If you missed Part One of this important message, please read it first (link). I shared the first five points including the need for prayer and possibly an apology, and what that might look like. I explained how important it is to identify with your child’s struggle in some way. We’ve all seen porn, and we all know what shame feels like. It’s important also to continually affirm your child’s worth, no matter what they may do, and to connect deeply in a variety of ways to nurture his or her heart. Once you’ve worked to create fertile ground for honest dialogue, prayerfully enter into needed conversations. Don’t expect too much too soon. Earn trust by handling a sensitive topic with gentleness, compassion, and grace.

Today’s post focuses on some practical steps you can take to engage with a son or daughter who may be addicted to or using porn.

I’ll use he and she interchangeably because both girls and boys can struggle with porn use.

6. Listen well

Ask good questions, but then listen well without becoming defensive. When did he first see porn? How did it make him feel? When did he realize it was a real struggle? How is it impacting his life now? What would he like you to know but has been afraid to share? Hear his stories and don’t express shock or anger at what you hear. Our world is very sexualized, much more so than when you were younger. The porn of today is violent, degrading, obscene, and harmful. It’s likely he’s seen porn that went beyond just one man and one woman having sex. He may feel confused about the feelings porn gave him. All porn is arousing, even gay porn. It doesn’t mean he’s gay, bisexual, or perverted. Give him a safe place to express himself without being judged or talked down to. And if he shares about his friends and what they’re doing, remember, they’re his friends. Don’t put them down. Affirm the courage he exhibits by even talking with you about this. It’s not easy. And this bears repeating: listen well. You’ll know better how to pray, and God will guide you on what to share and when to share it.

7. You can’t fix this

Don’t offer solutions when you don’t really have a clue, and be careful not to share pat responses like “You need to pray more,” or “Have more faith.” Though these are important, she’s likely tried both and such suggestions may only affirm the “failure” status she’s given herself. Porn creates neurological pathways that require time to heal. It will take hard work and commitment, and you can’t do it for her. If you haven’t already, install filters on all the devices to block mature sites, and be her ally in this important but tough battle. Share how deeper intimacy with God and time in confession, prayer, and God’s Word has changed your life. Pray for her fervently and encourage her, but leave the outcome to God.

8. Ask how you can help

If she wants you to hold her accountable, talk about what that would look like, keep affirming her desire to move forward, and refuse to further shame her. Covenant Eyes has articles to read together and a “40 Day Challenge.” They have filtering and monthly monitoring, an important safeguard for your entire family, for only $14.99/month for all devices. It’s incredibly cheap insurance, and the reports will give you new ways to talk about your family’s values. Be Broken Ministries has a “40 Day E-Course.” In addition, counseling may be helpful for one or both of you. GROW Counseling has several Atlanta locations. Christian Families Today offers counseling south of the city. NewLife has a national Christian counselor referral service. Establishing good family rules for online activity is important. Maintaining passwords, turning in devices at night, etc., can help keep the temptation at bay, but true freedom will require a heart change, so pray for that. Porn addiction among college students is common, so do all you can to address it now.

9. Educate yourself and work on your own stuff

You may not be familiar with porn addiction, or how one finds freedom from bondage to it. Then again, you might understand the struggle firsthand and desire freedom from it yourself. If speaking about sexual issues is difficult for you, get counseling or confide in a trusted friend for encouragement. For resources on this topic check out TrueNorth and Covenant Eyes. Fight the New Drug is targeted to a younger audience and focuses on the physiological and social impact of porn. If your marriage is struggling, make that a priority through counseling or intentional time with your spouse.

10. Trust God with your child

Remember some of the stupid things you did as a teenager? I’m pretty sure God was able to use those bad choices to teach you good lessons. What the enemy means for evil, God can use for good. A struggle with porn keeps one isolated and living in shame and secrecy, unknown and disconnected from others – including God, friends, and family. But a struggle with porn can also help your child grow in awareness, honesty, openness, connection, and meaningful relationships. He can learn to recognize needs and weakness and how to turn toward safe people and God. These are skills that will serve him so well in life. You can trust God to redeem this hard struggle, and your prayers, encouragement, and presence in your child’s life can be a powerful means of God’s grace to him.

 

If you’ve found this insightful, please share it by e-mail or Facebook. Porn addiction is a growing problem among children, teens, adults, and even older adults. As we normalize conversations about a common struggle, more will find true freedom. We would love to hear your story and pray for you. E-mail me at annek@truenorthfp.org

Anne Kerr

Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia

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Photo credit: Tamara Bellis