what I would say is, I think I was always a kid who—I’m a child of divorce, so my parents divorced when I was eight and I always was trying to be the good kid and play the whole “let’s not make mom and dad fight.” I was the oldest. And so I think what I’ve learned through therapy and a lot is like yes, part of that was who I am, and then part of that was what I adapted to survive. And so, but I always kind of fought that. But in high school and in grad school or in the military, people would come to me for advice. And I was one of the only like faith-following Christians and at the time, and people would come to me to ask me stuff about relationships. And so eventually counseling just became a thing where it’s like, well, this is what I feel like I’m called to and what I’m good at. What I didn’t realize was that was a lot of how I got my worth and value and how I found security and being helpful and, you know, and being needed. And so, you know, I went to, I joined the military when I was 17 cause my parents really couldn’t afford anything else and I didn’t really make good grades. Then I had 9/11 happen and then I went to Afghanistan and then Superdome for Hurricane Katrina. So I had a lot of PTSD and trauma and porn and drugs and alcohol and all kinds of things to cope with that in my early twenties. And the whole time God was kind of chasing, you know, pushing me and asking me to let go of some of those things and heal. And so I started therapy and that was the first time where I was like, oh, this is really what changed things—was a Christian counselor to meet with me and talk with me and, and not beat me with the Bible and not judge me, but really help me start to make sense of these things. And it was then that because of trauma, I got very passionate about, well, we don’t talk about this in the church, we don’t talk about this, like a lot of therapists don’t talk about trauma. So I started kind of studying and researching and ended up going to Fuller to get my master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Came back to Louisiana and really started pushing trauma around my peers and around our, you know, even judiciary committees. And then I started with a nonprofit called The Hub Urban Ministry, and we started helping people in poverty and human trafficking. And then I got my certification in sex addiction because porn had always been a thing that, you know, I talked about and struggled with. And so out of that, I know this is long-winded, but out of that, what happened was, is that I started to see clients, who were confessing to this idea of sexual trauma, sexual abuse, exposure to pornography early, a lack of just education, and that became something that was just unique because it was my experience as well. And then it seemed like eight out of the 10 clients that I was seeing, even if they didn’t come in to work on anything sexual, that that was coming up for them that to get back to, well, when I was four, this happened when I was seven, this happened. And then in the middle of all that, the cell phone comes out and I feel like, you know, we’re only 10 years into that—ish—and it’s just imploded all mental health, you know, all those things. And so I find myself in this unique place of, you know, I don’t want to go around and talk about this stuff, like we did last time. I do, but I don’t, you know. I’d much rather like just talk about marriage or coping or whatever, but it seems like this niche of like protection and prevention or recovery has become a passion of mine. And, and I’m biased. I have two boys, Grady and Jude, they’re five and eight and when they’re 15 and 20, you know, I want them to look at me and, and I want to be able to say, “Yeah, I knew and I did something as much as I could do about it.” I don’t wanna look at them and say, “Well, I knew and I knew the stats and I kind of saw it, but I was too nervous or too scared, or I just wanted to do the simple thing” and they’re looking at me like, you could have done something and you didn’t. And so that’s been kind of my, whatever version of that story it is.
Amy Moore: Yeah. Yeah. So for our new listeners and those who didn’t get to hear our conversation a year and a half ago, can we revisit the dangers of technology for kids and families? I really want to talk about that.
Clint Davis: Yeah. So, you know, one thing that I wanna say and thanks to Amy and some connections, you know, I’m getting to do a TED Talk on this in January, which is, you know, so crazy. If you would’ve told me I was doing a TED talk three years ago, I’d have, you know, lost my mind.
Amy Moore: No, you’re gonna be amazing. You’re gonna be amazing.
Clint Davis: Thank you. I mean, appreciate it.
Amy Moore: Then they asked us, because listeners, I did a TED Talk last year and so those organizers said, “Hey, do you guys know anyone who would be great?” And I said, “Yes! Clint Davis.”
Clint Davis: Yeah. Well thank you so much. I’m nervous about it ‘cause it’s like organized instead of me just doing this ‘cause I love this, but having to like memorize the same thing makes me nervous. But anyway. So, you know, even in the last year since we’ve had it, I’ve been thinking a lot about, like, we talked about last time, but I’ll say it again. So the ACES score, Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale—and those of us who are clinical therapists or trauma, you know, psychologists or whatever, we know about the ACEs study and we know adverse childhood experiences. And, and I just, I’ve been looking at that study and what’s not on there is what I call sexual neglect. So there’s emotional neglect, there’s physical neglect, there’s sexual abuse, physical abuse, but there’s not this idea. And so, when we think about teenagers with phones and teenagers with devices and teenagers with, going into puberty and, you know, dating and all these things, and we wanna save them from all the trauma of that, I think the prerequisite of that is not neglecting them. And I don’t mean, you know, sexual neglect as adults, it’s like, I’m not getting enough sex. What I mean is, is that as children, we’re not informing them properly about a few things. Body safety, who can touch them, who can’t, what are their proper terms for their body parts, consent. And then how to manage devices as they grow. Where good pictures come from, where bad pictures come from, which is a great book. That their bodies are good and their private parts are good, but they’re not for everybody to see and, just these boundaries. And so what I find is that when I go to speaking engagements, and spoiler, I think I’m gonna do this on the TED Talk, but you know, I always look at the crowd and I say, “Okay, I want you to be brave. Raise your hand if your parents talked to you about masturbation, menstruation, called your penis a penis and your vagina a vagina. And no one raises their hand. And it’ll be a dead silent. And I’ll say, “Okay, I’m challenging you. There’s 500 of us in this room. I see two hands up.” And I’ll say, “Look around. That means that all of us, including me, because I didn’t raise my hand, were