5 Observations on Porn Stats in 2014

I would like to caution those reading this. The following post is explicit. I am looking in to the reality of pornography today. If this topic triggers in you your own struggle with porn, past sexual abuse or some sort of relational pain in this area… I would encourage you to refrain from reading.

It’s that time of year again… the porn stats have been released. For normal people this is no big news. But, I suppose, I’m not normal!

I consider pornography one of the most damning and damaging drugs out there. Porn is not just college boys looking at a Victoria Secret catalog. Who knew we would arrive at the day where we wished that is all we were looking at.

Pornhub is the #1 pornography site in the world. They are in the business of selling porn and these stats show they are succeeding immensely. Pornhub has an interesting practice of releasing very detailed statistics of user behaviour on the their websites. It is a bragging sheet basically… “Look at how much porn we can sell, we are awesome!”

Each January, I take time to sit down and read through these stats. It is not for the faint of heart. As a teacher on relationships and sexuality, I consider it very helpful and almost essential to being effective. That is definitely not true for everyone.

For most of you, simply save yourself from the stomach turning and nausea inducing report.

But, for parents, educators, and Christian workers here are my 5 observations on the Pornhub 2014 report.

1. Porn Use Has Not Maxed Out

Pornhub reports 18.35 billion visits last year, with people viewing 78.9 billion videos (15 billion more than 2013). That is 11 videos viewed, in 2014, for every single person on earth.

Remember, these stats are from just one porn portal. It is the biggest but definitely not the only one. The United States, UK, Canada, India and Germany round out the top 5 nations generating this traffic.

Porn use has not slowed down or reached it’s pinnacle. There doesn’t appear to be any end in site to the growth of this industry.

2. Paedophelia is Becoming the Norm

For 2013, the number one search term was “teen”. Yes, you read that correctly. The most watched porn was paedophelia. Yet again in 2014, “teen” was still the most searched term worldwide.

Being turned on by underage girls is now considered standard and average porn.

The implications of this are enormous. What does this mean for Dad’s who are looking at porn of girls who look just like their 9th grade daughter? What does this mean for teachers in this same boat?

Remember, “teen” is not people searching for 18 and 19 year old boys and girls. It is searching for children that look 12 and 13 years old. How this does not cause an outcry in our nations is beyond comprehension

If you think that men viewing underage girls for sexual pleasure is unusual, read again. This is the the most common porn people look at. The implications on all levels of parenting, educating and ministering is enormous and needs to be openly discussed.

3. Is Pornhub Altering the Statistics?

A friend pointed out to me the lack of search terms such as “child”, “daughter”, “toddler”, etc. She suggested the possibility that Pornhub is purposely altering the statistics to remove these terms.

Remember, pornography is progressive. You do not get one picture, print it out and look at it for the next 20 years. It interacts with the human brain in the exact same way as cocaine and heroine (at the same time!). Just like you need more drugs to get the same high, so you need more porn of variety and extremity to get the same pleasure sensation.

Since “teen” has been a standard search term for a number of years (even if not #1). I would like to make a bold statement that I agree with my friend. I firmly believe Pornhub is purposely hiding stats which reveal the prevalence of “socially unacceptable pedophilia” (“teen” being acceptable but “child” not yet acceptable).

I can’t prove it but I strongly believe there are stats in the area of pedophilia porn that they are not releasing.

4. Intimacy Avoidance is Deep

There were a few unique stats that stood out to me.

  • The #1 day people look at porn is Mondays.
  • The #1 comment on porn videos is “love”.
  • Top category of porn for women: various forms of lesbian sex.
  • Most increased search terms for women: “bondage”, “rough” and other forms of violent sex.
  • The #4 most searched term for Americans is “cartoon”.

There are many reasons we pursue sexual deviancy. I speak to a lot of students about “intimacy avoidance” (or fear of intimacy). Looking at these stats, I am reminded that we are broken and have few tools, capacity or maturity to engage in intimacy. Healthy intimacy is desperately needed to deal with life’s stresses, pain and challenges. Instead, we use porn as a form of “intimacy avoidance”.

Monday is the least favourite day for most people (but the most favourite for porn!). Mondays brings the reality of life, hard work, stress, financial needs after a weekend of being able to “check-out” from reality. Instead of engaging in healthy intimacy to deal with this stress… we turn to porn. Feel better for a moment and off we go.

The view of “lesbian” sex by women is interesting because the stat is way out of proportion to those women who self-identify as a lesbian. This stat lines up with what I have observed in talking to women. Homosexual experimentation is rapidly on the rise amongst those who do not identify with the label “homosexual”. Increasingly, friendship amongst women involves sexual experimentation. In line with that, heterosexual women are regularly engaging in lesbian porn.

The sexualisation of friendships is becoming the norm for women. Increasingly, intimacy=sex in women’s friendships.

Heterosexual women are sexualising even normal friendships. More and more, intimacy=sex. As women, too often, we do not know of any other way to engage in intimacy with each other apart from sexualising it.

