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What To Do When I Discover My Kid Masturbating?

by Cris Clapp Logan on November 4th, 2013 in Parents

Well… this is one of those extremely awkward situations that neither you nor your teenager (or pre-teen) wants to ever be in.  Chances are, you want to ignore what happened… sweep the event you witnessed under the rug as part of “kids being kids”… I mean, every child experiments a bit with their sexuality, right?

While it’s true that it’s part of the natural “growing up” process for your son or daughter to explore their sexuality to some degree, it’s not true that masturbation necessarily needs to be part of that exploration.  Despite your desire to erase what happened from memory (and despite the fact that your son or daughter likely wants to erase all memory of your discovery as well), it’s up to you to talk to you children about purity and sexuality, especially now.

It’s important that as parents you understand that teenagers (and pre-teens) have a lot of questions about masturbation.  If they are Christians, or they are being raised in the church, they probably want ot know what God has to say about masturbation, and they probably also know what you think about masturbation.  Recognize as well that guys AND girls struggle with masturbation: this is not an issues that is just for boys, and TV shows, teen magazines, movies, porn and even school sex-ed classes can promote masturbation as an important part of self-empowerment and healthy sexual exploration.

Unfortunately, in our work, we haven’t found that masturbation is part of the healthy sexuality that God designed for a number of reasons, and the reasons against masturbation are things that you should definitely talk to your kid about.

First, masturbation often involves fantasy and lust, and as a result, it’s very difficult to honor God while engaging in the act.  Chances are, if your son or daughter are engaged in masturbating, they are also thinking about another person, body parts, or something that they encountered online or in a magazine.  It’s important to talk to them about honoring God with their thoughts and with the content that they allow into their lives.  Have they been viewing pornography?  Have they been watching questionable content online or on TV?  Did one of their friends expose them to some material?

Second, masturbation teaches people to have selfish sex—masturbation teaches us that we don’t need anyone else to have a sexual experience.  God created sex to be a unifying, bonding, demonstrative and sacrificial expression of love between a husband and a wife, but masturbation teaches us to fulfill our own desires for pleasure and arousal, alone.  Masturbation can be extremely addictive, and we’ve worked with many individuals who have struggled to have healthy sexual lives with their spouses because they are so addicted to self-pleasure.  Help your kids to understand that the patterns that they establish in their childhood will extend to their married life.

Third, masturbation can lead to later compromise.  A lot of kids argue that they need to masturbate so they won’t have sex.  Usually, however, masturbation intensifies rather than satisfies our sexual desires.  Since masturbation isn’t the full-bodied sex that God designed us for, it can never fully satisfy our sexual desires, and often sets us up for further sin.  And when we are willing to make sexual compromises when we are all by ourselves, it becomes even more difficult for us to be disciplined when we are alone with someone we care about.

Help your kids understand that you understand what they are going through, and you want to help them.  You don’t think they are gross or weird (even though you might be freaked out)—but that you want to help them get accountability.  Help them to know that you are aware that a lot of people struggle in this area, but that it’s important that they recognize that God’s grace reigns supreme, but that it’s His desire that they walk in purity.  Help them to recognize the “warning signs” that they may struggle—when do they feel tempted?  What is their motivation when they struggle?  Who in their lives can they talk with about this struggle?  Push them to think carefully about the content that they take in, the friends that they spend time with and their ultimate goal in purity and sexuality.  For more information, check our our parent resources here.

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  • Trapper

    Article needs to be proofread.

    Sad to see such harmful views and misinformation presented where children might read it. Fortunately, traffic here seems to be light.

    • Gary Seymour

      Sorry to burst your bubble there trapper but the harm comes from not talking to your children about this issue and if you claim to be a Christian, you must talk about it and let them know what the Bible says about it. And if you are not a Christian, well then that explains your comment in full.

      Mat_13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

  • why?

    anyone who thinks masturbating is better than sex is quite possibly an idiot.. no one masturbates and thinks gee im gonna just do this for the rest of my life…

  • Gary Seymour

    I have an adult daughter and last year when she was staying in my home, i found a sex toy that she had and was using to satisfy those urges. She was going through a divorce and was very lonely. I let her know that I understood the lonely part but our home is a home that honors God and her sex toy was not acceptable. It was difficult to talk with her at the time and somewhat awkward for me as a dad and as a man; we were both caring for my elderly mom who was in her final days before going home to be with the Lord; but I am glad that I spoke up and our relationship is stronger today because of the godly boundary I stood by and she respected.

    • Ani

      I am also an adult daughter, widowed now. My husband had no desire for sex with me, I used masturbation to let off some steam and relieve the desire for sex, which it did successfully and prevented me from ever straying or even looking at another man with lust. The Bible does not condemn masturbation per se, many people assume in Genesis when it referss to Onan spilling his seed, it is referring to masturbation. It isn’t, he was having sex with a woman and was trying to avoid pregnancy against God wishes.

      • Jenna

        Um, did you read the post and all the reasons it gave?

        • Corvus Suri

          None of which are actually drawn from the bible. They just aren’t very strong arguments, either.

          Masturbation is bad because it is selfish pleasure? But then why does it not also condemn watchting TV alone, eating good-tasting food, listening to music or any personal hobby

          Aside from that all I see is the old and tired slippery slope thing – an argument that might actually work, if you could provide any real evidence rather than scaremongering.

          • dave

            Well corvus u provide no biblical references yourself. masturbation is not just a selfish pleasure, its becomes sexual sin because of what entails with it, visualising others naked or having sex with them while masturbating or any number of other fantasies. This is clearly stated in the bible. just one verse of many.
            1 Thessalonians 4:3–7
            God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. (NLT)
            There are good and bad pleasures in this world and the bible shows this with reasons for not becoming drunk. Why takes cocaine drugs for pleasure? really common sense is given to us for a reason.

  • PG

    Sex was created for pro-creation. Not for pleasure of bonding or any other thing, it is highly addictive – 1 Cor 7.

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