neglected.” And I used the example last time of, you know, a kid crossing the street. If you let your 3-year-old outside of your house and you didn’t teach them how to hold your hand and look both ways across the street, they’re gonna get hit by a car. And we live in like a crazy generation where those of us our age, and below, especially because older didn’t even have phones, didn’t have any opportunity for it. We were neglected so much that we didn’t even realize that an erection was gonna happen or that we were gonna have our first period, or that these things, you know. So boys and girls were having these private experiences of normal, healthy development happening and they immediately feel shame. Because they feel alone and they don’t know if they should like this or they shouldn’t, or if this is normal or if they should, you know, they’re at a swim party and they start, bleeding and then some—they’re embarrassed and people laugh and then, you know, they don’t even know they need a tampon or a, you know, a pad or whatever. And I hear these stories over and over and over and nobody’s saying, “Hey, that’s traumatic. That changes your brain, that changes your heart, that changes your identity sexually, and that happened to you when you were 4 or 5 or 9 or 10. And again, it’s not, you know—it’s scaffolding. Of course, you do this age appropriately. You do this based on the kid. You don’t start talking to your 3-year-old about masturbation or sex, but you do start talking to them and making these conversations less taboo. So by the time they’re emotionally and sexually developed, you can have a conversation about masturbation and it’s normal because you’ve called it a penis. You’ve talked about what to do with that. You’ve talked about the birds and the bees, you know, and called it sex and not called it “the birds and the bees.” I mean, that’s another thing, right? I mean, we do things like that we call private parts “wee wees” and “nu nus” and “cookies” and we say “the birds and the bees.” And what that does is it makes it so taboo and so weird and that actually makes it worse. Instead of just making it normal and comfortable. So anyway, that’s kind of what we talked about I think, a little bit last time. And then that leads into, if we haven’t done any of that, there are tons of resources now. I’m gonna put some stuff out in the new year for parents to kind of have a guide to walk through some of that stuff, from a Christian perspective at least. Because I think that’s the thing. We have these two, two divides. We have, you know, for me, a faith-based walk that we try to figure this stuff out and then a secular walk and everybody’s trying to figure it out and there’s good resources on both sides, so it’s like, let’s team up and just protect kids. Let’s not make it a religious thing or a non-religious thing. Anyway, but that leads into the technology part and what the stats are. Since 2010, 200% more children are self-harming and 176% more children are suicidal. There’s been a 20% increase in anxiety disorders and a 20% increase in depression in 17- to 22-year-old kids that are going to college. And that that all correlates with the cell phone, social media, and their full access to these things. And so, we’ve gotta pay attention to this last seven or eight years and what’s happened in our society that there’s a huge impact. And so, my stance is that the way that not only just what they’re being exposed to, but the way they’re learning—we were talking about, you know, people paying attention and the TED talks have to be less than 10 minutes cause people aren’t gonna listen to it if it’s 10 or more. Right? So our ability to pay attention is shortened. So I’m gonna shut up and then—unless you ask me any more questions about that specifically.
Teri Miller: I just think everything you said is so important and it’s hard to hear as a parent because I mean, I’ve got 20 something kids all the way, you know, to a 28-year-old all the way down to a 10-year-old, and it’s so hard to think of the ways that I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I messed up. And I think probably a lot of listeners are feeling that way too. And so I would love to, Amy, if you’re okay with it, to kind of jump into, “What do we do? How can we help when things have already happened?” When our kids have already been exposed to things we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t protect them adequately. Maybe we didn’t let them run out in the street, but dang, they got pretty close. So I’m gonna be super vulnerable and share that this happened in my family. With my kid. And it wasn’t that my little girl had a phone or a tablet or any access to something that we had given her. We have kind of these protective rules and guidelines that devices aren’t allowed in the bedrooms. You don’t—you’re never anywhere with a device with the door closed, you know, so that, you know, even if a kiddo is like, “It’s noisy. I’m gonna do my homework in my room.” Well the door’s open, you know, we’ve done things like that. But my little girl found an old phone in a drawer that was not, didn’t have cell phone access. It was just an old one that we hadn’t recycled or gotten rid of, and she was savvy enough at 10 years old to plug it in and charge it. And she snuck it into her room. She knew that she wasn’t supposed to, but she had it in her bedroom and after bedtime, after the, “Night night, Honey. I love you” and the bedtime prayers, she was pulling that phone out from under her mattress and getting into some things. It started out really, really simple. It started out searching Elsa and Anna videos. Now, she wasn’t supposed to be on the phone after bedtime on anything, any device. She didn’t even have the phone. So that was a problem in itself. But she began searching. We found later in the history, she began by searching Elsa and Anna videos and somehow within that process, something popped up, a popup or whatever happened for her, and it was the words “Elsa and Anna naked.” Little girl … I’m just gonna cry about it all over again. Sorry. Big silence is in this podcast, but it is devastating, devastating to find out that you’re sweet little 10-yea- old girl, for several nights, had been following strings of popups into worse and worse and worse things. She ventured out into dangerous territory. She didn’t do it on purpose, but it drew her attention. And then we had to had to figure out, what do we do? How do we help? When once we found out, and Clint, you were an amazing resource, and nd I would love for you to share with parents if this has happened to anybody else, if it’s been your little one or your teenager, and you’ve discovered that they have ventured into things that, like you said, have harmed their brains. What can we do?
Amy Moore: And you’re like, you’re talking about pornography, right, Teri? I mean, like, let’s name it.
Teri Miller: I am. I am, it was devastating.
Clint Davis: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and I wanna make sure people understand, me and you had this conversation. We talked.
Teri Miller: We did.
