My wife and I have a parenting disagreement. Who's right?

My 4th grade daughter has some kind of school assignment where she’s supposed to write a letter to President Obama and tell him something she would like him to do as President. It’s pretty open ended. They’re just supposed to advocate for an issue that’s important to them.

My daughter decided she wants to end pornography, and wants to tell the President he should make pr0n illegal.

I tried to gently explain the First Amendment, and why pornography couldn’t be banned even if she didn’t like it. I told her it was ok that she didn’t like it, and she didn’t have to look at it (not that I think she actually has, but I’ve caught her closing browser windows really quickly when I come into the room, so who knows these days?), but that she couldn’t tell other people not to look at it.

My wife disagrees, and thinks that pr0n sucks, and has encouraged her to go right ahead and tell Obama to ban it.

We had a bit of a tiff over it last night. She said I was trying to defend something that was misogynist and degrading to women (my wife is a bit of an old school feminist, plus she’s a Catholic).

I told her I wasn’t trying to defnd porn per se, but was only trying to explain the First Amendment.

My wife said fuck my First Amendment. She said I could go downstairs and fuck my First Amendment on the couch. She said I could go live with my First Amendment in the car.

So I had to cave on that really fast, and said that our daughter should write whatever is in her heart.

But who’s really right as far as what should be taught? Is there anything wrong with trying to explain the concept of free speech, or (as my wife says), is that too nuanced for a 10 year old (albeit an exceptionally bright 10 year old)? Am I right that we shouldn’t be teaching her to advocate for censorship?

What would you do in this situation?

You’re right & your wife is wrong, plain and simple. I also think it’s a bit weird for a 4th grader to write something for their class about pornography.

Is her grade dependant on the topic being “realistic”? Is part of the assignment understanding what the President can and cannot do?

If not, then shut the fuck up and understand that no matter how often women say they’re cool with porn, there are times it’s very existance will make them crazy. This is one of those times.

You were fine to say your peace about how it’s impossible to do constitutionally, but you should have ended it with “You can write anything you want” as long as that’s what the assignment calls for.


When I was in fourth grade, I thought that smoking was a horrible evil and should be immediately outlawed. Now, over ten years later, I am of the belief that all recreational drugs should be legal. I doubt what your daughter thinks now is going to be what she thinks in a few years.

Anyway, letting your daughter state an opinion is not “teaching her to advocate for censorship”. But telling your daughter not to state her opinions is certainly teaching her exactly what censorship is. Let her write her sex-negative letter. It doesn’t mean she’ll turn into a Southern Baptist later in life.


How does your daughter know about the existence of pornography? Have you asked her if she has seen any of it? Basically, what caused a 10-year-old to make this the topic to talk about to Obama?

Also, regarding the “let the kid write whatever she likes and fuck the First Amendment” what would your wife say if your daughter wrote to Obama to request banning some books she didn’t like?

She’s not writing about any graphic details of pornography, she’s just saying it should be illegal. She came up with the topic on her own. I don’t think it’s supposed to be realistic, I think it’s just supposed to be an exercise in learning about democracy, and how everybody is allowed to tell elected officials their opinion. I think the teacher expcets stuff like “bring world peace,” and “feed the starving children.” I don’t think she was exepcting anti-porn screeds, but my daughter has always been a little serious and precocious like that. She’s like Lisa Simpson, but real.

My wife is really liberal in most ways, but she has this block about pornography. There’s no use trying to talk to her. She just starts telling me what chauvinist, horndog pig I am. I think I’ll probably have to choose a different angle to explain the First Amendment to my kid.

Tell your wife that male/male porn is not misogynist and degrading to women, and suggest that subject to your daughter.

(But I agree, she’s a little young to be writing about porn.)

Seriously. Like you Dio I will talk about almost anything, but how does a 4th grader become so opinionated and militant about porn (of all things)? Has mommy been talking with her about vaginal power and male objectification?

I don’t know. She reads way above her age group, and I think she must have come across the word somewhere and asked my wife what it was. My wife has had a lot of birds and bees conversations with her that I haven’t been privy to.

I think her attitude is basically that the legal nuances don’t matter yet, and that the kid should just be able to express her opinions however she wants. I don’t think she would shut me down as quickly if it was about political spech instead of porn, though.

