Parents - Questions
My 14 yo daughter has been repeatedly caught reading erotic male on male porn stories. I am divorced and my ex-wife and kids live in another state. We are not sure of what to do, and I am at the mercy of my ex-wife who wants to handle things her way. I thought if we go some expert advice, we could go down the right path. Right now my daughter has shut down. She won't admit to it for fear of embarrassed or publicly shamed. This stemmed from my ex-wife catching her and making her read the stories to her older sister as punishment. When asked if she was gay...she repeatedly said "no". Do you have any suggestions? Does that make her gay? I have never heard of a female being addicted to male on male porn stories or the actually videos. Please help!
Firstly, I am so sorry that your daughter has become caught up in male on male pornography use. It's important for parents to avoid placing any lables on their kids whenever they find them struggling with pornography. When a user first begins to enteract with pornography, there are literally hundreds of different types of pornography that they will be introduced to. Both women and men--boys and girls--will often find themselves getting involved with content that initially didn't turn them on, or which, at the onset, wouldn't have seemed "normal". But in the anything goes world of Internet (and offline) pornography, a user can become quicly board/move onto different types of sexual activity and expirementation.
In our work with teens and adults, we work with women and men who are both "straight" but who have become addicted to a wide variety of Internet pornography -- from girl on girl to group sex to male on male and violent content. Viewing this content does not define who or what a person is or what their sexual preference may be. Viewing explicit content of any kind, however, can, and often does, begin to shape and change a person's sexual desires. Most of the recovering sex addicts we work with do have to retrain their brain to pursue those things which are "pure" or thought to be normal sexually.
With your daughter, I am so sorry that your ex-wife shamed her so horribly. That would be incredibly traumatic for anyone, especially a vulnerable and broken teen girl. Trust will need to be rebuilt, and you will need to continue to affirm your daughter and tell her that you do not blame her and you do not think she is gross or perverted, but you do want to help her. Tell her you've heard stories of people that have been really messed up by pornography, and, while you know that it can be something someone may want for a while, in the end, it can cause relaitonship problems, body image issues and the like.
I think if would be appropriate to have her visit with a counselor who can provide her with the space and opportunity to open up in a judgement-free zone. It's usually the shame and embarassment that shuts down anyone who is struggling. She must be reminded that she is not defined in any way by what she was looking at, but that you (and your ex-wife) want what's best for her and want to help her. Try to get at the root of the issue--how did she discover the pornography? Why does she think she is using it? Etc..
"We have a son whom we just recently found out he has been viewing porn. We have talked and prayed with him from a young age about porn and the dangers of viewing it. We have monitored his computer usage and continued to speak with him about the dangers but unfortunately did not know about your software until recently. We have installed your software on all home computers as well as his phone.
He is 17 (almost 18)and feels he is being treated like a baby and promises to not go to any questionable web sites if we remove the software. He said he will allow us to monitor all of his devices. He feels embarrassed around his friends when they notice the software. I see that your software is used in a rehab type situation. Is it wrong as a parent of an almost adult child to insist he have this software placed on his electronic devices? Or are we at a place in life where we need to not push this on him and continue to use this as a teachable moment and monitor him the best we can? It has created a lot of strife in our home and I feel it is pushing him away. I am willing to deal with the pain and being shut off if it is worth it in the end. At what point do you let go and pray for God's hand to take over?"--Rachel
My name is Shellie R. Warren and I am the women’s blog editor for the site.
This is a really good question (or series of questions) that you asked. Let me start by saying this: If your son is living in your home, then as adult as he might feel, he’s not “adult enough” to make the calls. At 38, I can’t believe that I am starting to sound like my mother (LOL) but it really is the truth. 18 is the age that *the world* deems is “adult” but God is Spirit (John 4:24) and Hebrews 5:12-14 speaks of the importance of spiritual maturity and Paul spoke quite well of being a man who put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11) and well, 2 Timothy 2:22(NKJV) says “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
As a parent but also as a person who loves another struggling individual, you have the right to want to do all that you can to protect your son (I Thessalonians 5:14) and when we’re in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-20), we have to remember that it’s not always (or even usually) going to be an “easy fight”. There is software on the computers *in YOUR house* and honestly, that won’t just cause you to protect your son but spirits, in general, from coming into your home (Matthew 12:43-45). You are protecting *everyone* in your space by making that decision. Including you and your husband.