Clint Davis: We got to spend some time on the phone. So, you know, I empathize with you still, you know. I’m sorry it happened. I hate that. You know, I think about that in my own kids and it’s such a reminder. My main goal is for us not to feel shame. You know, we were talking about that earlier, me and my wife yesterday about, you know, just how easy it is for something to pop up or happen. Or, you know, you have an iPad that doesn’t have something locked down and you leave it in the kitchen and nobody can reach it. And somehow they’ve climbed up and grabbed it and they hit the wrong button. And any of us can do it can be susceptible to it. And my main thing is, one, yes, of course we wanna prevent it totally, if possible. But the more important thing is to be educated and equipped so when it happens, you know how to immediately deal with it and not only immediately deal with it, but that maybe even your kid will come and talk to you. Right? And so if you have a relationship with a 10-year-old, that you always talk and you’re always open and you don’t shame. And you know, for us, we have a ‘no-secrets policy,’ so we never use the word “secret” between each other. My spouse and I and my wife, and between our kids and, and so, you know, I’ll say it’s better for you to tell me the truth now and you’re not gonna get in trouble for, but if you lie, then it’s gonna cause more problems.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: And so we, you know, we have that so that they’ll come to us. So that’s one—is have a relationship where there’s a bridge where they’ll bring you this stuff if it happens. Because here’s the deal, at some point they’re gonna hate it, right? They’re not gonna like it, it’s not gonna make them feel good. And so they’re gonna come to the people who they’re safe with and go, “Hey, I don’t want to do this.” Or, “I saw this.” It may be six months ago, unfortunately. But if you have that relationship, at some point it’s gonna come out. And so when it comes out, when you catch them, when you see them … we don’t wanna shame them.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: We don’t want to say, “How could you do that?” We know exactly how they could do that. They’re human beings. They make errors and sometimes we are mad at ourselves because we didn’t do the right, you know, we didn’t do the thing that we would’ve liked to do. We didn’t “protect” them, quote unquote. And so we’re just mad that it happened.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: But we wanna sit with them and we wanna hold them and we wanna let them know it’s okay and that we love them and that they’re worth in value is not lost because they saw these things and did these things.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: We wanna make sure that immediately we say that those images are not how sex is designed, that that’s not how it’s supposed to do. They’re distortion. But you having a response and liking it a little bit or being enticed by it, is totally normal. And for me, I always say it’s God-given. It’s a God-given desire that you should have, but you’re not ready for that. You’re a child. You’re too young for those things. And if they’re a teenager, you’re ready for those things biologically, but emotionally, you’re not ready for those things. Just like with a lot of things. So you can try to make it even less taboo where you say, um, you know, just like with driving or just like with, you know, whatever other thing that’s mature that they need to have, they’re not gonna be ready for that yet. They might feel like they’re ready for it, but they’re not. So those would be my initial things would be the lower the shame. You know, same thing if we’re talking about masturbation. If you walk in or have a little girl or a little boy who, earlier than you would expect, you find masturbating, don’t walk in and stop them and shame them. Don’t tell them not to do that. Talk to them about that. Make it appropriate and then tell them how to do it appropriately or how your family views that and what they should do. The third— I don’t know what number I’m on, but the other thing would be, like you guys did, you call someone immediately and you say, “Hey, help us. We need to process. We need to vent. I need to say all the things I want to say so I can go back in here tomorrow and talk to my son or daughter in an appropriate way without letting all my stuff and all my shame and all my anger bleed over into them.” Cause it’s not their fault. You know, these things—that’s what I try to explain to people. Your 8-year-old, you know, the average viewing of pornography in America is 8 to 11 years old. So that’s the average. 82% of parents have no rules for devices. So that’s how it happens is there’s no rules. There’s no expectation, and there’s no thought that they would even do it. And guess what? They’re probably not going to. They’re probably gonna look for Disney or Elsa and Anna. But these pornography sites and creators are literally creating websites and Instagram profiles that trick them into clicking and following that then send it into their home, into their device. It’s not that they’re out looking for it, and some may, but if they’re—if they’re before puberty, they don’t have the biology to want to see those things to, to be aroused in that way.
And so if they’re being exposed to it, it’s because someone’s exposing them.
Teri Miller: Right.
Clint Davis: And so if we as parents, you know, we slip up and there’s a phone somewhere. We have phones in our house and you know, it’s like, “Man, we gotta put those up! You know, we gotta lock ’em away, we gotta throw ’em away.” And so many of us are like, oh, nobody’s ever gonna use this. They will, they’ll go get a charger, they’ll charge it, and they’ll just to do something innocent, like play a game or do something silly or take pictures.
Teri Miller: Right.
Clint Davis: And they won’t even think they’re breaking a rule. Right? They’ll just be like, “Oh, I just wanted to take some pictures innocently,” and then down the rabbit hole they go.
Teri Miller: Right.
Clint Davis: We have to be, unfortunately our window for—or our margin for error is so small in 2022.
Teri Miller: I appreciated, you know, when this happened, we reached out to you and then another gal, a friend that specializes in trauma therapy, therapy for kids with foster and adopt adopted kids and in foster situations because this happened with my youngest who is adopted and she spent four and a half years in extreme neglect and abuse, and we don’t know what all she was exposed to, but we know she had a lot of therapy for extreme trauma. Immediately when she joined our family, there were signs and symptoms that were so heartbreaking, so devastating. And what I heard from my other friend is that it’s super, super common for kids that have come from trauma and neglect to—even if they didn’t, she didn’t do it on purpose—to be drawn into it, you know, there’s attachment issues. And so that trust, you know, “Oh, is she gonna come to us when she’s scared about something?” No, she’s just scared and she’s gonna hide it. And she doesn’t, she’s still, she trusts a little more every day, you know, but it’s hard. And that—it was good to know that, okay, that happens and that is a trauma we’ve gotta work through. But you, she—you said this and she said this, to treat this as something that happened to her. Instead of—and only by the grace of God did—only by the grace of God, my husband and I responded instantly by loving on her and saying, “Baby girl, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Did that feel scary? Was that upsetting? I love you. You’re not in trouble.” We held her. She was so ashamed. She cried. She would not look at us.
