Parents - Questions
Our teen boy who is 14 has been caught by us viewing pornographic websites, this would be the 3rd time. We have taken all computers away etc and keeping him busy as it is school holidays in Australia. We are born again Christians and want our son to grow up without being destroyed by this evil thing. We have read your advice and are following it. Thanks heaps. What book would you suggest he read that explains what he is doing is wrong? He needs to get an understanding of this for himself. Thank you!
I am glad that you have been reading our advice, and if you haven't already, I would strongly encourage you to install parental controls--especially a strong filter--like our X3watchPRO or SafeEyes, onto all of your Internet-enabled devices, to prevent your son from accessing pornography again on your family-owned devices. Additionally, it may be helpful for you to watch the Voices videos and go through the other teen-focused resources on our site with your son--to help him hear what other men and guys his age have to say about the harmful impact of pornography on their lives. Another wonderful resource is Every Young Man's Battle -- it really articulates the harms of pornography along with God's plan for purity. Dirty Little Secret and Pure Eyes (also available in the Teen resources section) have also helped many, many teens with this struggle.
We found out via a visit from the dept of homeland security that my 15 yr old had been sexting with a teen girl in Canada via an iPod app. As of now there ane no charges being filed and the authorities have left the issue in our hands. I've installed the whole house filter offered by open dns and will be installing x3 and/or safe eyes on each of his devices once they are returned to him. As of now we are restricting him to school-related use only of his internet-capable devices and they must be used in the same room as a parent. Additionally, he and I will be going through the xpure program together. The biggest issue we are facing with our son at this time is trying to get him to own his sin and follow through with true repentance. Other than prayer and waiting on God to move on his heart are there any other practical steps that we can take toward this end?
Firstly, I am so glad to hear that you are installing filters and parental control software on all of your home's Internet-enabled devices. This is a step that, as you are experiencing, so many parents don't do until their son or daughter has already had some exposure to pornography or sexually-questionable sites and apps. Even now, taking this step will help prevent your son from further exposure and use of sexually-oriented sites and apps. I also commend you for signing up to do an Xpure workshop together--I think that this will go a long way to help keep your conversation going regarding purity and sexuality.
In addition to what you are already pursuing, I would advise you to consider getting Every Young Man's Battle, Pure Eyes, and even Pure Sex -- a great resource to launch discussion (usually used in a youth group setting, but also a very powerful resource for parents and teens). These books can help reinforce your conversations with your son about why purity matters and why what we do with our bodies matters to the Lord and impacts our life. Ultimately, however, only the Lord can change the heart and move in your son to encourage him towards purity in this area, but I strongly believe that these resources (and the reinforcement of others who have struggled with sex addiction and pornography addiction, especially via our teen resources) can help you in your battle for your son.
I'll give my question first, and then follow with a thorough explanation. The question: What should I do if I think my son has been exposed to Gay porn? It's a bit more delicate of a subject to approach than straight porn. I don't want him to further question his sexual identity because of me inquiring why he may have been looking at it. It could be curiosity or maybe seeing how he measures up. It could be that he didn't even really see it (I'll explain, below). I just want to tread lightly while still finding out if he has viewed any of this. If he has, I want to somehow help him to not identify himself with that world. Here's the full story: My wife and I have been married for 22 years, and we have two great kids: a 16-yr.-old son and a 15-yr.-old daughter. We're generally a happy family, all committed to Christ, and very involved in church, youth ministries, etc. My son was first exposed to porn through a young friend when he was 13. They both went to the same Christian school, and we know the parents fairly well. While at this friend's house, the friend encouraged my son to look at porn (of women) on the friends iTouch and then masturbate together (my understanding is that they were not masturbating each other). My son and I have always had a fairly good relationship. Every member of our family has always tried to be very loving, open and helpful to one another. One night during his 8th-grade year, my son came into my home office and asked if he could talk with me. He melted into my arms and began sobbing and told me about what happened the last several times he visited his friend's house. I called the father, and all four of us (the father, his son, me and my son) met to talk about it and discuss God's perspective of sex and the negative impact of porn and how it can affect