Secondly, I come from a line of substance abusers, on both sides of my family. I used to have a really big habit of sending them cash when they were in trouble. When you are struggling with addiction, you’re not always able to hold down a job or pay bills and so you are always in need BUT when you get cash, you tend to not spend it on what you need to buy; you only get more drugs. By giving them money, I thought I was helping them, but I was actually only doing more harm. Your son telling you that he promises not to watch porn if you take the “safety measures” off sounds similar to what the substance abusers in my life would say to me. Honestly, if your son was really committed to wanting to get free, he wouldn’t mind, *in the least*, that you have our software loaded.
Now, I will also say that: I’ve been an accountability partner for someone with our software before and it can tend to be pretty sensitive. So, I would recommend that you *thoroughly* go through the links before you confront him with anything that you’ve seen and honestly, it would probably be better if his father did it. Boys don’t tend to be as comfortable speaking with a woman, *especially their mom*, about this kind of issues and you don’t want him to get to a point where he is hypersensitive. My advice would be to simply explain to him that the software is for the his protection as well as the household in general and that if he’s not intending to go to “certain sites” then there is nothing to worry about and that the only time the software issue will even come up is if you discover that the did indeed attempt to go to a porn site.
God entrusted you with your son to help to guard his mind, body and soul. Make no apologies for that.
We’ll be praying for you,
What should parents do if they suspect their child is looking at porn but have no proof?
I think taking a direct approach is best, but to better address this question, I would want to know why the parents suspect their child was looking at pornography and what age the child is. Generally, if parents are using strong parental controls, accountability software and a filter, they should be notified if someone in their home is attempting to acces pornography. If these parents aren't using parental controls, then it's not a question of "if" their child is, or will come across pornography, but rather "when". Even if a child isn't looking for pornography, without strong filters, they can easily, accidentally come across pornography, and because of how addictive pornography is, even brief exposure can open the door towards addictive access.
Finally--back to what I initially said about taking a direct approach. If the child is under 9 years old, then I would recommend asking them if they have seen anything scary or inappropriate online (or on TV/magazine/any Internet-connected device) -- remind them that you are not there to blame or shame them, and that you don't blame them for whatever they saw. Ask them if they have any questions about what they have seen online, and ask them to describe what they have seen. If they are 9 or over, it's pretty likely that they have heard the term pornography, so I think it's fair to ask if they have every encountered naked pictures or videos online. Remember to take a breath and not to accuse/blame or shame -- the key is to keep the lines of communication open and explain why pornography is something to stay away from.
My son has named me, his mother, as his accountability partner. Although I think my husband (his dad) would be a better choice, perhaps he chose me because I am more vocal about issues people struggle with and what the Bible has to say about it. I get the accountability report every Sunday once a week. (That sure doesn't seem often enough!) My son and I set a time each morning to call and talk to each other on the phone, do devotions, and talk about God. I ask him if he's been to any questionable sites. I encourage him in his trying to get closer to God, that God is the one that will help him control this addiction, that "white knuckling it" doesn't work. I tell him the closer he gets to God, the closer he will get to kicking this addiction. That in spending time with God, His "essence" will rub off on my sonl and he will find that the more he falls in love with God, the more he will fall OUT of love with sin. Is there more that I can say to him or do? I browsed your site but the only stuff for parents was for kids under 18. That's not my situation. He's my son but he's a grown man. Do you have any advice for me? I'm so frustrated because even with my love and counseling, he's still feeding his addiction. I find myself getting angry and feeling like he just doesn't care at all. I myself have never been addicted to porn, although I know what it is like to struggle with something you can't control which, as much as you try, you can't seem to hand over to God. I love him so much and I hate to see him suffer. Satan is shaking him like a rag doll. He's already lost the woman he wanted to marry because of this. Since he's a computer software expert, he keeps hacking around the software meant to help him, and he finally got kicked out of his church because he just wouldn't do the things the leadership told him he should do to get past this problem. I want to help him finally make the decision to just let God help him! What can I do?