Clint Davis: Oh, yeah.
Teri Miller: Buried her face in her hands, you know, just had her hands covering her eyes would not remove them. It was devastating to her, but we were able to—and you emphasized that this happened to her, this bad, ugly thing that was out there happened to her. She was not the bad, ugly thing.
Clint Davis: Mm-hmm.
Teri Miller: So talk more about that, that parents—you’re dealing with a teenager instead.
Clint Davis: You nailed it. Yeah, I think so many of us, as parents, we project our own unresolved parenting trauma under our kids. And we need affirmation and we need worth, and we need stability, and we need them to be okay so we’re okay. Because we didn’t have a—we don’t have a stable identity. And I can say that for me, I mean, and even in the last five years, going to therapy and being like, “Golly! I cannot tell my kids no to go jump on the trampoline.” Like, I don’t want them to see me tired or I don’t want them—I’m gonna always show up for everything. And my therapist is like, “You can’t. Like, your kids need to see that you’re not a robot, that you can say, ‘Hey, I love you. I just played with you for nine hours, you know, straight so I can’t play a 10,’ you know, or whatever.” Because, and so, yeah, they have to understand that they have to understand as parents that we do a lot of projecting onto our kids and making their issues about us, whether it’s this topic or any other. And so we need to make sure that we are, our sexual identity is healthy, our view of pornography, our experiences, then that’s what I talk about. We have two options. We have prevention and then we have recovery.
Teri Miller: Mm-hmm.
Clint Davis: So if we’re a parent who we catch our kid watching porn or masturbating or having sex or whatever the thing is, we need to stop and evaluate. Like, “Have I dealt with all of my unresolved stuff?” Because the answer’s gonna be most likely not unfortunately. Right? Because the statistics are—the fact is that many of us have suffered these same things. We were exposed to pornography. We had same touch, child touch interactions. We learned puberty, things from sleepovers and camp outs. And no one talks about it until they get in therapy, until they get in a group, until something blows up. And then it’s like, “Oh, that happened to you? Yeah, that happened to me. Oh, that’s not normal? Oh, oh.” You know, it like, what were we doing? What have we been doing as a society for, you know, years and years and years? And it’s because we didn’t know. We didn’t even know those things were happening or could happen. And so, yeah, we’ve got to look at our kids as innocent and we have to see that there is a war going on for their hearts and their minds, and people are paying to send this stuff out to whoever has a phone or a device or—and it doesn’t care. You know, it’s technology. It’s an app. It’s an algorithm. And so you can’t blame your 16-year-old for looking at porn when the porn’s gonna get sent to him in the first place, and you didn’t do anything to train him and walk him through how to use it. I mean, one thing I do now, when I speak to kids all the time, I love talking to teenagers and pre-teens, I’ll say, “Raise your hand if you have a phone.” And so they’ll raise their hand and I’ll say, “Keep your hand up if you have TikTok or Instagram or Snapchat. Keep their hand up.” I’ll say, “Okay, keep your hand up if you’re a parent taught you how to use your phone.” They all put their hand down. So we’re not teaching our teenagers, our pre-teens, how to use social media, how to use Instagram, how to use devices appropriately; what, you know, what can happen to them and what to do if it does. And then we shame them for not knowing better.
Teri Miller: Yes. Oh my goodness.
Amy Moore: Yeah. So I want you to talk a little bit about what actually it does to the brain of a developing child.
Clint Davis: Yeah. Uh, technology or porn or what?
Amy Moore: Porn, yeah.
Clint Davis: Yeah. So pornography, you know, some research shows that it has—it’s more addictive than cocaine. So it’d be like taking a line of coke at 8 years old and then expecting to not want more of it, or for it not to chemically alter the way you think and the way you feel. It’s such a hit a dopamine. It’s such a hit of endorphins when you see sexuality like that, at that age, that you instantly want more, even if it makes you disgusted. So even if you’re like, “That’s gross, I don’t even know what that is,” there’s a curiosity and a connection. And the problem is that for many of us, we like, Teri said earlier, we have attachment issues, right? We have these attachments. It really easily is “I’m a child, I have a need, I ask for that need” and whether it gets met or doesn’t get met forms my attachment.
Teri Miller: Mm-hmm.
Clint Davis: And again, we can do a podcast on that. So many of us have attachment failure already, so we’re looking for connection. We’re looking for intimacy. We’re looking to be known and to be seen and to be wanted. And I think we have a God-given image that’s also doing that.
