imagesCAODEM2P(Don’t miss Part 1 of this post)

You’re pretty certain it’s too late … your child is looking at porn.

Before you overreact, you need to find out if this was your child’s first exposure. If it was, then have a frank discussion, move the computer, and get some filtering software on your computers, notebooks, Smartphones, etc. – STAT! (See my recommendations later in this article.)

If you’re pretty certain this is not a first time exposure, then it’s time to have a very frank conversation with your son/daughter. Be prepared; you will most likely face resistance. Whether or not you’ve had conversations about porn in the past, most kids won’t stand before a parent and say they think looking at porn is a good idea. In their gut, they know it’s wrong and depending on what they’ve watched … very wrong! So in all likelihood, they are going to deny their use and vehemently deny that they have a problem.

On the other hand, there are those who will readily confess that they’ve looked at porn and are terribly sorry. Trust me on this one, you’re going to wonder if they would be as sorry if they hadn’t gotten caught.

Don’t miss this … punishment and correction are not your goal here. Restoring your child and helping them recalibrate to God’s design for sexuality needs to be your priority.

No one (including you) is going to be comfortable with the direction these conversations may go, but if you have any reason to believe your child is looking at pornography, you absolutely cannot look the other way. This. Will. Not. Go. Away!

That said, do you remember how Jesus approached the adulterous woman in John 8? He was compassionate and kind, but He didn’t mince words. Now would be a good time to put to use your best Jesus impersonation. Teens and parents often struggle with communication anyway. You need to set the stage for healthy communication that promotes truth and candor throughout the restoration of your child to God designed sexuality. To be blunt … you need to position yourself as someone who is safe for your child to approach, even if you aren’t going to like what you hear. (No one said this was going to be easy.)

I’m working under the assumption that like most parents you might be tempted to point some fingers about now and many of them might be pointing at yourself. Beating yourself up for a host of perceived areas of negligence is not going to help the situation. If there really are good, better, and best families, then believe me … the very best families have had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, non-God-honoring things happen. Don’t waste your time looking back. Everyone (parents, children, friends, porn producers, etc.) owns a piece of this pie. Own your piece and get to the more important business of restoration.

First, if you have not had the important conversations that I mentioned earlier, have them right now! (Read Parents, It’s Time to Speak Up & Take Action … and do it!)

Set some boundaries in your house that will protect the purity of the minds of those in your home. Let me suggest a few:

  • Allow no coarse jokes or hints of immorality.
  • Be extremely sensitive to sexually charged media or resources in your home. Ask yourself, “How will watching this program or movie, or having this magazine or advertisement in our home affect our walk with God?” (But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:3-4)
  • Establish rules about media use. Length of use and hours of use. These rules should not only apply to technology at home, but also when your child is outside of your home. Make a contract and sign it. Layout the consequences of blowing it.

I told you I wouldn’t tap dance around the tough stuff, so what I’m about to say may make you uncomfortable. That’s too bad. The sad truth is that most people who struggle with a sex addiction (and that’s what frequent use of porn is) have suffered sexual or other abuse at some point. Do not overlook this possibility. Ask the hard questions.

As long as we are stomping on tender feelings, another often overlooked problem is relational issues between the child and one or both of the parents. In particular, boys who have dad issues. Do not misunderstand me! I’m NOT implying that this is evidence that you absolutely have a bad relationship with your child. Sometimes there are issues, sometimes there aren’t.  I’m just sayin’ … If you’ve had this nagging feeling that something’s not right in that department, this just might be affirming a problem that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Mind you, your child isn’t without responsibility here. Let’s do a quick inventory: Has he/she been honest about this issue or other typical teen issues or are you discovering a pattern of lies? Who are they hanging out with – anyone who is a less than stellar influence? Have you seen evidence of any drug or alcohol use/abuse? Do you feel like he or she is coming clean now?

Here’s where it gets dicey. If your child has already had frequent exposures, then he/she has very likely become desensitized to some degree. As this happens, kids tend to seek porn more frequently and seek porn that leans toward or is hard-core. This is how addiction happens.