us. My son is now in 11th grade, and we haven't run across any issues with porn since that time. All computers in our house are totally protected with Safe Eyes. We even schedule their internet time so they need to ask us to turn it on via Safe Eyes any time they use the internet. Both of our children (my son and our 15 yr old daughter) have basic mobile phones with no data or internet capabilities. I've regularly asked my son how it's been going....if anyone has shared porn with him at school (now in a public high school) or at home on iphones, ipads, computers, etc. He's assured me that there have been no experience like that since his 8th grade year. He's always displayed healthy, normal attitudes towards girls...desiring a girlfriend...elaborately, but respectfully expressing his crushes on girls in his journal, etc. I regularly check his e-mails, his computer files, his texts, his journals, etc. to make sure I'm not missing anything. And, I've never seen anything or had any inclination that he has any sexual interest in other boys/men. He's not effeminate in any way...has very masculine mannerisms and speech. His favorite type of video games is racing games. He absolutely loves cars and masculine machines. And he loves to play any RPGs we will allow him to play (depending on ratings, violence, sexual content, etc.). On the other hand, my wife and I have always had a bit of a concern that he just doesn't fit in with kids his age. He's an extremely talented musician, and, as such has not had a lot of friends who are more athletic, average guys. And, although I know there are several girls who have had crushes on him, he's never been pursued by a girl he would like to be pursued by. So, as parents we're a bit concerned that, if he were exposed to the world of gay porn or homosexuality he might start to question his orientation. And, I don't want him to think that I, as his dad, may be questioning that orientation...possibly causing him to be concerned even more: "well, if my dad thinks I am, maybe it's true." A couple of nights ago we discovered that he had taken my work-supplied iPad to his room late at night after everyone had gone to bed. I guess he figured out that it didn't have any internet security software. I had just recently been issued the ipad for business use, but we were using it in the kitchen over Thanksgiving break to stream Pandora to a bluetooth speaker. One night we couldn't locate it anywhere until he "found it" in another room of the house. It seemed suspicious to me that he found it when nobody else could and that the internet history had been deleted. He did not, however, know how to delete the Website Data from the Advanced Settings. So, I looked at the listings there and found multiple porn sites including "adult dating" (hetero) websites, adult hetero hardcore webcam sites, so called "teen girl" imagery and video (softcore and hardcore) as well as some "pre-teen," female non-nude (borderline child porn) sites and maybe 6 gay sites. I didn't mention to him the specific sites I found or exactly how I found them. I just told him that I sensed he wasn't being honest. He has a sensitive spirit, and it only took maybe 5 minutes for me to get him to confess. He felt terrible and embarrassed, and apologized to my wife. As I said before, I suppose it's possible that there were links for the gay sites on the straight sites and he was just curious. And...since I don't actually have any internet search history available, I don't know if the cookies generated were from actual searches or even actual visits to these gay web sites. I suppose they could have been popups or just cookies from a host site. So, I don't want to make the assumption that he actually visited the gay sites. Bottom line...I realize that all porn is terrible. But, it's easier for me to talk with him very directly about hetero porn and the borderline child porn website data I saw. Gay porn is a bit more delicate in nature. I need to know how to ask the question about whether or not he voluntarily visited the gay porn sites without causing him to question his sexual orientation. If he did visit them, I'd like to know what the motivation was for that. And, whether it was intentional or not, I'd like to talk with him about how it affected him and set up a more regular time to talk about all of this stuff. I'd like to do all of this without making him feel like we're evaluating his masulinity. Do you have any suggestions about how to approach this Biblically and sensitively?
First of all, I commend you for talking so openly with your son and checking in with him about his struggles with pornography and the exposure that he unforuntately had both to masturbation and to pornography at his friend's home. It sounds as if you and your wife are doing the best job that you can to help protect him from exposure (by using a strong filter and parental controls, like SafeEyes) and to keep the conversation going with him (by checking in on him in this area). You are following the guidelines that we advise to parents on a regular basis.
Regarding the most recent incident with your work iPad, for now, I would continue to maintain the approach that you have had thusfar, of gently confronting your son, listening to what he has to say, and providing the best counsel that you can at this time and letting him know that you love him and are always available to talk to him about his struggles in that area.