But what happens is, is that a child at 6 or 7, or 8 or 9, let’s say 6 to 12, sees pornography online. Not only do they get all the chemicals, but there’s something about the sexuality that gives them a sense of connection that’s in their brain, and it’s just fake. So you have kind of the dopamine, serotonin battle. You have—dopamine is addictive. You need more and more of it. It never satisfies. It only touches five receptors in the brain. And you have serotonin that touches like 15 receptors in the brain. You know, it’s very satisfying. It gives you this low-slung, slow high, and pornography is just pure dopamine, right? It’s pure dumping. It’d be—and I say this all the time, it’s like, I think about salads. Okay, so salads give you serotonin. They literally, you eat salads and you take care of yourself and you release serotonin. I never want to eat a salad, but every time I eat a salad, I’m like, God, I’m so glad! I love salads. Like, I need to eat this every day for lunch. And then the next day I’m like, I’m getting Cane’s. I don’t want salad. You know, like I’m gonna get something terrible. But everything that’s dopamine oriented, you want immediately, but you regret it, right? So with pornography, it’s like, everyone who’s ever seen porn isn’t like, “Wow, I’m glad I watched that.” They’re like, “Ugh.” Afterwards I’m like, “That’s terrible. That was bad for me. I’m never gonna do that again.” And then five hours later they’re like, it wasn’t that bad. And your brain—the brain’s going, “I want that dopamine.” So the crazy thing is that over time, and unfortunately, for children, especially once they get into the teenage age with cell phones, they could watch porn six hours a day. And let’s break that down a little bit ‘cause I just did a sex addiction group this morning and we were talking about it. Your little boys and little girls on TikTok watching other little boys and girls and 19-year-olds and 22-year-olds dance without any clothes on and grind and do the things that they do on these reels is pornography to their brain. It might not be two people nude having sex, but the dopamine and the arousal that it’s causing, they might as well be watching it. And so these kids watch that stuff all day, every day. You know, one of the issues we have is that it’s changing, it’s mur—and again, I don’t wanna get too graphic, but I think we have to be real. Pornography—86% of pornography is violence towards men and women. So we’re not talking about them seeing two people have sex, which isn’t good for children in the first place either. We’re not talking about them being exposed to breasts or them being exposed to a penis, which is not good for their brains and, and causes all these same feelings. We’re talking about graphic violence. And so they are seeing graphic violence and linking that with sexuality and then through puberty, masturbating to it. And so their first exposure to sexuality, especially if their parents haven’t talked to them, especially if they haven’t had any context or conversation about it, especially if they’ve already had some kind of thing that’s made them feel shame about themselves that they’ve done or someone else has done, and then they’re seeing a violent act done and masturbating to it. I mean, what that does to their brain and how that wire’s pleasure and shame and body image issues is insane. And we’re—we’re not talking it. We’re talking about the problems and the symptoms that are coming out of it, but we’re not talking about what are the root causes. And I think this is one of the root causes is that we’re their arousal template … temple … template and their—I’m gonna say that again. Their arousal template and their neurology is so linked to violence and graphicness and high levels of dopamine that they just don’t make it. You know, and I think I said this last time, but the number one buyer of Viagra is 18- to 24-year-old males in America. Because they can’t have an erection. There’s so much erectile dysfunction in that age group because for a decade they’ve watched so much pornography that a regular, intimate relationship can’t arouse them in the way that this other thing has. And it’s just—it’s just science. It’s not, it’s not like they don’t like their wife or their girlfriend or their boyfriend or whatever.
Amy Moore: That’s definitely—no, but I mean that’s something that parents really need to hear, that it changes the narrative of their future relationships. Their ability to connect intimately with their future husband or wife.
Clint Davis: Yeah. Well, they start to, they also—yeah, they see, they also, and a lot of us before phones did this already, but now it’s just like everything’s on steroids. But, you know, I’ve had to work on my own therapy of, of going, okay, sex is not about pleasure. Pleasure is the byproduct. Sex is about intimacy. About connection. And the pleasure will come and be a part of it. But we, we are—we have created not only through television— like not just sexually, but like in the way we parent and do life, a bunch of pleasure seekers.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: How can I eat the best food? How can I drink the best drink? How can I watch the best shows? How can I ride the best rides and drive the best cars and have the, you know, best life experience as high as I could possibly have it. Well, sex isn’t like that. I mean, surprise, surprise. If you get married, it’s about connection. And not every sexual event is gonna be the best orgasm you’ve ever had, but that’s what pornography has created in our children is that’s what, that’s their education.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: And so they think that’s the goal of sex. It’s pleasure. And so they don’t care how someone else feels or how someone else looks. That person’s just a body to them to be used. And unfortunately, that’s the lessons that porn is teaching. And so, we have—I mean, they come in my office at 22 or 30 or 50 and we’re having to rewire and relearn all of that. And again, that was a generation of people who didn’t have phones.
Teri Miller: Right.
Amy Moore: And that rewiring is not easy.
Clint Davis: No. It takes daily work. It takes getting up and doing groups. It takes reading in your, in your, you know, in your book. It takes being, you know, confessing these things to other the people. And I mean, it takes a lot of work to stay sober once you’ve pushed that over the edge.
Teri Miller: I wanna, I wanna just kind of revisit again, like when things go wrong. So we talked about, you know, that that’s—you’re not bad, this bad thing happened to you. And then another thing you brought up is to then—you said, give her some space for a while. Make sure she knows that she’s loved, she’s not in trouble. Give her lots of comfort and space. And then revisit it later to talk with her about what sexuality is. And so everything that you’re saying, like what should it be, what is it really, and how it was portrayed wrong that you’re saying that can be a part of the recovery process if our kids stumbles into something that has harmed them.
Clint Davis: Yes. Because they’re gonna, they’re very, they’re—kids are very resilient and I don’t mean like they’re resilient, so let’s not, like, let’s not worry about them. I mean, what I see so much clinically is somebody being hurt or traumatized by some, some big event: racism, sexism, sexual abuse, exposure to pornography. And the real problem isn’t that the thing happened, it’s that no one addressed it immediately, quickly, and then walked with them for weeks and months after it.
Teri Miller: Yep.
Clint Davis: No one, no one externalized that problem and said, “Hey, that’s not who you are. That that was their fault, that was our fault. Let us take responsibility for that. And let me keep saying that to you as long as you need me to say it until you believe it.”
