When Your Child Has a Porn Habit

When Your Child Has a Porn Habit

By Josh Gilman

When my wife and I were expecting our first child, she would sometimes ask me, “Do you ever get scared of raising a child in this society?” To which I always responded, “Are you kidding? As soon as our kid is born we are AMISH!”

While that was obviously a joke, the reality is that it’s often intimidating to be tasked with the wonderful responsibility of parenting in today’s culture. But we don’t have to freak out. Not even if we find out our kids have a porn habit. And I tell you this because I’m living proof of it.

I was that kid. I was the kid from a great family with loving parents who did their very best to protect me, but I still fell prey to the reality of today’s internet and ended up with a nearly crippling porn habit. By every definition of the word, I was an addict. And yet here I am to tell you that a porn habit doesn’t mean your kid’s life is over. Your dream of having a happy healthy child who can grow up to become a loving father or mother isn’t dead. Calm down, take a breath, here is what you need to know:

Don’t shame them. The first thing you need to know is that your child needs you to not freak out. The truth is that nobody enjoys porn. Yes, it fires off dopamine like crazy, and yes, their brain is demanding that they watch it again. But every person who watches it also has that uncomfortable feeling in their stomach. As violent and disturbing as today’s porn is, despite every craving, there is also shame, and when you freak out you are only falsely confirming to them that they are shameful and they are disgusting.

Use positive reinforcement. Instead of scolding, you have an opportunity to come alongside your child and say “Does porn make you uncomfortable sometimes? That’s good! That’s right! I’m proud of you for feeling that way.” As Tim Challies has said, “We have few opportunities to plead with our children, discovering their porn habit gives us one of those opportunities. To plead with them and say, out there, are people who don’t care about others. They want to use people, consume them like product, and they want you on their side. Let’s be different. Let’s fight together for love, for truth. I can help you” (2014).

Offer direction. After we’ve started the conversation, we then have the opportunity to capitalize on this moment to parent our children how we’ve always dreamed, to offer them a different way to live. For the parent of faith, you will not have a better opportunity to contrast the love and forgiveness and freedom they can experience with God versus trying to do it all on their own. For the parent who would like to live a less digitally dependant life, this is when you can seize the moment and clearly explain why you believe that trips to the grand canyon are better without cameras and selfies.

To the parent who finds out their child has a porn habit, don’t panic. You will never have a better opportunity to be the parent your child needs than at that very moment. Use it. It could change their life for good, forever.

For more ideas on this challenging subject, check out our book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography. It includes simple discussions and a RUN plan for younger kids as well as thought-provoking discussions and ideas for older kids.

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Josh Gilman is the Executive Director of Strength To Fight, a Canadian-based organization that equips men & women, boys & girls to live porn-free lives and build porn-free communities. He has told his story across the country so that many others trapped in porn addiction can change their story, and that children can have a life-story that never has pornography in it in the first place. His biggest goal is that his 3 children will grow up with a different internet than the one he grew up with.

 

Citations:

Challies, T. (2014, April 14). Help! My Kids Are Looking at Porn! Retrieved July 8, 2017 from https://www.challies.com/articles/help-my-kids-are-looking-at-porn/.