I think it's also important to understand that kids have a lot of questions about sex and are highly curious about the content that is available online. As you likely know, there is a huge variety of pornography online, and, as you noted, there are many many links off of mainline/heterosexual sites that link to group sex, BDSM, teen-pornography and gay pornography sites. We work with many teens and adults that start with heterosexual pornography and move across and towards a wide spectrum of pornography--I've counseled many heterosexual individuals that have gotten into viewing lesbian and gay porn. The deeper that one goes into pornography, the more likely that they will view content that may not have initially been stimulating to them. At times, viewing this content can lead one to question their sexual orientation, but it sounds like, at this point, that it's more likely that your son may have been falling more into the category of curiosity.
Perhaps, at this point, you can just let your son know that you are aware that there is a wide variety of sexual content, and that it can open the door to a lot of questions, and that if he has any questions, you are there to help him. Remind your son that pornographic content, in all of its forms, doesn't represent the full-bodied sex that the Lord designed, and that God designed sex to be best-lived out in married life, between a man and a woman. As you reinforce that message, let your son know that you love him and that God extends grace enough to cover his struggles and sin. Help him to know that there is nothing that your son can do or struggle with that would cause you not to love and care for him. Hopefully, as you continue to extend your wisdom, grace and love to your son, he will continue to feel comfortable enough to open up to you about his struggles, and, if he is questioning his sexuality in any way, then he will know that he can come to you. For now, however, I would just continue to pray for your son, watch out for warning signs that he is struggling with pornography, and remind him that you want to do everything in your power to help him pursue the path towards purity. I would try to stay away from anything that would make him feel as if you are questioning his sexuality or that would cause him to close up to you. Again, many, many teens (and adults) struggle with viewing gay pornography (as well as fetish, etc.) who are not themselves struggling with their sexual orientation.
My son is 12 years old, and back in Apri,l we were contacted by the school principal about my son and the contents on his PSP and notebook computer. This is where our nightmare began. My husband and I both rush to the school because there was going to be an officer there because of how extreme this contents was. As we get to the school the principal explains to us that my son had some very extreme videos on his computer and pictures on his PSP. This isn't all, the video was shown to 2nd graders on the bus and shown to my daughter as well. Although he wasn't the only one and there were two other boys involved. The computer and PSP were confiscated by the deputy, and we didn't get it back until summer break. During that time we had long talks with him about what a real relationship between a husband and wife are like, and that what he is watching and seeing isn't what it is in real life. About a month after school let out, we moved and joined a church. Things seemed to be going well, then all of the sudden I found out that he was using my computer to get on the internet and looking up porn again. So, we consulted with our pastor and did exactly what we were told to do and put a password on my computer for him to not be able to get on anymore, my husband had a long father to son talk with him. Things seemed as if they were going to change, that is until last night when I went to take my cell phone and go to bed. I found where for over 2 hours he was surfing the internet on my phone for porn again. He accessed my phone while my husband and daughter were at the church and I was in the bed because of medical issues I have with female problems. My pastor, who is a great man, came to our home and stayed until after midnight talking to us and to our son. What else can I do to help my son to realize this isn't what he needs to be looking at and thinking this is what is done between married people. It has been explained to him in a very vivid way and a way for him to think. What if that was your sister and someone was treating her that way, and some of the women in these videos are old enough to be your mother, how would you feel is this was your mother and so on. This answer I get is: I wouldn't like it, and I would hurt someone for doing that. Well, what if it is was your daughter? and of course he got quiet. Could someone please give me some more insight as to what I can do to help my son because this is not a road I want him to go down. That road almost ruinned my father's life and took my uncles life because of the shame. Thank you
Firstly, I am so sorry that you, your son and your family are going through this, and I am also sorry to hear that pornography had such a devastating impact on your uncle and father as well. I am very glad that you now are using a password and a filter on your home computer, and I would strongly encourage you to use a filter (like our X3watchPRO) and parental controls (such as Safe Eyes) on all Internet-enabled devices in your whole family (laptops, gaming devices, cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, etc.) to make sure that your son cannot access pornography at any point. As you have experienced, pornography can be highly addictive, and I think that you and your husband and your pastor will need to continue the discussion with your son about his struggles with pornography--what he has seen and how he is going to move forward. Continue the conversation regarding how he would feel if someone treated his sister or someone he loved in the way that he has seen depicted in pornography. Talk to him about the dark path of addiction and the impact that pornography use will have on his future family, wife and kids. Help him to have a long-term perspective and teach him to pray for purity--talk to him about accountability. I would also talk to your pastor to find out local resources for Christian counselors that specifically target sex addiction--this is a quickly growing field since so many children are beginning to struggle with porn addiction due to early exposure. Also, consider getting your son "Every Young Man's Battle" or "Questions You Can't Ask Your Mama About Sex", and having your husband go through the book together with him.