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: And for a kid, man, a year can go by and they’re like, “Oh, no, I don’t—.” You know, there may be some, some lingering things like, like we all do. We don’t live in a perfect world. But the main issue where it turns into addiction and trauma and avoidance and all these things is somebody says, comes in my office and goes, “I’m, and I’ve had this, I’m 72 years old and my dad sexually molested me and I’ve never told anybody else. You know, I’m 55. My wife just caught me watching pornography and having sex with prostitutes. I’ve been doing this my whole life. I’ve been married, I have four kids. Hey man, you know, I didn’t realize this was an issue because this is just what I’ve always used to cope since I was little. And no one ever talked to me about it. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I thought I was the only one.” And, and one of my favorite phrases is I tell people, “You’re not uniquely broken. I know you feel so horrible and so uniquely broken that you’re the only one that’s ever seen these things, you know, done these things to these images, thought about these, you know, things, enjoyed these things, but you’re not. You are wired to enjoy sexuality and wired to enjoy intimacy, but you’re not wired to do it this early, and you’re not wired to see these things in this in this way.”
Teri Miller: You talked about—and I may be confusing a little bit, like some of your advice and my other friend’s advice, Jennifer’s advice and who is a specialist in this area as well—but another thing that I found super helpful that we were able to do again after we gave her, you know, two or three days, several days of kind of space. The other thing was the consequences were not related to the porn. The consequences were related to breaking the agreement we had in our family about the use of device. And so we had a consequence of no more closed bedroom door, and we had a consequence of no device usage at all for at—we said at least a month, and it may go longer. And so it broke—
Clint Davis: I would, I would advise 90 days.
Teri Miller: Okay. 90 days. Okay.
Clint Davis: Yep. I mean, if you’re gonna take an extreme, you know, stance on it, and which I tend to do when it comes to these kind of—kind of things.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: Because a lot of times addiction, we say 30 days, we have a 30-day rehab and we know how well those work. So you know, when we, when we do, when we have people who are, you know, come in with pornography addiction or sexual addiction or sexual trauma, we try to say, “Hey, you need at least 90 days, three months to not light this pathway up, not turn this back on so that you can have clarity about whatever is happening.
Teri Miller: Yeah. But I think it was so good that you, that, that we took, you know, we were able to have that consequence, but it was not about the porn. And so even like the teenager that hey, we’re having this consequence, not because of what you saw, because that is this yucky thing that’s out there and that happened.
Client Davis: Mm-hmm.
Teri Miller: But we’re having this consequence because you had your device, whatever it was that maybe was against what was helpful in the home. Or even if it’s a new, if it’s a new consequence of, because this happened, we’re gonna put this boundary around this device. This is about the device. It’s not about you or the porn or what you saw.
Clint Davis: Yep. A hundred percent. I think that goes into a whole parenting, you know, thing of punishment and discipline and to me they’re different things. “Discipline” means to teach, you know, the root word is “disciple.” It means to teach. And so, you know, we want to discipline our kids. We want to teach them, but punishment is not really helpful. And punishing a kid for seeing something inappropriate or touching another kid, or when in all likelihood, the only way they did that was because they weren’t protected or educated or supported by us, is saying that there’s something again, uniquely wrong with you. And I, as a parent, would’ve never done that. And you, you know, you’re the only kid who would’ve done this, and so you need a punishment to learn your lesson. Instead of, no, you need safe space. You need, you need somewhere to land. And then we can have conversations about that later. And we can, we can set some parameters and consequences and restraints and boundaries in place.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: That’s not the same thing as punishing you. It gonna be a consequence. You’re not gonna get to do some of the things and have some of the privileges that you used to have. But we’re, you know, we’re reigning that in because obviously it’s the—obviously this thing hurts you.
Teri Miller: Right. Yeah. A boundary. I love that.
Amy Moore: Well, it’s gonna—just to note, it’s going to feel like a punishment to the child, right?
Clint Davis: Hundred percent.
Amy Moore: I don’t get to do what I want to do. You are punishing me. Right? And so it’s just—
Clint Davis: Yeah, they’re gonna say that.
Amy Moore: We continue to Kate, “Yes, this, this sucks that you don’t get to do this, but here’s why. Right? It didn’t have anything to do with the choice you made over here, it’s what you know, you broke this rule.
Clint Davis: Well, that goes back to, you know, us being regulated ourself as parents. You know, a lot of this comes down to, you know, our nervous systems and our own trauma and our fight or flight that we’re in. And so, if we can’t take a break or regulate ourselves, take some deep breaths, do some grounding exercises, talk to our spouse, talk to a friend, and make sure that we’re going in with the right intentions and the right end result in mind. Like what’s our goal really? Do we, do we think that our kid needs to feel like crap and feel shame and then they won’t do it? That’s a lot of what we’ve been taught. I know I have like, as long as I get punished, I get grounded, I get yelled at, I get whatever, and I see parents do it all the time, then that’ll be painful enough that they won’t wanna do the thing.
Amy Moore: Right.
Clint Davis: If we send people to jail thinking, oh, we send, give ’em 40 years for armed robbery, they won’t do it again. They get out a week later, they do it again because they’re not—they did it for a reason and that reason has a root cause.
Teri Miller: Mm-hmm.
Clint Davis: And so we just focus on the symptoms and we project. And so we have got to do a good job as parents of, of thinking about what we’re trying to teach, what’s the lesson we’re trying to teach about pornography, about cell phone use, about disobedience, about disrespect. I mean, all of those things need to be addressed. Obviously, I don’t think our kids should just run all over us, but it’s like before we go to say something, we need to be centered and grounded. So that whatever it is we’re trying to teach them, they can learn.
Teri Miller: Yeah. Hey, we need a—
Amy Moore: great, yeah, we need to take a break. Let Terry read a word from our sponsor and then when we come back, we’ve been talking a lot about what do we do when this happens, but let’s talk a little bit about prevention when we come back.
Clint Davis: Yeah, absolutely.
