Marta is a mother who called me some time ago. There was anguish and despair in her voice. Between sobs I could hear: “I am a failure as a mother,” “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” “My son is addicted to pornography and it’s 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 receiving online classes via Zoom at home throughout the pandemic. 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 while her son stayed home taking his classes online.
Clues for the mother whose child was looking pornography
At first, the teenager commented that he was very happy to receive the online classes. However, it seems that as time passed, and he realized the complexity of his situation: not being able to play with his friends and feeling that online classes were boring. He began to reject the Zoom classes, to the point that he preferred to stay in bed for most of the morning.
But, things took another turn when her son shared his situation with a classmate, and was waiting for the activity that kept him from being bored — seeing a man and a woman having sex. Pornography.
Immediately, the boy began to visit web pages with pornographic content. Thus, while he had Zoom open in one window on his computer, in the other, he was watching pornography.
Marta realized what was happening when one day when she couldn’t go to work and entered her son’s room without warning. She watched what he was doing in horror as she listened to the teacher giving 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 say he would not do it anymore, as the mother took her anger and frustration out on him. One day after this incident, Marta called me and said, “I am a failure as a mother,” and she proceeded to tell me her story, and questioned whether she acted correctly.
Statistics about children and pornography
In 2015, C.S Mott Children’s Hospital said that cybersecurity ranks fourth among the most worrisome issues for children today. According to TopTenReviews.com, the average age of the first exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
Also, according to LDSLiving.com, 79 percent 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. Sooner or later, other parents will face a situation similar to Marta’s story. The question is: What should a parent do if his / her child is looking at pornography?
When Their Children are looking 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 for watching pornographic material is a good way 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, rather than good people who made wrong decisions. This shame even leads children to hide their behavior instead of getting the help they need in this situation.
Taking away the 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 modern online culture, the one our children were born into. Taking away all access to technology can result in isolation. Therefore, this solution can become a problem because the opposite of addiction is being disconnected from your environment.
Seeing yourself as a failure
In my therapy sessions, I meet parents who base their identity on their perceived success as parents. They view their children’s negative behavior as a reflection of their ability as mother or father figures. But the truth is that your children’s negative actions not define you are as a parent.
The first thing Marta, the mother in today’s story, did was assume the worst about her son. She said: “My son is addicted to pornography, he is going to become a sexual predator. He will be a failure in life.”
These negative reactions don’t help your son or daughter understand the consequences of their negative decision. What they will do is distance him/her from you, and close the door of communication.
If your son / daughter believes they cannot talk to you about their struggles in life, who do you think is going to educate them about their sexuality? Sadly. Friends and the internet will take the place that a father should occupy.
What can a parent do if their child watches pornography?
Rather than pulling out her hair and feeling like a failure, Marta should handle the situation with grace and truth. What does this mean? Instead of losing control and exploding with anger, she can control herself and invite her son to pray.
I know you are thinking that the last thing you want to do is invite your child to pray when you want to scream at them and beat them up. But when you invite your child to pray with you and to talk about it, you are inviting them to have a dialogue about a topic that is embarrassing for both the parents and children.
Communication is key
As long as you keep the lines of communication open with your child, there is hope of influencing their life to help them make better decisions. What should you talk about? Ask your child open-ended questions, such as: How long have you been looking at pornography? How do you feel about it? What do you think should be the punishment for this negative choice?
Present the truth with love
Explain to your child with love that pornography literally alters our brain, desensitizes, and affects the personality. Sex was created by God, and it is a good and positive thing. But pornography misrepresents 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 your child will allow you to handle the situation more efficiently. Since the problem is pornography and not your child, you must seek a solution to the problem together.
Actions to avoid pornography
Encourage them to think of ways to stay safe. Solutions 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 watches.
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 grace. That is the call that God makes of us as parents.
Treat your children 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 write them in the comments section below.