And I do hope that your pain will spare other parents from having ot go through the same ordeal: any parent that is reading this, recognize that you must be proactive in using filters and parental control software on all Internet-enabled devices--don't wait until your child has developed a pornography addiction or been exposed to act--stop putting it off, and please take the step today so you don't have to go through the same hardships as this family!
Finally, to your family, I would also remember to engage your daughter in regular conversations about sex and purity, especially since she was also exposed. I know more and more girls that begin to struggle with pornography exposure, to make sure that you are helping her make sense of what she saw as well. Once again, I am so, so sorry for what your family ahs gone through, and I commend you for asking brave questions of your son and trying to get him the help he needs. I will be praying for his recovery and freedom from this addiction!
We are missionaries and while we were out of the country we had a strong christian family take care of our sons for 6 days. This family has a 13-year-old foster son. When we came back from a great week with God, but our two sons age 8 and 10 confessed that the teen watched porn with them for 3 nights in a row, masturbated in front of them and taught the 8 year old how to masterbate. Of course we have prayed for forgiveness, healing, talked a lot with them and will continue too. But as a mother, my heart is broken, I feel like I was trying to make a good decision and instead my children were defiled. Advice, how can I help my children walk through this. Also, this family drives our children to school because they go to a christian school 1 hour away from our house and I am now scared to let them drive with them. I feel I am encouraging the relationship with this boy. Some good things did happen though, the foster boy confessed that he was sexually abused as a child and was very repentive. We were able to talk to him and get a real repentive heart. But in the end I have two boys that have seen things now that I can't take away. I am hurting. I believe they are hurting. Will they bounce back?? Help , I feel alone and ashamed.
My heart is deeply, deeply saddened for you and for what your sons (and the foster child) has endured. The cycle of sexual abuse and exposure to pornographic material is a vicious one, and it sounds as if the foster child has suffered quite a lot and has now brought your sons into the crosshairs of what he has experienced. In addition to talking with the foster child, have you talked with the Christian family about installing a strong filter and parental controls on all of the Internet-enabled devices? It seems as though they need to be vigilant about trying to cut off their son's additional access to pornographic material, and they also probably need to get him in some Christian counseling. He could also read Every Young Man's Battle, to encourage him to know how to honor God with his sexuality.
With respect to your sons, do you and your husband use a filter and parental controls on all of your Internet-connected devices (gaming consoles, phones, portable gaming devices, laptops, etc.)? If not, then I would strongly encourage you to use a program like Safe Eyes or our X3watchPRO. When our kids encounter pornography for the first time, they often want to go back and see more, so this will help in your effort to protect them from further exposure.
Also, take heart in the fact that your sons told you what happened! This provides the opportunity for continued dialogue and leadership opportunities for you and your husband--I would encourage you to continue to pray with them about this and continue to talk to them about what healthy sexuality is about and how God designed sex to be. God is able to heal hearts and minds from both exposure to sexual content and from deep-seeded sexual addiction. I would encourage your husband to also talk in more depth with your sons, especially about masturbation--checking in with them every now and then to see if they are struggling in any way. Although their exposure seemed pretty intense, and although it is so tragic that they also saw their friend masturbate and learned to masturbate, I have talked with so so so many teens, adults and kids who have had a similar experience at their age and who have been able to move forward with God's help. Lifting them up in your prayers is a huge step, and one that you will find you will need to continue to do as they get into their tween and teen years. You are not alone in this, so many moms have had extremely similar experiences!!
I would also encourage you to stay in dialogue with the family with the foster child. Chances are, that nothing troubling will happen as they drive to school together. If that family is doing their part to get their son in counseling and is doing their part to help him heal from his sexual abuse and current sexual addictions, then having a car ride together should be OK. I would, however, not allow the boys to spend any one-on-one time/alone time or additional time at the couple's house or overnight going forward. Ultimately, though, listen to your heart--it's most important ot do everything you can to best protect your sons, so if that means not having them in a carpool together, then that is your choice.