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Amy Moore: All right, and we’re back talking with Clint Davis about a really difficult topic. So Clint, let’s talk a little bit about what parents can do to prevent access in the first place.
Clint Davis: Yeah, I think it, I mean, the first thing I think if you’re—let’s talk about prevention. So if we’re talking about prevention, we’re talking about a parent listening to this, that they’re like, “We’re not doing any of this stuff. I have a little kid, they don’t have a phone. What do I do?” And I would recommend you start to talk to your friends about what you’re gonna do, that the parents of the kids that you’re in community with, we need to be on the same page. Because what I wanna see is intent. In five years your kid’s like, “Well, all my—none of my friends have phones.” Instead of, “I’m the only one who doesn’t have a phone.”
Teri Miller: Right.
Clint Davis: Which is what I see right now. And so, you know, we as parents have to have to form communities of people who are understand this stuff, listen to this stuff, understand the consequences of it, realize that it’s not, it’s not a small thing, that the consequences are lifelong and very dangerous. And so, that’s the first thing. It’s finding community. The second thing I would be is there’s a ton of co, you know, there’s a ton of—okay, and I wanna say this: a phone is a device and a device is a phone. So, I mean, tablets, notebooks, whatever it is that they can access the internet and apps with is the problem. It’s not, you know—yes, texting and talking is a problem. But we have to make sure that all of our devices have Covenant Eyes or Bark or, you know, whatever you choose, you know, app, to make sure that you’re seeing what they’re seeing and that you’re able to check in on it and you’re able to prevent even them googling and accidentally seeing it. So if it’s an old phone, get rid of it or put a blocker on it. If it’s an old device, get rid of it or put a blocker on it. Because if they pick it up, they’re not gonna search for it, but it’s gonna come for them. The other thing I would say is start to have, you know, good conversations again. I said good pictures, bad pictures. That’s one book I know of that’s really good. But, you know, my boys, you know, we talk about it all the time. Where can you see good pictures? Where can you see bad pictures? What do you do when you see these things? If you see that, if you see something, come and tell us. You’re not gonna be in trouble. So a lot of, a lot of that is, is part of the prevention piece. People ask me all the time, like, “When should I give my kid a phone?” And my favorite analogy is, you know, “One, when you want them to see pornography and two”—because that’s the reality. If they get a phone and you don’t lock it down, and they have Instagram, they’re gonna see porn. If they have Snapchat, they’re going to see pornography. Even if you have text messages, they’re gonna get text message bots from Amazon and from wherever that have links that are gonna bring up pornography. It happens to all of us, and especially if you’re male and your phone knows you’re male, you know it’s gonna send, it’s gonna send it directly to you even more. Your ads on Facebook are gonna come up sexually. You’re, I mean, the whole thing is geared to do those things. And so just know that that’s gonna be the biggest battle when they get on there. So I would like to see cell phones be done like a driver’s license. I think I said this last time, but you know, you learn to drive a car with your parents by sitting in their lap and they, you know, they do this and they push the gas and you drive. Same thing with the phone. Like every once in a while you might, your 8-, 10-year-old picks your phone up and you let ’em take a picture and you, you know, you make it a thing that we deal with. And as they get older, 12, 13, what happens is you take ’em to a parking lot and you let ’em drive their your car around and make sure they don’t hit the light pole and don’t kill anybody. And same thing with a phone. Like maybe they get a gab phone or maybe they get a, a phone that doesn’t have internet. They start to learn to text and call and guess what? You receive those texts and you check those texts and you have conversations with them about like, “Hey, that really wasn’t very nice or that tone was off, or let me teach you how to text appropriately and how to message appropriately and how to call appropriately and I’m gonna be in the room while you’re doing it. I’m gonna—right? Then you get a learner’s permit when you’re like 14 or 15, and what happens is you get a learner’s permit and your parent has to be in the car with you at all times, and they have to watch you and make sure you’re not gonna kill someone or do something, you know completely stupid. And then you get your driver’s license, you take a test and you’re able to have a car on your own and drive it around and you’re relatively safe, you know, for the world. Cell phones should be the same way. We should walk our kids through how to do this appropriately to where there’s not even a like thought in their head that they’re gonna immediately get a phone and do whatever they want to. Right? Kids know how you’re gonna allow it and how you shape your world around these things. And so if a kid thinks, “Oh, I’m just gonna get a phone and have full access,” then we’ve missed the conversation. Right? My kid’s not like, “Hey, I’m just gonna get to drive your car at 13 anytime I want.” Like they know there’s a process and there’s a thing and there’s a license there they’re gonna have to eventually get. And so every kid is different on that. Some are mature, more mature, some are not. Some would never do it, you know, is what I hear. And then they, and then they—I have pastors come to me all the time and they’re like the one kid in my youth group who I thought would never look at porn and came to me last week and was like, “I’m addicted. I need help.” “He’s a leader. He’s the best kid. He’s honest. We talk about it all the time,” and it’s not a moral issue. I mean, it is a moral issue, but it’s not an individually moral issue. It’s not like some people are just better and so they don’t do it. So that would be my thing is, you give your kid a phone when they can drive or when they’ve shown you the type of maturity that they can earn a driver’s license. As far as social media, same thing. Except for if you’re gonna ignore me completely and let people—kids—have social media, then you should be signed in on their account on your phone. So if your kid has an Instagram account or a Snapchat account, then you should be signed in on your phone to that app so you can see everything sent to from how they handle it, what they do, until they show you enough maturity that you feel like you can let them do that on their own. But that’s not gonna be in a week, in my opinion.
Teri Miller: Right.
Clint Davis: Does that make sense?
Amy Moore: Absolutely.
Clint Davis: So it’s not all or nothing. I’m not anti phones, I’m not anti-technology. I’m not going home and burn everything. I’m anti letting kids have devices when they have no training, no support, and no bridge to go back to when it—when what inevitably is gonna happen happens.
