I can still remember the first time I saw a pornographic image. I don’t merely remember when it happened but I remember what it looked like. That first image was about more than thirty years ago, and till today I still remember it vividly.
That first image led to more images and a stronger pull toward the forbidden. Whether single or married, I struggled for years wondering why the distortion of God’s design for sexuality was digging its claws into me. It’s the same thing that goes through your child’s mind as they look at porn online. They dislike how it makes them feel about themselves. Deep down they want it to stop, but they have no idea how. This is not something they’ll simply “get over,” and as a parent, it’s important for you to understand how it happens in the first place.
During puberty, for both boys and girls, there is a curiosity formed towards their body. Everything in their bodies is seemingly changing overnight. Their bodies are going up and out, developing pimples and zits, putting off foul odors, and growing hair in new places. All these seem so foreign to them and for the first time, their changing bodies become attractive to one another.
Unfortunately, the place where most teens and tweens go to find help with their sexual curiosity is the Internet. How young tweens are first exposed to pornography, is either by accident or out of curiosity. For forty percent of children, the first time they saw porn online was because they were looking for information about sex. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not excusing even the first exposure but merely saying on how I can see it happens. It’s what follows after the first exposure that is more troubling.
I have worked with teenagers for more than two decades, and I have yet to meet a young man who said, “I used to look at porn, but I decided I didn’t want to anymore and quit.” Porn has just enough resemblance and satisfaction to the real thing that you almost can’t help but keep coming back. If your teenager is looking at porn, he won’t simply decide to stop. As he gets older the pressure and opportunity to look is only going to get greater.
If you’ve made an unfortunate discovery of porn on your child’s electronic device or home computer, the way that you respond to your child could shape your relationship for years to come. The goal is to lead your teenager to purity of heart, mind, and action. Resist the impulse to respond with shock or shame. Shame and humiliation are never a good way to handle the situation or bring about a change in his heart. He already feels embarrassed about it, but calling him a “pervert” or “sick” will almost guarantee that he will continue to struggle and will do so even more in the dark. Shame causes us to move into darkness because we don’t want anyone to see us.
Remain calm and speak to them clearly about the situation.
Let them hear your heart and concern. Let your words lead them back to wholeness and holiness.
1. Start Talking about it at a Young Age.
The average age of a child’s first exposure to internet porn is nine. Either you can act like it will never affect your child or you can prepare them for when it is likely to happen. My children were nine and ten the first time we talked about digital porn. We didn’t use the word pornography. They would have no idea what that was. We talked about what to do if a person without their clothes on pops up on a screen. As they got older the conversations become more direct.
2. Explain God’s Design for Sex.
Too many times kids have a negative view of sex or even their own sexuality because parents don’t take the time to talk with them about it. As they get older, they should be told the context in which sex should take place. It’s not a singular talk to have. It’s an ongoing conversation you have on an age-appropriate level.
3. Communicate Clear Boundaries.
Your teen needs to hear from you that pornography is never an acceptable way to learn about sexuality or to satisfy their curiosity. You don’t have to be mean about it to communicate that this is not permissible in your home. Let them know that if they have any questions, you will ALWAYS be willing to be their source of truth. This means you need to be read to give answers when questions are asked.
4. Establish Barriers for Protection.
Just because you are now talking openly with your tween about this issue doesn’t mean that you can solely leave it up to his self-discipline. I’ve learned from my own struggles that I can’t always manage myself in this area, so I don’t expect my children to either. I have accountability and boundaries in my life and likewise, it is good to put reasonable boundaries in theirs as well.
More than 90 percent of all 9-18 year olds have viewed digital pornography. The question is not will my child see it, rather it is when will they see it. Be watching for an upcoming post on how our culture’s overexposure to digital porn is reshaping the next generation’s views of sexuality, dating, and personal relationships.
Want to learn more about how you can better help your child and realised more possible dangers that online can pose to your child?
Check out ZACHDEV – TECH PARENTING ebook today!