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10/28/13 at 03:13 PM 0 Comments

5 Mistakes Parents Make When it Comes to Talking About Porn

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By Luke Gilkerson

We spoke to a pastor the other day who felt simply devastated. He has recently discovered that his 13-year-old son has not only been exposed to porn but has been looking at it for several years. A thousand questions are filling his mind right now. How could he not see this was going on? How could he and his wife be so blind? How could they not be more careful about the Internet in their house?

He considers himself a proactive parent, and yet didn’t know about this secret in his son’s life. He wants to be a model parent for the members of his church, but right now he feels like crawling into a hole and hiding.

Many conversations with his son are on the horizon, but when he spoke with us he wanted to make sure he did these conversations in the best way possible.

Here are five ways parents typically botch up talking to their kids about porn.

 

1. Not talking about it at all

The first and biggest mistake is silence. Your child was created by God as a sexual being, and it is your job to give them the best possible information about the purpose of sexual desire. Because of the oversexed society we live in, the consequences of avoiding conversations about porn are simply too great.

Research shows that when adolescents are comfortable talking about sexuality with their parents, and when parents are proactive in teaching their children about sex, teens are far less likely to have early sexual intercourse and more likely to talk with their parents about important issues in their lives.

2. Not preparing before talking

Realizing that your child has been accessing porn repeatedly can be frightening, upsetting, and unnerving. If you find out your child is watching pornography, your gut reaction might be to speak to them immediately. Don’t. Take a day or two to figure out what you need to say.

If at all possible, delay having the conversation. If you find out on Tuesday that your child has accessed pornography, there’s no harm in waiting until Thursday or Friday to talk with them. You need time to process what you need to say and how you need to say it. Take time to rehearse what you need to say and pray God will give you a redemptive attitude.

3. Not listening to your child’s heart

There are many reasons why a child or teen begins looking at porn. When talking to your child about this subject, no matter what, don’t lose sight of the person sitting across from you. When you ask him or her a question, don’t be quick to fill the awkward silence with your voice. Give your son or daughter time to respond. Constantly remind yourself to hold your tongue and give your child space to talk.

Listen with a compassionate heart. Don’t use silence as a means to “glare down” at your child in disappointment. Let your eyes communicate tenderness. Listen to your child’s questions, curiosities, insecurities, lusts, guilt, shame, or emotions. Get raw, uncensored responses.

Remember: this conversation is not ultimately about porn; it is about you getting to know your child. This initial conversation is about unearthing your child’s motivations for viewing pornography.

4. Not monitoring Internet use

Knowing exactly what your child has accessed and when can be very helpful. The more knowledge you have, the less ambiguous the conversation will be.

Learn how to check the browsing history of any Internet device in the home. Know how to check any browsing apps on mobile devices as well. If you have Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability, you should have access to an un-erasable log of information such as search terms that were used, videos that were watched, and websites that were accessed. Take note of what they are and when they were accessed.

The goal of this knowledge is not to say “Gotcha!” When you question your child about what they were looking at and why, you are likely to hear the phrase like, “I don’t know” a few dozen times. Having this conversation will probably be very difficult for your son or daughter. The more information you can volunteer, the less of a burden he or she will have explaining everything to you from start to finish. “I noticed you were searching for ____,” you might say. “What made you curious about that?”

5. Not talking about the goodness of sex

Sex on screen only cheapens the goodness of sex. Viewing porn needs to be contrasted with the the good gift of sex as God has made it.

  • Porn is selfish; sex is giving. When you watch porn, you are at the center of the fantasy. But having sex in a loving manner is about both receiving and giving pleasure. You don’t want to train your mind to see the opposite sex as a thing to be used rather than a person to be loved.
  • Porn bonds you to an image; sex bonds you with a person. You are physically and emotionally wired for intimacy. That’s why God made sex so pleasurable, because it bonds a man and woman together. But when we lust after pornography, we are bonding to those images, not to a person.
  • Porn is abusive; marital sex is nourishing. What you don’t see when you watch pornography is what it’s like when the camera stops recording: the world of drugs, alcohol, abuse, and brokenness. By watching pornography, we only give incentive to those who abuse these women to keep doing it.
  • Porn dishonors God; marital sex honors Him. God has told us His will for us is to abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God will judge the sexually immoral and the adulterers because He wants the marriage bed kept pure (Hebrews 13:4). As a young man/woman of faith, don’t dishonor Him with your body by filling your mind with images of sin.

Get Equipped: Download the Free E-Book

Good parents will not talk about sex with their child one time. It will be an ongoing conversation. But all good conversations have to begin somewhere. That’s why we wrote our new guide for parents: When Your Child is Looking at Porn: A Step-By-Step Guide for Christian Parents.

In this guide you’ll get answers to questions like:

  • Why is this conversation even necessary?
  • Won’t this conversation awaken more sexual curiosity in them too early?
  • What if I’ve never spoken with my child about anything sexual?
  • What’s the difference between “using” porn and being “addicted” to porn?
  • How should I talk about this if my child hasn’t even hit puberty yet?
  • What if my teen is addicted to porn?
  • How should I protect my son or daughter from future exposure?
  • What if I confront them, and they deny it?
  • Should this all take place in one discussion?
  • What if my son or daughter just emotionally shuts down during the discussion?
  • Should I punish my child for looking at porn?
  • What if I have a history of looking at porn? What should I share with my child?
  • Is it best for mom or dad do this talk?
  • When and how should I talk about masturbation?
  • How can I use the Bible to teach my child about sex?

Download the free guide now.


Luke Gilkerson is the general editor and primary author of the Covenant Eyes blog. Luke has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Bowling Green State University and is working on an MA in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary. Luke and his wife Trisha are the proud parents of four sons. Luke and Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).