Amy Moore: Right. Well, we teach them everything else. Like we don’t tell our 6-year-old, “Go cook your own dinner on the stove.”
Clint Davis: Amen.
Teri Miller: Right.
Amy Moore: Right? I mean, like, we don’t expect our, you know, 8-year-old to know how to do laundry if we haven’t shown them how to do laundry. I mean, we teach them life skills, so why would we not teach them something that is so important? Wow.
Clint Davis: Yeah. It’s a historical problem, Amy. That’s, that’s a great point. The problem is, is that we were never taught.
Teri Miller: Right. It didn’t exist.
Clint Davis: It was, listen, we went from one night having a flip phone Razr phone to an iPhone 1 in one night. That would be like not having airplanes and then the next day having airplanes.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: Right? And guess what? When we, with airplanes, we had about 60 years and then what do we do? We created grids and air traffic controllers and people to monitor those things and devices to carry those things and safety regulations and teams of people around it to make sure everybody doesn’t die. The cell phone went from nothing to a Boeing 7-whatever—
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Clint Davis: And then everybody started flying and it was just—everybody’s crashing. And that’s literally what’s happening. And yes, if tomorrow a million planes took off in the air, some would make it, but it’s gonna be a few. And I feel like that’s where we are statistically with our kids, is that very few are actually making it. If we look at success as emotional success, if we look at success as healthy sexuality, if we look at success as peace of mind and a lack of anxiety and shame, but that’s not what we’re seeing statistically in our society. And so we’ve got to, on the prevention end, if you’re a parent and you haven’t gotten into this game yet, you have gotta see what the consequences are and how you can prevent it. It’s preventable. It’s, you know, just like the body safety stuff. Like that stuff, doing those things reduces the likelihood of your kid being sexually abused by like 80 something percent. Like that’s crazy, right? If I told you you’d win the lottery, you got an 86% chance of winning the lottery ticket, you’d be buying all the lottery tickets. And yet we won’t take the time to read the book or do the thing that’ll really save our kids’ lives. And I think it has a lot to do with our own unresolved trauma and view of ourself and view of sexuality that I, I hope that parents can feel hope and go, “I can do this. There are people out here fighting for it. I’ve got resources. I can have somebody come in and train my church, or our team, or our school, or whomever, and then I can immediately start making those, those changes. Because that’s the thing. You can. You can start right now there. There are very practical things that we’ve talked about that people can immediately start addressing and changing.
Teri Miller: Yeah.
Amy Moore: So, Clint, I know that we could listen to you all day. I’m sure our listeners who are listening want to listen to you all day. How can they listen to you more?
Clint Davis: Yeah, so we have our own podcast, Asking Why With Clint Davis. And it usually airs on Friday morning or goes live or however you say that. I’m a Boomer, so, you know, still not in the technology world. So they can listen to that. We cover all these topics. Several episodes—I think it’s 27, 28, and like 35—specifically cover these topics for an hour and a half and they walk you through all that. You can. You can email us or go to our website at [email protected] or clintdaviscounseling.com and you can book a speaker. You can have us come out and and walk your team through how to have these conversations and in detail and ask questions and do a Q&A. And I love that part. I love getting to show up to a group of a hundred parents, talk through some of these things, give the reasons—not just tell you what to do, but give you the foundational reasons why so you really understand in the moment why you’re doing what you’re doing. And then answer specific questions like, you know, like Teri and I had those conversations, having a person, you can go, “Okay, in my context, in this situation with my kid’s personality, what do we do?” So those are a few, a few things that I can offer. And if you reach out to me through Gmail, then I can point you in other resources, or if you listen to our podcast, I think everything’s listed on there. There’s apps and there’s uh, um, books and all that kind of stuff.
Amy Moore: And your social media handles?
Clint Davis: It’s @ClintDavisCounselingLLC or @ClintDavisCounseling.
Amy Moore: All right.
Clint Davis: They’ll come up.
Amy Moore: Fantastic. So we’re out of time. Listeners, thank you so much for listening today. Clint, thank you so much for coming back and being with us again today. You just have so much valuable, shocking, eye-opening, timely advice and wisdom, and so we just, we so appreciate you and your work.
Clint Davis: Yeah, no problem. You know, all glory to God and him—him keeping me—You know, I always say he kept me—I’ve been through a lot of trauma, but he kept me right on the fringes and he kept me finding people and people that stepped into my life, men and women who loved on me and loved me through my mistakes and through my issues, helped me get into therapy, helped me recover. And that’s what I want for people is for them to have hope that nobody’s too broken, nobody’s messed up too bad, no parents have screwed up their kid too much, that in a very short period of time with the right help and the right support, it can be recovered from, and you can move forward and have another 30 years of a relationship or 40 years of a relationship how it’s supposed to be. Yeah, it might take a year or two of grinding it out and doing some work and uncovering some, some brokenness. But man, if you can do that with your kid, if you can do that with your parent, if you can do that with your spouse, you can have the rest of your life to enjoy some peace and some comfort. So I just encourage people to, to know that.
Teri Miller: Thank you.
Clint Davis: Absolutely. Thank y’all for having me on. I’m honored to do it. I love both of you and think y’all are awesome and the work that you do as well, and the stuff that you put out is extremely helpful to parents and Brainy Moms is an awesome resource.
Teri Miller: Thank you.
Amy Moore: Thank you. So listeners, if you liked our show as much as Clint likes our show, we’d love it if you leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. If you’d rather watch us, the video for every episode is posted on our YouTube channel, and you can follow us on social media at The Brainy Moms. So look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms. And we’re busy moms, so we’re out. Teri: See ya.