Pornography. It’s not something any of us enjoy talking about. It brings shame, awkward feelings and honestly we would rather sweep it under the rug.
Do you feel prepared to have an ongoing conversation with your kid about the reality and consequences of pornography? Because of porn’s prevalence and power our pre-teens and teens are seeing and hearing about porn more often than we would like to admit.
“Are you saying my kid is looking at porn?” That’s exactly what I’m saying. And so are the experts.
One third of the entire internet is porn. Another way to say that is 33% of all websites are pornographic. Internet pornography has more views than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined. The average age of exposure to porn is age 9. Here’s the real kicker: 90% of all teenagers ages 12-17 have been exposed to hardcore porn, and once they’ve been exposed, many keep coming back. It’s not a matter of if they’ll be exposed to porn, but when.
Porn is a problem all of our teenagers are dealing with on some level because of the world we live in. It’s our job as parents to be prepared to have the conversation, pay attention to signs of use, and help set boundaries and standards in our family. We need to lead the way in integrity and purity because our children will follow our lead.
Okay, but how do I actually talk to my middle school or high school student about porn?
1. Be Open
You should start the conversation earlier than you think. And it can’t be a one off bird and the bees talk. It needs to be an ongoing open and honest conversation about healthy sexaulity versus its hollow counterfits. It may be awkward in the beginning but when you bring it up often it becomes easier and more effective.
Prepare yourself with what you’re going to say. We’ve provided a guide with more detailed facts and answers below. When you’re having the conversations be sure to take your time, find the right place, and make it a one on one conversation.
Part of my story is that my parents never talked to me about porn, and I had to fight against it on my own. It was a difficult journey, and I wish my parents were bold enough to be open and honest about the issue. When surveyed most students feel similarly. Your child wants you to talk about it but you have to be bold enough to be open.
2. Be Loving
The tone you set will determine the effectiveness of the conversation. It’s easy to be accusatory, condemning or judgemental when talking with your child about porn. This will get you nowhere. Instead we need to set a tone of love, understanding, and acceptance. This is the only way your teen will want to talk about the issue honestly and seek help.
This conversation will be difficult for them. They may respond with disgust, defensiveness, or silence. These are all normal responses to cover shame and fear. The goal is for them to respond with honesty. This will happen with patience and love.
Try to avoid asking questions that are leading or passive aggressive. Instead try asking concrete questions like “When did this start? When and where do you use most often? What can I do to help you stop?”
3. Be In Their Corner
Once you discover if porn is or is not a problem for your teen what you do next is crucial. We want to set them up for success in having a biblical and healthy sexuality. Let them know they can always come to you and talk to you about this problem.
Once you’ve established open communication help them fight porn on the front end. Think through some important questions such as:
Does my family have internet filters and accountability?
I would highly recommend a software like Covenant Eyes which blocks sites and gives you a list of every site your child visits.
How much time does my child spend on their phone alone? Do you know what they are doing on social media? What kind of text messages is my child sending/receiving?
It’s easy to access porn through Instagram, Snapchat, and other forms of social media. Help your child understand these weaknesses and be in the fight with them so they can avoid exposure to porn. Do whatever it takes to rid this from your family and their life.
Your child needs to know you are in their corner and in the fight with them. This issue is to big for any of us to fight it on our own. Especially your teenager.
My hope is your family would thrive in all the good things God desires for you. He wants you to be free from all the things (like porn) which would cause you harm and destruction. He has promised you hope, joy, and freedom. As we study through John I think often of John 1:4-5. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This article is only the tip of the iceberg for how to help our teens deal with the issue of pornography. If you want to dig deeper check out this guide on how to address pornography with your children from Fight The New Drug. Also, we are in this fight with you. If you need help or have any questions you can contact Jacob.