First off, I am very sorry to hear about this long-standing struggle that your son has had with pornography addiction. Secondly, it sounds like you are doing absolutely everything that you can as a mother to help your son battle his addiction to pornography; this situation is not your fault, and, additionally, you are not responsible for what your son does and doesn't do now as an adult. While you can continue to be available to him, to pray for him, to counsel him and to be his accountability partner, ultimately, it's up to your son whether he is going to take the steps he needs to take to begin to walk in freedom. He needs to own his sin and his addictions and do everything possible to walk away from his pornography addiction. We've worked with addicts that have left their jobs, gotten rid of their computers, moved cities, etc. to protect themsleves because they realized freedom from pornography meant more to them than their job or their current lifestyle. Counseling and therapy can also be incredibly helpful--there is only so much that you can do as his mom. He also should be seeking medical help to identify what is holding him back (because it seems as if there is something in him that just isn't yet ready or willing to give up his pornography addiction). With Christ's help, there is always a way to overcome sin--your son needs to beleive this and walk in this truth. Overcoming even the deepest, darkest sex addiction is possible--we've seen it time and again--but the individual who is struggling has to be willing to take the responsibility and stop telling themselves lies and excuses--they need to be willing to give up their pornography addiction. And ultimately, as a mom, as hard as it is, you need to trust God with your son. Your son may fall deeper, and he may run farther away from freedom from pornography before he begins to take real heart steps towards being freed, but I fully believe that if he wants to be fully free, then he will get there. May the Lord be with you.
My Daughter is showing signs of needing deliverance as she has suddenly began to have blank stares. She won't answer me when we discuss what's going on with her. She had recenetly denounced lust and porn but back slid and went back on sites on her cell phone. Since she admitted it, and we prayed for her, she has had these side effects. She no longer has access to any form of technology. She is displaying depression but I know there is a root spirit there that is holding her captive and keeping her from talking. Any referrals other than natural counseling. I don't won't to resolve to medication. I know this is a spiritual matter.
I would recommend that you continue to talk to your daughter and pray with her for healing. Try your best not to blame or shame your daughter or make her feel "dirty" -- often times, children shut down if they feel ashamed or blamed. Pornography, as you know, is extremely destructive and addictive, and we have known many children and adults who have benefited from Christian counseling--and I would recommend that you consider seeking counseling for her. Additionally, I would strongly recommend that you install filters and strong parental controls on all Internet-enabled devices, inclusing your daughter's phone, so as she regains access to her cell phone, inappropriate sites will be blocked. I would also recommend giving your daughter a game plan with regard to next steps and setting up clear rules for Internet use. For example, explain that she will lose her Internet and phone privileges if you discover that she is accessing pornographic sites.
Hello, I am a recovering porn consumer. Previous pornography addiction caused great problems in my marriage and personal life. My question however is regarding my two young kids (ages 6 and 7). I've read and followed your parents action steps and have had some small level talks with both about sexuality and their bodies. They are still very open to asking me questions and me being their role model. The oldest asked me a few days ago why his penis got hard when he touched it. I was not very ready to answer the question. I told him it was a normal body reaction and that even though its normal it was best if he tried to not do it. I feel i didn't do a great job at explaining, perhaps it was my opportunity to elaborate more on the subject? can you help me with some directions on how to address his question in a better way? Seeing the problems pornography has brought to my life, i want to protect them and encourage a proper sexual education. But at the same time I do not want to introduce them to terms and information they perhaps are not ready to handle. We also have Open DNS in our home router, as well as x3watch on all iPads, iPhones and home computers. thanks.
First of all, let me commend you for using filters on all of your Internet-connected devices and for starting an open dialogue with your sons about their bodies and healthy sexuality. You are right to be cautious about introducing them to terms and information that they are not quite ready to handle, and a six or seven-year-old boy may not be ready to handle the term masturbation or think in a more complex way about purity.
