Guest Post by Barb Winters from Hopefulmom.net
Thought: Not my kid is denial of facts.
Not my kid. That’s what I thought. But I was wrong. My son watched pornography. When he confessed, I felt shocked, mad, shamed, and guilty. I couldn’t turn to my friend over coffee and say, “My son watches porn. How about yours?” I searched for a support group to help me cope with my trauma, but I found none. So I suffered in silence. Alone.
But parents aren’t alone. Statistically speaking, a high percentage of parents of preteens and teens have children who have been exposed to pornography, whether accidentally or because they searched for it out of curiosity. So why aren’t we talking about it? Why don’t parents talk with each other? Why don’t parents talk to their children about the dangers of pornography?
When my son was fourteen we learned he had been watching pornography. That moment is etched in my mind as a pivotal moment—the moment my mom-life changed. I had no idea. This wasn’t even on our radar. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand how prevalent it is in today’s society.
Most parents don’t realize how easily accessible pornography is, don’t understand the dangers, or believe it’s no big deal. Therefore, they aren’t educating their children on its dangers or how to respond when they bump into it. That doesn’t make us bad parents—just uninformed ones.
My husband and I added filters to our children’s devices and updated some of our rules when we first discovered our son’s indiscretions. Unfortunately, the behavior had already seeped deep into his life, so he continued watching pornography. A year and a half later, he confessed. But this time, it was different. He wanted to change. He understood how pornography could ruin his personal life. He heard how it could follow him into his future and ruin his marriage, family, and career. He wanted to break free from its grips.
One of the reasons our son felt comfortable coming to us the second time is because we had cultivated our relationship with him. We started talking with him about pornography and its dangers. And we continued the conversation. We checked in with him regularly. We communicated how much we loved him and that we wanted to be there for him and help him through the process. We were on his side. Even though he lied to us for over a year, he understood that we cared because we kept the doors of communication open. And that made a difference.
As time passed and my son moved forward in his path to freedom, I faced my emotions. I dealt with my son’s betrayal and the ripple effects his problem had on our family. I confronted my guilt and walked through the grieving process. And I came to terms with the fact that my son was a different person than I thought he was.
While there is no “end” to a porn addiction—my son will battle the pull for the rest of his life—his struggle and subsequent freedom strengthened our relationship. I respect him and love him more than ever. I appreciate who He is, including all his strengths and weaknesses. I accept him in his fullness. I look forward to the path God has for him and his future.
As I healed, I felt a desire to help other parents. I didn’t want any other parent to feel as I had—lonely. I struggled with thoughts of inadequacy and insecurity. I thought I had broken my child and, outside of one friend who lived out of state, wasn’t able to tell anyone about my or my son’s problems. Eventually, I started hopefulmom.net. The site offers hope, support, encouragement and practical advice to parents of children who have been exposed to pornography.
My desire for you, parents, is that you will:
· understand the prevalence of pornography in today’s world and learn about its ramifications so you can, in turn, educate your children.
· help break the stigma surrounding society’s views of children who watch pornography
· find a safe place to express your emotions, either with a trusted friend or in a community
· talk with your children, beginning at an early age, about pornography and its dangers
There is Hope
If we educate our children, they will say, “No” to pornography. We can reverse the effects that pornography has had on our children and our society. There is no quick fix. Parenting is a long-term endeavor. But when we nurture the relationship we have with our children, walk by their side, and continue to communicate that we love them and are there for them, they can heal. And so can we.
I invite you to subscribe at hopefulmom.net for a FREE PDF: 7 Actions When Your Child Has Seen Porn.
Question: Do you have open conversations with your children about pornography?
1. Evaluate what you think of people who watch pornography, especially children.
2. Research the dangers of pornography. Begin by reading The Glass Between Us by Jason and Lisa Frost.
3. Practice talking about pornography by standing in front of the mirror and saying it over and over until it becomes comfortable.
4. Talk with your children. This conversation will look different depending on the age of your children. If they are preteens or teens, you may start by asking, “What do you know about pornography?”
Barb Winters Bio:
Barb Winters lives in FL, is a wife and parent of four children, is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, and loves writing, photography, playing games with her family, and going to the beach. She is a facilitator at E3 Family Solutions and helps parents of children struggling with pornography.
Contact Barb at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at Difficult Conversations
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