Marta is a mother who called me desperate some time ago. There was anguish and despair in her voice. Between sobs I could hear: “I am a failure as a mother.” “I do not know what I’m doing wrong”. “My son is addicted to pornography and he is my fault.” After reassuring her and asking her to explain what was happening, she was able to tell me about her experience.
Her son is 13 years old. He has been throughout the pandemic receiving online classes via Zoom from his home. The mother was initially able to stay with him at home to supervise him, but after two months of isolation, she had to return to work. So her son stayed home taking his classes online.
At first, the teenager commented that he was very happy to receive the online classes. However, it seems that as time passes and he realizes the complexity of his situation; him from not being able to play with his friends; Besides how boring it was to take classes this way; he began to reject the classes via Zoom. To the point that he didn’t want to get out of bed and preferred to stay in bed for most of the morning.
But, everything took another course when his son shared his situation with a classmate, and he was waiting for what he did so as not to get bored: seeing a man and a woman having sex. Pornography.
Immediately, the boy began to visit web pages with pornographic content. Thus, while in one window of his computer he had Zoom open, in the other he was watching pornography.
Marta realized what was happening when one day I couldn’t go to work and I entered her son’s room without warning. She could see in horror what she was doing as she listened to her teacher give the class. Furious and outraged, she turned off the computer and began beating the teenager for it.
Her son, who was also confused and ashamed, did nothing but tell him that he would not do it anymore. All at the same time that her mother took her anger and frustration out of her on him. One day after this incident, Marta calls me and says, “I am a failure as a mother,” and she proceeds to tell me her story as well as questioning whether she acted correctly.
In 2015, C.S Mott Children’s Hospital National Chicken n Children’s Health said that cybersecurity ranks fourth among the most worrisome issues children see today. According to ToTenreviews.com, the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
Also, according to LDSLiving.com, 79% of young people who were intentionally exposed to pornography were exposed from their homes. As we can see, these statistics are alarming.
So this issue is an epidemic that we need to talk about more often. And it is that sooner or later the parents will face a situation similar to the story of Marta. The question is: What should a parent do if his / her child is looking at pornography?
Mistakes Parents Make When Their Children View Pornography
Many parents make the following mistakes when they realize that their sons or daughters have been exposed to pornographic content:
Using shame as punishment: A large majority of parents believe that shaming their children because they are watching pornographic material is a good mechanism to get them to change their behavior. But studies prove the opposite. Children who are embarrassed may eventually come to see themselves as bad people. It instead of verse as what they are, good people who made wrong decisions. This shame even leads children to hide their behavior and not receive the help they need in this situation.
Take away your children’s access to technology: While we believe that setting limits and punishments is very important in raising minors, it is imperative to also understand that we need to be sensitive to cyber culture. The one in which our children were born. Taking away all access to technology can result in your isolation. Therefore, this solution can become a problem, because the opposite of addiction is disconnection with your environment.
Seeing yourself as a failure: In my therapies I meet parents who base their identity according to the success they perceive as parents. They view their children’s negative behavior as a reflection of their ability as father and mother figures. But the truth is that the negative actions of your children do not define who you are as a parent.
Make assumptions: The first thing Marta, the mother in today’s story, did was assume the worst in her son. It was said: “My son is addicted to pornography, he is going to become a sexual predator. It will be a failure in life.
All these negative reactions rather than helping your son or daughter understand the consconsequences of his negative decisions, what they will do is distance him from you, and close the door of communication.
If your son / daughter perceives that he cannot talk to you about his struggles in life … who do you think is going to educate him on the subject of his sexuality? Sadly his friends and the internet will take the place that a father should occupy in the education of his children.
What can a parent do if their child watches pornography?
Handle the situation with grace and truth: Instead of Marta pulling her hair and looking like a failure, she can handle the situation with grace and truth. What does this mean? That the father, instead of losing control and exploding with anger, can control himself and invite his son to pray.
I know you are thinking that the least you want to do is invite your child to pray when you want to scream and beat him up. But when you invite your child to pray with you and then to talk about it, you are inviting him to have a dialogue on an embarrassing topic, both for the parents and the children.
As long as you keep the lines of communication open with your child, you will have the hope of influencing his life, so that he can make better decisions. What to talk about? Ask your child open-ended questions. Such as: Since when is he looking at pornography? How does he feel about it? What do you think should be his punishment for his negative choices?
Present the truth with love: Explain to your child with love that pornography literally alters our brain, producing dissensitization and affecting the personality. Sex was created by God and it is a good and positive thing. But pornography helps to misrepresent God’s truth about man’s sexuality. The decisions we make create direction. We cannot erase images with pornographic content that we store from our minds. Your decisions affect your destiny.
Help your child understand that he / she is not the problem: The problem is pornography. Viewing pornography as the problem and not having your child will allow you to handle the situation more efficiently. Since the problem is pornography and not your child, you must together with him seek a solution to the problem (pornography). Encourage them to think of ways to stay safe. Answers may include:
- Avoid using keywords that lead to these types of images.
- Update security levels on devices.
- Keep devices in public places.
- Avoid friends, relatives, and neighbors who view pornography.
- Have regular conversations about what your son or daughter sees.
Remember how God treats you as a parent when you make a mistake. God treats you with grace, love, and compassion. When he met the adulterous woman, he did not shame her, but stood by her side, pouring out her grace. That is the call that God makes of us as parents.
Treat your creatures the same way He treats us. God is committed to helping you save your child. You are not alone in this task. If you follow God’s plan, he will help you educate your child for Eternity.
If you need help in this area, do not hesitate to contact me at 4076180212. Similarly, if you have any comments or questions on this topic, you can do so in the comments section below.