This is geared toward young college students, but I believe the truths herein are true for younger kids as well: “What can be considered established is that frequent exposure of young adults (i.e., mostly students in their first year of college) to readily available erotica, explicit and graphic, but devoid of coercion, fosters a rapid overcoming of adverse reactions such as feelings of guilt, repulsion, and disgust, and an equally rapid development of unhindered enjoyment reactions. Prolonged exposure leads to habituation of excitatory reactions, however. Enjoyment diminishes as a result, and the consumption of novel materials (i.e., erotica depicting less common sexual behaviors) becomes necessary to sustain enjoyment reactions of acceptable intensity. This excitatory habituation constitutes the first phase in habituation paradigms of sexual deviancy.” (Bryant D. Zillmann. “Pornography: Models of Effects on Sexual Deviancy.” Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior, New York, 2000, Taylor & Francis.)

Now here’s the deal: You are (and must continue to be) your child’s parent first and foremost. That is your most important role in this recovery process. Your son or daughter probably already feels an overabundance of shame and they can read the tiniest nuances of your facial expressions, so in order to protect the preciousness of your relationship with your child, I strongly encourage you to seek the help of a professional counselor. It will feel safer for your child to open up and share difficult information with someone who is not a parent. Many parents will fear that if they ask certain questions they may plant ideas in the child’s head that have nothing to do with what he/she has actually seen. A therapist is equipped to handle such delicate situations. (See my recommendations for finding therapists at the end of this article.)

Luke Gilkerson over at Covenant Eyes suggests that “Exploring the Bible, we can ‘reverse engineer’ the bad training pornography has given us and replace it with God’s thoughts.”

God is the creator of sexual satisfaction and has designed marriage, not pornographic fantasy, for its enjoyment (Song of Solomon. 4:9-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).

God has defined good sex as an expression of “oneness,” not emotional detachment (Genesis 2:24).

God has created women in His image. They are not sexual commodities but are worthy of great honor (Genesis 1:27; 1 Peter 3:7).

God has designed sex as an expression of affection, not aggression
(Deuteronomy 22:25; Ephesians 5:28-30).

God redeems our fallen sex drive so sex is an act of love and giving, not selfishness (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23).

Finally, you cannot be porn cops for the rest of your child’s life. This really boils down to discipling your child in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and help him/her steward their sexuality in a way that honors Him.

Unfortunately, instruction on heart orientation won’t steer your child away from pornography. Establishing boundaries and protection for your child will also be necessary. All kids (0-99) should have a combination of a filter and an accountability program on all of their technology. Remember, you don’t always need to be the one seeking the porn, it will seek you. Therefore, filters and accountability programs should be in place whether or not there has ever been evidence of a porn problem.

Recommended Resources: (Control and Click links in red)

Support Groups and Workshops:

www.faithfulandtrueministries.com. Dr. Mark Laaser and Debra Laaser provide counseling, education, and support for sexual addicts and their spouses.

www.freedomeveryday.org. L.I.F.E. Ministries (Living in Freedom Everyday) provides a list of support groups in the United States who use their L.I.F.E. guides.


Professional Counseling:

Focus on the Family’s Counseling Department. (800) 232-6459 Weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time).

www.christiananswers.net/love/supportgroups.html. Christian website that lists several of the most notable organizations providing professional counseling.

www.safefamilies.org. Professional counseling resources for recovery and pornography addiction.

**In/Near Rochester MN: Wellspring Family Therapy Center  or Pathways Psychological Services


Accountability Software and Internet Filters:

Visible filtering software can be seen on the computer and it may be tempting to disable it.

*Covenant Eyes (This is available at a discounted price on my website) Accountability software

www.internetfilterreview.com. This is a great place to compare Internet filtering software.

www.netnanny.com

www.safeeyes.com. Accountability and filter.

*www1.k9webprotection.com

Stealth filtering software is not easily seen on the computer. It is accurate and difficult to disable.

www.webwatchernow.com

www.spectorsoft.com

www.keyghost.com