So sorry for what you have been though, but know that (sadly) in this age, you are not alone at all--this is a tragic, but common expereince for many families! Praying for your family!
I have a 12.5 year old adorable son, who has been viewing pornography on and off for over 2 years now. I have been gracious and merciful, but tonight it was so blatantly apparent that he had gone online while I was at work to view pornography. I have the history of it etc. Normally I log my laptop off to prevent these issues but unfortunately the last two day's the laptop had not been logged off. So today I found the history. I just don't know what to do, took away his phone and his xbox. Took my laptop away, but I need his mind to be renewed here and I'm a single mom whose ex-husband has no problem with his son viewing this. I don't even attempt to counsel with him. So, I'm a single mom and can't seem to get enough support from my home church to get someone to mentor my son. So what can this single mom do to help her precious boy...... Thank you
I am so sorry that you are not getting support from your home church to help mentor your son. I would strongly encourage you to continue to try to get your church leadership/youth group leadership on board with the issues relating to pornography and sex -- I am certain that you are absolutely not alone in dealing with this as a mom at your church. I bet almost every mom of a teenager is struggling to know what to do in this area (if they are not, then they probably have their heads in the clouds!). A great resource to help get your youth group and church leadership involved is our Pure Sex Kit; it also might be helpful for you, as a parent to go through the content and with your son about it.
Another great resource for your son to read would be Every Young Man's Battle -- it's written for young men, by a man and really gets to the heart of the issue with regard to purity and how to honor God sexually.
Additionally, I would encourage you to use parental controls (we recommend Safe Eyes) and a strong filter (like our X3watchPRO)--both of which will help protect your son as he is online by blocking his access to pornography sites.
Finally, I will pray that you and your ex-husband would miraculously get on the same page with this issue--perhaps explain one more time to your ex-husband why this is so important, and why you want his support in this one area. Ask him if he really wants his son to become a porn addict... does he really want his son to struggle to view women as more than sexual objects?
Anyhow--so sorry for that you are going through, and I hope this helps!
I work with a Therapeutic Foster Care agency in Southeastern Oklahoma. I am currently working with a 9 year old boy who was exposed to pornography in his bio home. Over the last month he has been reproducing images that he has seen on paper. The images are very graphic and he states that he draws them in order to get them out of his head. It seems to me that recreating the image would only engrave in more. Is this an accurate perception? I am beginning to work with him on "changing the channel" in his head when those images come up. Do you have any tips I can use with such a young child? Thank you.
Art therapy can be a great way to help kids deal with early childhood trauma, and early exposure to pornography can defintiely be a traumatic and defining moment for many children. I commend you for engaging with this 9-year-old about his personal experiences and the exposure that he had to apparently very graphic (and perhaps even violent) pornography. I think your approach to help him "change the channel" in his mind when the images come up is a strong approach. Ask him to try to replace the images he starts to see in his mind with images that aren't sexual in nature. Try to help him come up with memories--places he has been, images or shows that he has seen that are non-sexual in nature, but which can help spark his imagination and get his brain creatively involved with non-harmful content. I think you're right that recreating the images does not necessarily help to "get the images out" of his head. Perhaps you could try presenting him with some images of animals, sports figures, or outdoor activities that he could try drawing from and adding to. It does seem, however, that he may need a continued outlet to help him process the images that he encountered at his bio home, so I would encourage you to keep the conversation going and help encourage him towards a healthier understanding of sexuality. Another approach to help creatively engage his brain is to read some vivid/creative, non-sexual books together and ask him to draw the scenes as you read them... this can help to engage his imagination towards scenarios that are non-sexual! So sorry to hear about this young boy's early exposure, but grateful to know you are working with him through this!
My son is 17, and he's a good Christian kid. We have Norton Safety Minder on all our computers and mobile devices, so I'm sure he's not viewing pornography online. But I recently went to a discussion of pornography at my church where the commentator talked about the wave of oral sex sweeping through middle and high schools. My wife and I want to talk to him about this, but we're afraid we may raise flags that he hasn't considered to this point. I've considered talking to his youth group pastor for advice, but how do you think I should approach the subject? Thanks for your help!
