PORN – What’s a Parent to Do?

When I was in second grade, my best friend showed me her dad’s giant stash of Playboy magazines neatly stacked on the garage shelf. She gingerly pulled a couple of issues down to sneak into her bedroom for closer examination. We crawled onto her bed, giggling and laughing as we turned each page with Chuck Berry’s  My Ding-A-Ling playing in the background.

Forty years later, after discovering Christian sex blogs that opened my eyes, I went exploring for information about a specific response using my trusted friend GOOGLE. Several videos immediately popped up to answer my questions and offer multiple gateways into the world of porn. Each click enticed me to watch more, until I finally had to slam my laptop shut in a tangle of feelings.

The world has drastically changed in 40 years.

Actually, the world has drastically changed in 10 years.

Porn has changed from sleek posed photos,to live streaming video that changes at the click of a mouse, to a portable screen available every moment of the day. It is a common occurrence for kids to use their phone to view porn on their bus ride home, regardless of whether they attend secular or Christian schools.

Preventing our kids from viewing porn is no longer a realistic goal.

We must seek to minimize the damage resulting from porn exposure.

In order to minimize the damage – we need to do 3 things…

  • Prepare Ourselves
  • Equip Our Kids
  • Guard the Gateways

Prepare Ourselves

The best way to minimize the power of porn, is to bring the darkness to the light. We have to create a safe place for our kids to talk about ANYTHING – even what they have seen on the internet. Rather than shame them, or embarrass them, we must empathize with how hard it is to live in this world. Provide answers and communicate the importance of steering clear.

Kids are taught to GOOGLE what they don’t know or understand. If sheltered Christian kids don’t feel safe coming to you for answers, then GOOGLE provides plenty of answers. If your 10-year-old asked, “What is a blow job?” Would they sense that you are uncomfortable or embarrassed? Could you answer the question without freaking out?

We have to get comfortable, I mean really comfortable, talking about sex. Most of us did not grow up this way. In fact, most of us had minimal messages about sex from our family, friends or church. We have to turn this around. We have to not just talk about how babies are made, but about what an amazing gift sex is to strengthen marriage. Our kids need to know that waiting for sex is totally worth it.  One of the great side benefits of taking an Awaken-Love class is getting comfortable talking about sex.

Most of us don’t talk about sex with our spouse, we just have sex. If you cannot talk to your spouse about sex, how are you going to talk to your kids? Can you talk to your spouse about masturbation? Do you know what the bible does and doesn’t say about masturbation? Can you talk to your spouse about Porn? Do you know what the bible says? Prepare yourself to talk to your kids by creating open communication with your spouse and embrace the opportunity to make your sex life even better.

Equip your kids

Talking to your kids needs to  be a constant conversation that is as normal as talking about eating healthy food. We need to start when they are curious preschoolers, gently walk with our  awkward junior highers, and build up our budding adults.   Our kids need to know and understand their own body and they need to value and respect it, instead of feeling embarrassed or dirty.

Every conversation should start with an affirmation – for their curiosity, their courage, or honesty. And every conversation must end with, “I am so glad you talked to me. You can come talk to me about anything. “

Embrace every opportunity to not only speak about the dangers of porn, but about what a gift sex is in marriage. Share what you have learned about the impact of baggage on a sex life, but also how God can heal us and redeem us from even sexual sin.

One of the best resources to help equip you and your kids is the website Protect Young Eyes. The site will help you stay current on the dangers of specific apps, chat rooms or social media sites. They also offer a free ebook called Parent Tech Talks. The book addresses different ages of life with prompts to practice handling difficult situations that might occur with technology.

The best way to protect older kids is to keep the communication lines open. That means you have to create a judgement free zone where there is no shame, no embarrassment and no limits to what they can ask. You can share what the bible says, what you have learned from life experiences and offer grace and compassion because this is a hard world to grow up in.

Guard the Gateways

There are many different gateways to encounter porn, including phones, gaming stations, roku, computers and ipads. You can install filters on your internet as well as on individual devices- Protect Young Eyes has a guide for different options. Filters will help but if a teen wants to get around them, I am guessing they will.

One of the most important things we can do to guard gateways is to model and incorporate some very practical ways to disconnect from technology.

  • We would never let our kids take alcohol or drugs into their bedroom. Why would we let them take their iphone? Some households keep phones in public places by not allowing them in a closed bedroom.
  • Not much good happens on phones after 10 pm, so some families enforce a 10 pm charging station plug in.
  • Another common gateway is the phone of your kids friends. Some families ask that when visitors come, both the guest and the host deposit their phones in a public basket. Not only does the practice protect kids from porn or sexting, but it encourages other healthy interactions.

These phone rules might seem crazy, especially if the rules apply to you too, but how serious are you about protecting your kids, and yourself. Setting up healthy boundaries and reducing opportunities at some strategic times could make a huge statement

Educating our kids about the dangers of porn is an opportunity to change how the church has handled sex for years. Let’s begin talking about sex in good and healthy ways to not only protect them, but to help them have a great sex life in marriage.

Prepare yourself, Equip your kids and Guard the Gateways.

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