It is, however, very normal for kids at that age (and younger) to be curious about their body parts and to explore their genital region as well. Try your best to avoid shaming, scolding or punishing them when they are engaging in this natural development process--you don't want to convey that their body parts are bad or something they should be ashamed about. It sounds like you took a balanced and calm approach (especially given the suprise you must have felt!) -- and I believe you did a good job of providing a simple answer. This answer, however, is just the first step of an ongoing conversation that you will need to have with both of your sons. If you haven't noticed any unusualy behavior or a fixation on self-stimulation, then I would casually bring up the subject of masturbation in another few months (or up to a year) as part of your ongoing check-in and conversation with your sons about healthy sexuality. Simply saying something to the effect of "You know how when you touch your penis it gets hard and feels good? This is a natural feeling and a normal response that your body has when you touch it like that. But that feeling can keep you from doing other things that make you feel good -- other things that are fun. What are some of the other things that you like to do? What are some other things that are fun? It's better to focus on those things right now." If you are having more of a general sex talk, then I think it's important for kids to understand how their bodies work, and talking about an erection can be folded into that conversation -- then you can reinforce that these feelings of pleasure are best saved for and experienced in marriage... that God made man and woman to connect sexually in marriage, and that sex and the phsyical pleasure that accompanies it is meant for a husband and wife. As your kids grow towards their tween and teen years, then you can introduce topics like avoiding lust and purity in a more full-bodies sense, but for now, keeping it simple is fully age-appropriate.
do we specifically tell our eleven year old son that we've seen the porn he looked at?
I would strongly recommend that you take a direct approach with your son if you've discovered that he is looking at pornography. If he thinks he's old enough to look at pornography, then he should be old enough to have an honest conversation about sex, pornography and purity.
Remember, however, not to blame or shame your son. Ask him how he first discovered pornography (was he exposed by a friend? was he just curious about sex?), and how long he's been loking at it. Explain to him why you think that pornography is harmful to him, and why it's not a good idea for him to continue looking at pornography. Also, make sure you install strong parental controls and a strong filter on all of the Internet-enabled devices in your home (gaming consoles/portable devices/laptops/desktops/iPads/smartphones, etc.) to prevent further exposure, and explain to your son why you are placing parental controls and a filter on the devices.
Help your son to understand that you love him and that you don't think he is gross or perverted in any way--that you know that a lot of kids are tempted to look at pornography, but that you are always available for him to talk to, and that you want to help him protect his purity and have a perspective on sex that honors God and will protect him from addiction.
Hi, I have lived with my sister and two nephews pretty much since they were born. They are now 12 and 14 years old. A few months ago, their absentee father returned to the country and they decided to live with him. There are no rules or boundaries in their new home environment and they have both been given iPhones with no supervision, time limits or filtering. Last week I discovered pages and pages of pornographic images on the 14 y/olds photo albums of his iPhone. We have supervised screen time in our house, no wifi access, and Internet filters however this is only for 1 day a week. I would like to give some guidance to my nephew around this issue and would appreciate some advice on how to approach it with him.
Thank you for your question, and I am so sorry to hear that your 14-year-old nephew is accessing pornography and struggling between the rules at his mom's house and his dad's house.
When you talk to your nephew, remember to try not to blame or shame him. It's likely that he will feel very embarasssed that you discovered this content on his iPhone, and you want him to be able to trust you and continue to open up to you about this matter. Also, help him to understand your perspective: why you think that accessing pornography can be harmful (we have some information here both on having the talk and on pornography and parenting) and why you think it would be better for him to stay away from pornographic content. I would also consider suggesting that his mom and his dad talk and try-if at all possible--to come up with some shared rules regarding media use. Ask your nephew how he first accessed the pornography and ask him if he has any questions regarding what he has seen. Help him to understand that you understand that a lot of kids struggle with looking at pornography, and that being curious about sex is a natural feeling for someone of his age, but that the content that he sees in pornography is not natural or normal sexual expression. Help him to understand what you believe to be the best context for sex.
Additionally, consider getting your nephew a few books to help him understand the dangers of pornography and which can advise him regarding what to do with his desires/lust/etc. such as Every Young Man's Battle and Pure Eyes--there are a number of teen-appropriate resources that can help here.
Once they've been caught with sites that unapprioate. What do you say & do?
It’s very easy for any parent to overreact when they first realize that their son or daughter has bene looking at pornography. Many parents become paralyzed or angry, and it’s right to be upset that your child was exposed to such graphic content. Remember, however, that the way that you respond to your child in that moment is critical to support ongoing conversation about sex and purity. Be sure to avoid blaming or shaming your son or daughter... try to use the exposure as a launching point to an ongoing dialogue about purity and sexuality.
