In the time that I have been doing this Overcome ministry I have talked to many parents who want to know what they can do to help their kids as they mature and are exposed to pornography. I think it is important to point out that I am not talking about prevention in the sense of ways to keep your kids from seeing porn. That will be a different article and parents need to have a realistic expectation in regard to 100% prevention because the odds of your kids never seeing porn before they are 18 are extremely low.
With that being said, here are five ways to raise a porn addict:
1) Teach them to suppress their emotions.
I see this a lot in families today. Even though this is not openly taught, it is exemplified and that is just as bad, if not worse. A lot of people’s problems and church problems would be solved if people knew how to deal with feelings like fear, sadness, and shame in a healthy manner. With this, knowing that one of the primary reasons why individuals develop a porn addiction is the inability to express emotion, teaching and modeling emotional health could not be more important.
ANSWER: Don’t pretend like everything is “okay”. Teach your kids it’s okay to cry. Model how a person can talk through their emotions. (If you don’t know how to do this yourself, please reach out and let us help).
2) Make them earn your love.
Something I have learned by working with teens through the years is that many of them believe that love and affirmation are earned through good grades, clean rooms, and a mowed lawn. Might sound crazy to you parents but it’s true. Children who are affirmed by their parents are far less likely to seek out unhealthy expressions of love and acceptance if they know their parents love them unconditionally.
ANSWER: Hug and kiss your kids often so they know the love you have for them. Even when they are in trouble or you are disappointed in them. Spend quality time with them to the point that they know they are special to you. A child who never feels special to his or her parents can grow up to feel unlovable and steer them towards dependency on porn.
3) Never talk about sex.
A problem in many homes, especially Christian homes, is that the word “sex” becomes a dirty word. I have talked to many men from all over the world and one thing is almost always similar in their first exposure to porn; curiosity. Curiosity is natural, as humans we want to know the unknown and when sex is not talked about in the home children will seek answers any way they can. After all, their friends at school (and church!) and Google are waiting to educate your kids with the world’s perverted view of sex.
ANSWER: Talk about it! Answer their questions (even if it gets awkward). Just use some caution and answer appropriately to the child’s age. Curiosity and a sex drive are both things that God created in us but if the topic of sex is shamed in your house then that shame can easily develop into addiction.
4) Expose them early.
If number three didn’t get them to turn to porn, then number four surely will. As early as you can, expose them to Playboy, let them watch filthy movies, listen to music that objectifies women, and teach them that modesty is outdated. Without sexual boundaries kids won’t learn what is healthy and unhealthy sexual behavior. I learned sex and sexiness from Hollywood and some of those scars will never heal.
ANSWER: Talk about porn. Teach them the difference between good pictures and bad pictures. If your children know the difference they are far more likely to run from harmful images and even tell you when they’ve seen pornography.
5) Just trust them.
Don’t install filters. Don’t monitor internet usage. Give them access as early as possible. And just put blind trust in them. After all, you raised them right. You take them to church. They know better. This will almost guarantee they see the most violent, degrading types of porn available and awaken feelings in them that they aren’t ready for. Every porn addict I’ve ever talked to had been exposed to porn around age 11.
ANSWER: Pretty much the opposite of what I just said. I don’t trust my kids with a foam bat, why would I trust them with unrestricted access to the vilest filth the world can think up? Put filters on, only allow them to use internet accessing technology when you are in the room and teach them how to use the internet responsibly.
Please don’t do these!
There is a porn epidemic happening in our country and the worse thing you could do as a parent is sit back and do nothing. Educate yourself, stay involved in all areas of your child’s development, and reach out when you need help. An entire generation of porn addicts are now adults due in large part to parents not wanting to have that “awkward conversation.” If you want the cycle of shame and dependency to stop then take a stand and do something about it.
Let your kids know that you are there for them no matter what and you will struggle along side them even on their darkest days. Even if your kids are grown, deep down inside we all want to hear that our parents love and are available for us.
What do you think? Did I leave any out?