There is a great need for parents, siblings, and teachers to protect our children and teens from pornography. This problem is affecting hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, and we’re not talking about it enough. While pornography kills love, love can kill porn. Children are less likely to view porn if they feel loved, secure, and informed.
“Pornography can cause shame, deceit, distorted feelings, loss of self-control, overwhelming addiction, and total consumption of time, thought, and energy.”– Joy D. Jones, General Primary President
When you tell your children “I love you,” what does it mean? It should mean that you provide protection and will help your children become their best selves. Part of protection is creating a trusting, consistent relationship. By helping children feel valued and loved we give them a safe place to turn when they have questions about their bodies and sexuality. They will more likely share concerns about bad images that pop up while they are online.
Your loving responses to their questions and concerns will encourage them to come to you again and again. I have found that my kids are more likely to talk to me about serious topics at night when everything has quieted down. For this reason, I go in their room before bedtime to say “Goodnight.” We may recap our day as I sit on the edge of their bed. Sometimes I ask, “How are you REALLY doing?” or offer to pray with them. Either way, I do what I feel is best to maintain a trusting relationship with each of my kids, even if I am tired or busy. Like you, my kids are my priority.
- Some parents opt for flip phones for their children to limit internet usage.
- Some families have a “media room” designating a single, high-traffic area in their home where electronic devices are used. All their devices are kept in open view, in the light. Never is any one person alone in the room on a media device.
- Other families have rules like no phones in bedrooms or bathrooms.
- Some simply say, “Never alone with a phone.”
- Some parents gradually add access to apps their children can use with software that allows the child’s phone to be configured by the parent.
- Others install filters on home modems and phones.
Let us educate children in constructive ways to use technology for good. Also, we need to be our children’s source of information about sexuality. As young as eight years old, parents should have an open honest conversation about sexuality, followed up with many other periodical discussions to follow up with age appropriate details as the child gets older. Parents’ choices on how they teach their children about technology and human intimacy now may save their ambitions and happiness for the rest of their lives.
Bad Images are Inevitable
Regardless of the safeguards we set in place, pornography will pop up and our kids need to know what to do when that happens. Much of unwanted pornography exposures take place in the home. Teach your children what to do when this happens. Dan Oakes is a trained mental health professional, an expert in relationships, sexuality, and parenting as well as depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive behavior. I strongly recommend his services and informative videos on the science and fight against pornography for all parents.
As parents, I hope we will consider the importance of our relationships with our children and the specific efforts we are making to protect them. As we strengthen these loving relationships, children will better understand why God warns against the evils of pornography, they will recognize how to avoid it, and they will be prepared if they do encounter it.
Respond with “I still love you.”
No matter what I have done as a parent to safeguard against pornography and develop trusting relationships with each of my children, each one has had exposure to pornography. Not a single one has come forward about the exposure or concern voluntarily. I prompted the child with, “Is something wrong?” “You don’t seem quite yourself” or “When was the last time you saw a pornographic image.” In my experience the more love the child feels, the easier it is for him or her to open up. Pornography feeds isolation and deceit because its partner is shame. This shame forces adults and children to hide their experience.
Through education, again, we can teach our children the truth about shame. “You are not bad, what you saw was bad, what you felt was natural and your choice to keep it on is hurting you or turning your computer off is helping you.” There is a difference between shame and guilt. Shame leads to hiding, guilt leads to confession and change. Guilt is a blessing as we reach to our Savior. Shame is a lie. We are all children of God. We are good, even though we may make a mistake.
“This assurance of love is established in their minds from small experiences that take place over and over. Minor troubles talked about in a loving way create a foundation of a healthy response so that when big troubles come, communication is still open. Most importantly, children know that your response will be, ‘I still love you. I don’t stop loving you because something happened. I always love you.’”– Joy D. Jones, General Primary President
Pornography Side Effects in Children
Fight the New Drug organization says:
- Porn can change and rewire your brain, and studies show that it can even make your brain smaller and less active.
- Porn can be addictive.
- Porn will destroy your self-confidence.
- Porn can leave you lonely.
- Porn can hurt those you love.
- Porn can ruin healthy sexuality.
- Porn is connected to violence.
- Porn causes people to eventually become dishonest.
- Porn will rob you of your time and energy.
- Porn causes depression, anxiety, and shame.
In healing, channel some of the love you have for your child into finding the right resources to help. Seek out professionals who can help your loved one and also help you.
Professionals that I have met and recommend are:
- Dan Oakes, mental health professional and therapist
- Dennis Parker, certified hypnotherapist
- Joy Jones, speaker and author
As you and your loved one seek healing, I also recommend you pray to God. On my knees, I have found strength in the One who has the power to heal all wounds and bind people together. He is there for you too. Our Savior has the power to comfort and forgive. No other name under Heaven, except Jesus Christ, can save us. As parents who love, protect and guide, we point our children to this gentle Healer. I agree with Joy Jones, “He loves our children even more perfectly than we do—no matter what.”