Ask them if they have any questions, and try to learn—in specifics—exactly what they saw and how they gained access to the content. Ask them how seeing the pornography made them feel—really listen to their words, and take this opportunity to explain healthy sexuality and healthy sexual expression. Help them to understand God’s place for sex, and tell them that what they are looking at online pales in comparison to what God intends for their bodies and for their life as sexual beings.
Additionally, explain—in as clear terms as possible—why you don’t want them to look at pornography (for help, check out our parent PDF on pornography). It also might be appropriate to ask whehter their exposure started somewhere else--at a friend's home, etc.... what made them start looking at those sites in the first place?
Also, I would strongly recommend that you use parental controls and a filter/accountability software like our X3watchPRO or SafeEyes on all of your Internet-enabled devices to prevent further exposure.
For more information on talking to your child about healthy sexuality, check out our resource, “The Talk”.
Hi, my husband and I just discovered that our just barely 14yo son had been viewing porn via inapropriate searches on our IPAD via safari. (searching safari for search terms that i've never even HEARD of, like violent sexual terms i don't even want to say here) I traced the history from yesterday to appx Dec 6th, so a little under a month. I'm not entirely sure that was the start, and he's having a hard time being completely forthcoming to his dad and I. He is acting very ashamed and saying he hates himself and i'm so scared. We are a very conservative, strict family, and the thought that this would happen in "OUR HOUSE" is so beyond my ability to comprehend. If anything we were watching his older brother more closely, but anyway, i am considering either the x3 or netnanny filters, we will be getting that within the next couple days before any of the kids are allowed on the internet and we'll be vastly revamping our screen time policy in general. But my concern is because of his particularly young age and innocence- what is developmentally appropriate as far as treatment- how risky would it be for his psyche to have him visit with someone from church? His dad, a former porn viewer, will be leading this and maybe working through "every young man's battle"? is that age appropriate? any other ideas for us? thanks.
Firstly, let me say that I am so sorry that you discovered that your son was viewing hardcore pornographic material. I really hope that any parent that is on this site and reading what you are going through will immediately install a strong filter and accounability software (like our X3watchPRO) or SafeEyes on all of their Internet-enabled devices. It is so important to get in front of this issue and PREVENT exposure; as you are experiencing now, prevention is a much better outcome than having to deal with the fallout from porn use or porn addiction.
Regarding your situation though, I would strongly urge you to try to keep the conversation going with your son--don't blame him or shame him; he seems to be experiencing enough of that on his own. Know that (unfortunately) many, many young teens (and kids much younger than your son) have early exposure to hardcore content. It can impact their understanding of sexuality and it can open the door to later struggles in life, but if you are able to use filters, block further access, to have regular conversations about healthy sexuality and use this as a teachable moment, then this can be a launching pad to helping your son understand what it means to walk in purity.
I think that "Every Young Man's Battle" is a great resource for teenage boys, and given the type of terms that your son was searching for, and his age and the culture that we live in, I think it would be fully appropriate.
Regarding play time/his interactions with other kids--we hear story after story of kids showing other kids what they've discovered online--I would recommend using strong parental controls on all of your Internet-enabled devices (don't forget phones and gaming consoles and devices), and make sure that any media use is in shared living space. This will help stave off the temptation that your son may have to "show and tell". And while kids do, at times, want ot act out what they see, we typically do not encounter youth-on-youth sex abuse with such limited exposure. Usually the youth has had a history of sexual abuse and a long history of exposure, or they are at a younger age, when their ability to understand what is good vs. bad is hardly developed.
I would recommend, however, that if you are concerned, to keep your child's playtime and interactions with other kids in public space, and always ask him to keep his door open when he is with someone else.
Finally, I do hope that you can learn where the initial exposure happened --for your son to be looking for some specific hardcore terms, it's likely that a friend or sibling or show that he encountered opened the door for his search. Or, since there weren't filters on your iPad, then he could have just been doing what most 14-year-old boys would be doing--exploring their curiosities about sex--and as he encountered pornography, that could have led him into the dark world of the really hardcore stuff (often softcore sites have tons and tons of links to fetish and hardcore content as well). If you can find the source, then you can try to prevent any future exposure from the initial source.