First, let me just thank you for being one of the few parents who is using parental controls on all of your family's Internet-enabled devices. That is obviously a huge step to help protect your son from online pornography.
Now, with regard to oral sex, I would be pretty surprised if your son didn't already know a good deal about oral sex. Even though he is not viewing pornography on your home comptuers or via his smartphone, most of the students i work with learn about oral sex from their peers or from movies, TV shows or the music they listen to. Even good Christian kids tend to hear/absorb a lot of information about sex and oral sex in the culture today.
It's probably best to start by asking your son what he knows about oral sex to make sure you are on the same page. Once you are both on the same page about the basics, then it's important to use the opportunity to reinforce your family's views on purity and sexuality. While oral sex may not cause someone to lose their technical virginity, engaging in oral sex will cause them to lose their technical purity. Our perspective here, and I am guessing your's as well, is that oral sex is a form of sexual interaction that should be reserved for a man and a woman in marriage--it's an incredibly intimate act of service and pleasure for a husband and wife, alone.
Since your son is a believer, then I would encourage him to really continue to seek to honor God with his body, and to pursue not only "technical" virginity, but purity by God's standard. Chances are, your son will understand that it's God's best, and for his best and his future wife's best for him to save all of himself, and his sexual experiences for marriage.
Finally, I think it's also important when talking about oral sex to mention that performing or receiving oral sex can still open an individual up to acquiring STDs... it's not something that teenagers risk by having sexual intercourse alone.
My stepson was not raised in a christian home and my husband is a new believer, so his son may not really even take him seriously yet. He is visiting us (we live in TX; his son is in WA) for a few weeks and some of his son's recent comments and behaviors are making it clear my husband needs to have a talk with him. How do you talk with a boy about purity and self discipline when he's not (yet) living for Christ?
We have a number of parent resources on our site (i would recommend that you and your husband review Action Steps, The Talk and our Pornography Critical Issues page) that can help you and your husband in this process. I would also strongly recommend "The Volunteer's Guide to Sex" -- a great resource both for parents and for individuals that work with kids. As parents, regardless of how where your son is with Christ, it is important to help him set boundaries and understand where you and your husband are coming from. Your husband should be honest, patient and ask questions to help him understand where your son is coming from. If your husband lets his son know that he is concerned and cares for him, and if he tries to help him understand his own perspective about purity and sex, then at least they can start the conversation.
Remember as well that sex addiction and pornography addiction is something that impacts believers and non-believers alike--Christians and non-Christians can struggle with and be impacted by the dark side of sexual sin, so even though your step-son doesn't know the Lord, he could be struggling with what healthy sex is all about.
We discovered our 18 year old son is addicted to pornography about 6 months ago. He has been secretly viewing porn for 3 to 4 years. We also found sex toys he purchased. He agreed to see a counselor, so we set up him with a christian counselor about 5 months ago. The counselor is trying to get a good idea of what our son is about and has not yet really discussed porn and it's issues and begun to help him. He says he is bored and doesn't want to go any more. We (his parents) don't know how to help. He is an awesome kid with a dark habit. Please give us some possible ways to help our son. We are deeply troubled for his relationships and future.
Perhaps you, the parents, should have a conversation with the counselor your son is seeing to gain a better understanding of whether that particular counselor has worked specifically with kids struggling with porn and sex addictions and what success he has had in the past with helping lead those kids to healing. Perhaps the counselor can suggest some ways that you can better support your son and support the work that the counseling sessions have begun. If this counselor does not have expertise in the area of sex and porn addiction, then they should be able to recommend someone else who specializes in the field to help.
Apart from working with the counselor, be sure that you are using Internet controls and filters on all Internet-enabled devices in your home and that your son has access to to help limit his access to pornography in your house. Also, consider getting him some books (like Every Young Man's Battle, Pure Eyes, Eyes of Integrity or Questions You Can't Ask Your Mama) or getting him involved with our x3pure or our recovery workbook (all of these are in our teen resources).
Remember, however, that as with any addiction, an individual needs to make a personal choice/have a personal commitment and desire to leave their behavior behind. I would encourage you to consider the conversation with your son and pray for him--that he would truly desire to change.