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How to talk to your kids

February is often thought about as the month of love, romance and relationships. And while, as parents, none of us want to think that our kids might be involved in porn, if they have access to the world wide web, they are being targeted to view porn. And just because this month is all about love and romance, it’s a great time to talk about teaching our kids the difference between real love, Biblical love, sacrificial love, and poor substitutes that will rob them of their dignity and morality. 

Create a Safe Place for Kids Who Struggle with Porn

Why bring up such a touchy and maybe even painful subject? Because love does not exploit others, it is sacrificial and good. And if we are raising our kids to be the kind of people who follow 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a, we must talk to our kids about pornography and teach them how to hide their hearts, minds, and souls from this devious parasite. We must also create accountability and safe people and places to go if they struggle with porn.

Love suffers long and is kind; itdoes not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ~1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a

Statistics Tell the Hard Truth About Porn Use

Think your kiddos are immune? Here are the statistics: 

  • Nearly 27% of teens receive sexts and emails and around 15% are sending them.
  • 57% of teens search out porn at least monthly
  • 51% of male students and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years.
  • The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average.
  • 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.
  • A 2016 study on Canadian adolescents showed that 45.3% admitted to problems in erectile dysfunction.
  • US youths (ages 14-18) exposed to pornography: 84:4% of males and 57% of females

You might also be shocked at the types of pornography teens are viewing:

  • 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online
  • 69% of boys and 55 % of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online
  • 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online
  • 32% of boys nad 18% of girls have seen bestiality on line 
  • 18% of boys nad 10% of girls have seen rape or sexual violence online
  • 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography online

And according to Enough.org,  “Extreme content is the new norm. Soft porn has disappeared. In 2010 the journal Violence Against Women reported physical aggression in 88.2% of leading pornography scenes and verbal aggression in 48.7%, with 94.4% of the aggression directed towards women and girls. A February 2018 headline in Esquire Magazine read, “Incest is the Fastest Growing Trend in Porn.”And according to Enough.org,  “Extreme content is the new norm. Soft porn has disappeared. In 2010 the journal Violence Against Women reported physical aggression in 88.2% of leading pornography scenes and verbal aggression in 48.7%, with 94.4% of the aggression directed towards women and girls. A February 2018 headline in Esquire Magazine read, “Incest is the Fastest Growing Trend in Porn.”

What are the effects of Pornography?

Studies have shown that kids who viewed pornography for hours each week have less gray matter in their brains than those who did not view it. 

Youth that view pornography once a month or more are at a greater risk of developing:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sexually permissive attitudes
  • Preoccupation with sex
  • Inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality
  • Unrealistic ideas about sexual relationships
  • Insecurities about body images in females and insecurities about sexual performance in males.

Furthermore, the long-term effects of porn on relationships include abuse and divorce.

Guide Your Children Well

I think we can all agree that porn is a problem. What are we supposed to do about it, short of getting rid of all electronic devices in our home? We need to start by talking to our kids about sex and pornography. Kids under ten targeted for porn is a growing issue, so don’t think that waiting until they’re in high school is a good idea. Expect that by age 12, your kids have been exposed to porn. After you have an initial age-appropriate talk with your kids about porn, develop regular check-in times where you ask open-ended questions. Give your kids time to respond, and create an ongoing conversation with them about sexuality and porn. Look, consider who they’ll talk to about sex, if not you. Again, you are their God-ordained guide. 

  • Talk about sexuality within the context of family and marriage. Define for your kids what healthy, normal, Biblical relationships are and what normal and healthy exchanges of affection are between husband and wife and others. 
  • Straightforwardly talk about sex. Get comfortable with correct terminology and be prepared for awkward questions. Your kids are exposed to global culture, and you are their best guide. 
  • Talk to your kids about what they may encounter online. Let them know that it might be scary or uncomfortable but assure them that they can always come to you and tell you about it. Let them know that others might try to share pornography with them but that they can always come to you and that they should not be embarrassed or ashamed to go and talk to a parent about this. 

Trust Your Faith to Direct Your Conversations

  • Share age-appropriate material with your kids about sex. 
  • Talk with your kids about the difference between porn and real sex. Let them know that porn is fantasy, bodies are altered, staged a certain way, and not private, but carefully curated to market well. Pornography is also ultimately selfish as it is only about satisfying one person -the viewer. Real sex requires good communication, humility and transparency and can be awkward and beautiful as a married couple negotiates their sexual relationship. Marital sex requires thinking about someone besides just yourself. 
  • Talk about consent and personal boundaries. Porn can be violent and can quickly normalize non-consensual behavior. It fuels sex trafficking and enslaves both the people working in the sex industry and viewers. It exploits the weak to feed a billion-dollar “industry.” 
  • Normalize sexual arousal and put it within the context of being created by a loving and creative God, within Christian marriage, and within the context of stewarding one’s heart, mind, and soul for a future spouse. Pornography can easily be likened to having a virtual affair with one’s now or future spouse. This view is not a guilt trip. This is a reality check. Sexuality within marriage is about accountability and covenant.

The Bible is Clear

The Bible is clear about how we are to approach sexuality as followers of a Living God in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not [helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body [c]and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Prepare for Awkward Conversations with Your Kids About Porn

While talking to our kids about porn might be awkward and uncomfortable, we must let them know that we are willing to have awkward conversations and can handle the awkwardness. It’s a challenging topic to confront but a necessary one for the sake of their hearts and minds. 

Additional Resources: 

Podcast

Communicating with our Kids about Pornography with Hal and Melanie Young Podcast

Books

Every Man’s Battle

Every Young Man’s Battle

Raising Real Men

Porn accountability

Covenant Eyes

Accountability 2You

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