Off-topic, but I am completely incapable of comprehending this view. To me, anti-porn is anti-woman: To tell women (not saying that porn is exclusively women, but the anti-porn people focus only on the women, so I will too) what they can and cannot do with their bodies is outrageously anti-woman and anti-liberty. Lots of women find empowerment through modelling for porn, proportional to the amount of control they have in its production.


I love your wife and would like her for my own. Except I’m a female so she wouldn’t go for that.
Yes, it should be illegal, just like heroin, unless you argue everything should be legal.
Honestly, I would’ve asked Obama to outlaw homework myself…

She comes from the old school, Gloria Steinem view that porn causes violence to women. It’s not a rational or supported view, but she’s adamant about it.

Your daughter should write about what she wants to write about. It’s not like Obama is actually going to read it and become Edwin Meese III.

This is a separate issue from the differing opinions of you and your wife (and now daughter). You should respect that you all have differences. That’s another issue to take up with wifey. And lastly, there is the issue of whether mommy is indoctrinating your baby while you are not around. Your baby should not be a football in all of this.

If mommy succeeds in turning baby into a Sarah Palin clone, you are still obliged to love baby.

Not a big deal, but you might want to remind your wife that a paper about the evils of pornography, even if it is staunchly anti-porn may get bounced from the group of delivered papers because the teacher might not think it’s an appropriate topic for a 4th grader to be addressing to the POTUS.

There is also the possibility that your daughter might also get quizzed about what she knows about porn, and why she doesn’t like it by the school authorities if she turns that paper in. Regardless of what position she’s taking young kids addressing topics like that tend to set off alarm bells with certain teachers and you may find yourselves subject to unwelcome and intrusive questioning by the school, or the authorities if the teacher or other admins have their hyper vigilance porn-child abuse detector set to 11. Tell your wife if this happens she’s on her own at the ensuing parent-teacher meeting.

I disagree with your daughter’s point of view, and your wife’s point of view. Having said that, as a 10 year old I had some points of view which I now find ridiculous.

Although I disagree with it, I can understand your daughter’s opinion, so if she want to present it to the President she should go for it. The most important thing for this project is that she makes her points in a consistent and logical way. Surely that is what the teacher will be looking for. If you criticise what your daughter writes, make sure it is in terms of the internal consistency of the argument, not the position which is being advocated.

Seriously I wouldn’t let this jeopardise your relationship with either you daughter or your wife.

Count me as another who thinks it’s an odd subject for a child to be concerned enough about for that to be the one thing she’d like to write the Prez about, but I agree with your wife that she should be able to pick her own topic.

I think your wife is over-the-top wrong about porn, but that’s just me. In moderation I don’t think there’s much wrong with most porn. It honestly doesn’t do anything for me, but I don’t care much about it. If we’re going to outlaw things that are degrading to women there won’t be much left for us to do.

I’ve never had a boyfriend that’s liked porn to an unhealthy degree and I think it’s as unrealistic for men as it is for women. To get so angry that she wants you to sleep on the couch or live in your car? Yikes.

I wouldn’t get bothered about it. The point of the assignment is not to come up with a legally defensible position that could stand up to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. If this is what your daughter feels most strongly about, so be it. It’s her assignment, not yours and not your wife’s.

At 10, your daughter is exploring her own mind and experimenting with coming up with her own opinions. She will naturally change her view on just about everything as she grows and matures.

Okay, this made me guffaw. Talk about clearing bringing across your point of view!

On a different note, I assume your wife isn’t familiar with the concept of “bodice rippers,” Anne Rice sales, V.C. Andrews? Because those are, to different degrees, pr0n for women, and I personally (practicing Catholic) find bodice rippers much more degrading than Sheila Hershey’s balloons.

I say go ahead and let the girl write what she wants. Her opinions may change in ten years, or may not, it all depends on what she is taught and what she learns.

When I was nineteen I was vehemently opposed to abortion, in all cases besides looming death to the mother. I was also in the clutches of the Catholic church back then. Pornography was also something I cnsidered a sin.

Long story short, I grew up, got married, found out life isn’t a bunch of lollipops and changed my outlook. I am not the person I was when I was twenty.

Look, your kid is 10, she doesn;t know what she wants right now. Let her have her mind right now and you can teach her about the first amendment too. The important thing is she has a whole lot of options and she can weigh them as she grows. You can teach her about morals and values but in the end she needs to choose what is right for her.