Help! My kid views pornography!
This year celebrates my 13th year in full-time ministry. Since entering the ministry, I’ve had a lot of parents ask me questions especially since 10 of those years were in youth ministry. The most common issue over the past 7-8 years has consistently been about pornography addiction. I’ve also seen a sharp increase in these questions relating to females viewing pornography. Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that this isn’t just a “guy problem” anymore. Some say pornography isn’t harmful. I think you should read this info: Fight the New Drug.
Parents continually say, “My son/daughter is addicted to pornography. What do I do?” While recovering from addiction is typically a long process, and degrees of addictive behavior vary in seriousness, viewing pornography even occasionally is damaging. So how do we address this? What do we do next? Here are some first steps for your next conversation:
Dads, you have the perfect opportunity to build a deeper relationship AND equip them to move beyond the shame of addiction. Addiction thrives in darkness, and so the more you can bring to light the better. How do you do that? If you’ve struggled with a pornography addiction of your own, now is the time to share that with your son. The fear might be, “They’ll think less of me!” The opposite is true. By being honest, you’re earning trust and bringing the struggle out of darkness. I’d suggest reading “Every Young Man’s Battle” together and talking about each chapter. Talking about the topic only appears to be “lame” if you are closed off and make it all about them. If you haven’t dealt with pornography addiction, talk about the struggle for purity with looking, thought life, etc.
The same is true for you as well. Be honest and open. I will say that you’ll need to be extra careful not to imply shame or “dirtiness.” While this might not be a struggle for you, it is for more and more teenage girls. I used to think that girls viewed pornography simply out of “emotional” needs, but from my own discovery in ministry, this is changing. Girls said their motivation was the same as guys–lust. Here are a couple of book suggestions for you:
Mother/Son or Father/Daughter-
If a father is present and active in the relationship, talking about pornography is something I’d leave to him. Guys relate better to guys talking about this. If you’re in a single parent situation, I would suggest setting boundaries (I’ll share below) and ask for a male youth leader/pastor/mentor to have the conversation and begin the dialog. Mother’s want to help (and should), but this is a very sensitive issue for guys/girls, so it needs to be handled with care. The same is true for single parent dads with daughters.
The elephant in many rooms is talking about masturbation when talking about pornography. Many parents do not want to address this topic, and it is somehow even more sensitive. However, you need to dive into the subject of masturbation when talking about pornography addiction. Women, don’t be fooled either. In the same way, female pornography use is rising, so is female masturbation. I know young adult pastors that are dealing with masturbation addiction equally in men & women who are coming out of high school. Whatever your views on masturbation, this needs to be addressed as well. At a minimum, masturbation should not happen with pornography use. At a maximum, don’t just say that you should never masturbate again because it’s weird or gross. Find a safe way to talk about masturbation.
The end goal is for students to learn how to make wise decisions. They should be learning how to say no to pornography and temptation as a whole. Just removing all references by setting extreme boundaries doesn’t teach long-term decision making. Boundaries should compliment teaching on good decision making. Here are some limits I suggest.
- Set a parental lock on adult content on their phone/tablet. Here are detailed instructions: iOS, Android
- Use a service like Circle to set time limits, block apps, or time. CircleGo (you can purchase within the app) takes your restrictions everywhere they go and beyond wifi. Make sure to turn off proxies (learn more)
- Use a service like Bark to monitor accounts. Bark monitors cyberbullying, cussing, suicidal conversations, adult content, etc. Get 10% off when you use my link.
- If you have a family computer, put it in a public room.
- If they charge their phone in their room at night, move it to your room. Get them an alarm clock. One of the advantages of using Bark and Circle is that we don’t have to worry about this.
Are you dealing with pornography addiction too? Use the settings above. I use them, and they work great for me. My wife has all of the passwords and account controls to modify or disable.