Information for Parents
As a parent, you can prevent pornography use and addiction in your children based on the following:
- Your ability to teach your children to have an internal filter. Parents can install internet filters and physically monitor their children, but children need to be able to make healthy choices when they are in situations where content filters or adults are not monitoring their behavior.
- Your effectiveness in teaching your children who they are and their individual worth. When children know that they are someone whom others love and respect, they are more resilient to negative influences.
- Your effectiveness in educating your children about pornography use and addiction. Children need to understand that, although pornography may seem exciting and interesting, it is showing lies about the true nature of our sexuality. It shows disrespect for healthy relationships.
- Your awareness and understanding of the basic facts about pornography use and addiction – how to safeguard against pornography, how to recognize signs of addiction, and how to find help and recovery from addiction.
You need to remember that children as young as 6 or 7 years old may be exposed to pornography. If you have a teenager, it is pretty safe to say that he or she has been exposed to pornography. It is also safe to assume that he or she can find a way to access pornography, if they want to. Early on, you need to begin education so that you and your children are regularly talking together.
- Have all home computers and other devices with internet access in public areas only, and have effective monitoring and filtering systems installed. Parents need to regularly check the History tab, to review internet sites accessed.
- No computer or phone use in bedrooms. At night, personal phones are handed to parents for recharging.
- Regular family discussions – the first one starts with, “I remember the first time I saw pornography, what was yours?” Discuss how to avoid exposure, how to deal with suggestive images, ideas, and words that you may have heard or seen, and how to keep your mind from flashing back or dwelling on these images.
- Have a weekly Young Warrior’s Club meeting where you talk with your children and teens about what challenges they faced this week and how they responded to these challenges (some common challenges are bullying, pornography, being rude to others, friends talking or acting in ways that are hurtful, lying, cheating).
- Have ongoing, age-appropriate talks about sexuality.
- Teach your children self regulation techniques – how to “crash” a computer when something inappropriate comes on the screen, what to do and say when a friend has pornography, and how to deal with natural curiosity about pornography.
- Read Jill Manning’s book, What’s the Big Deal About Pornography so that you will have clear answers about why pornography use is so dangerous.
- View Dr. Jason Carrol’s video titled Safe Guarding Teens and Young Adults from Pornography
Signs of Addiction
Even pre-teen children can become addicted to pornography. Because their bodies and brains are still forming, pre-teens and teens are very susceptible to addiction. (Note: these actions may be signs of something other than addiction.)
Compulsivity: Continuing to access pornography, despite attempts to stop and the negative effect it is having on yourself and others. Breaking promises to self and/or others to not access pornography. (This is the most important sign.)
Preoccupation or obsession: Pornography use becomes a very loud voice in your head. Thinking about pornography keeps crowding out healthy thoughts about family, school and friends. This results in social withdrawal as well as anger, depression, and being critical, hostile, and judgmental. It is common for someone to be “throwing away” family relationships, friends, school, and extracurricular activities.
Tolerance: Pornography use creates a hunger for more pornography. It also creates a desire for viewing things that once would have been too perverse or warped to even consider viewing. Many people consider pornography the gateway drug to other drugs. It is common for someone to start using tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
Healing from Addiction
The key to a child’s healing and recovery is a relationship based on honesty and love with their parents.
As parents develop a trusting relationship with their children and gain an understanding based on proper education, they will understand how to work with their child without enabling or shaming them.
Pornography addiction is a complex behavioral addiction – there are spiritual, social, emotional, and physical components, each of which must be addressed. As with all other addictions, it cannot be conquered through willpower or repentance alone.
In order to heal from the spiritually damaging aspects of this addiction, it is important for parents and child to meet with a trusted spiritual leader
To heal from the socially damaging aspects of this addiction, participation in group therapy or a 12-step group by both parent and child is helpful.
To recover from the emotionally damaging aspects of the addiction, both parent and child should participate in counseling with a qualified counselor.
Education about this addiction and about the complexities of recovery is essential. Both the parent and the child need to gain a solid understanding of the damage that pornography causes and the necessary steps for recovery.
Information for Spiritual Leaders
First and foremost, an individual who is struggling with pornography use must recognize that they need to be in charge of their own recovery. Without a yearning desire to break free from the addiction it will not happen.
The Importance of Honest Communication
Individuals who are struggling with pornography use will often attempt to hide this struggle from their ecclesiastical leaders. Deep shame drives people into hiding, and in hiding the addiction thrives. When an ecclesiastical leader holds a person accountable for honest, transparent, and regular communication about their struggles and addictive behaviors, the individual is strengthened and their resolve is magnified.
The path of recovery will always involve slipping and set-backs. During such times the importance of honest communication is vital to continued forward progress on the path of recovery.