Can this twisted understanding of “intimacy=sex” be captured any more vividly than by the word “love” being used to describe how much every enjoys looking at teen girls or violent sex against women?

More and more we are sexualising our every day relationships.
More and more we are de-humanising our sex through violence and cartoons.
More and more we are sexualising and dehumanising the word “love”.

The fear of intimacy and inability to truly know it and engage in it runs so deep. We need to start an honest, real and true conversation on intimacy. The current unexplained use of the word by the church is not helping or adequate for those sitting in the pews.

5. Family is the Next Frontier

Lastly, family is the next frontier. The most striking fresh news from these stats is the incredible rise of sexual turn-ons by family members. Terms such as “Mother”, “Mother in law” and “step-mom” were popping up everywhere. I believe this will continue to develop in the years ahead to the rest of the family. Even a top search term for women was “old man”… a term that can be associated with fatherly figures in their life.

Mix this reality with the standard turn on of underage girls and we have an atomic bomb of abuse about to explode in new proportions.

Where Does this Leave Us?

If you have made it to the end of this let me extend my apologies. The picture is not hope filled or positive.

Let us turn to a God who is not surprised by this report nor unable to overcome. May we engage with God with a fresh commitment to face reality.

The path of porn is a pursuit of death and not life.

It is not life to the young boys and girls being trafficked to supply this drug.
It it not life to the young men and women being used for lust and then cast aside.
It is not life for our marriages.
It is not life for our spirits and souls as we use others to feed an ever addicting monster.

In the midst of that reality, let us be carriers of hope. Truly, there is always hope because there is always Jesus.

Other Articles on Porn from ThisIsLoveActually.com:
Porn 101: Waking Up
Porn 101: Marriage Edition
Porn 101: Parenting Edition

Photo Credit: Kristina Alexanderson

4 Simple Questions for Marriage Health

My husband and I are about to celebrate 12 years of marriage. We are not typical “romance” people. Our anniversary generally doesn’t involve me getting flowers, jewelery or chocolate. I don’t buy him… well, men are hard to shop for so that’s my excuse.

For us, an ideal anniversary involves the two of us being alone, away from the kids, overnight and with… wait for it… UNINTERRUPTED CONVERSATION. It is a rare thing but it does exist!

Since our first anniversary, we have a tradition of spending some time to just ask questions of each other. Questions that don’t normally get asked in the day to day of life.

If you don’t do this in your marriage, you should. Asking questions and then truly listening is one of the most powerful communication tools to keep a whole and healthy marriage.

Here are 4 simple questions on 5 important areas. Pick a topic, ask and listen.

4 Questions on Your Friendship:

Do you feel that we are having enough fun and light hearted moments together?
What events or dates could we plan that build our friendship?
Do we have any hobbies together? If not, what hobby could we do together?
Do we have mutual friends that we both like to hang out with? If not, who could we pursue?

4 Questions on Communication:

Do you feel I truly listen to you?
Do you feel that my words and tone show that I respect and value you?
Are there times that our communication struggles? What are those times?
Are there topics or areas you wish we would communicate about more?

4 Questions on Sex:

How is the frequency for you?
Are you feeling loved and cared for in this area?
In what ways could we make more time for it?
What could we do to make this area better?

4 Questions on Parenting:

How do you feel we are doing in being loving parents?
How are we doing in being consistent and following through?
What “season” do you think each child is in?
How are our family times, are they bringing us together or apart?

4 Questions on Spiritual Health:

What is God teaching and growing you in, right now?
What areas do you feel spiritually weak in?
What things do you do that feed your walk with Jesus?
What ways could I support you in your walk with Jesus?

More resources on question asking and date night ideas:
4 Types of Date Nights
Date Night on the Cheap
20 Ways to Take Initiative in Your Marriage
Questions to Take You Deeper in Friendship or Marriage

The Sex-Starved Marriage

If you are married, do you have enough sex?
How much is “enough” in marriage?

These are big questions that many women wonder about and most are afraid to ask. I have been in many, many discussions with married women on sex. Informal, just amongst friends type of discussions. This topic often dances on the edges of our conversation and generally never get’s brought in to the center. It can feel too personal and daunting to openly discuss. But it seems to be the conversation many of us want to have.

This is especially relevant for “sex-starved couples”. These are couples where one is wanting significantly less sex compared to the other. The other spouse feels unloved, shut-down or frustrated with the lack of sex in their marriage. They go weeks and weeks with no sex. Perhaps the couple started marriage with a commitment to talk openly about sex and have it often! But, reality, is a different story.

I recently came across Michelle Weiner-Davis and her TedTalk on The Sex Starved Marriage and this article she wrote. I would highly recommend you look at both!

Here are my thoughts on this important topic with a few stolen ideas from Michelle Weiner-Davis.

Who wants sex?

It is generally assumed that women have a lower sex drive than men. But this is not always the case. Many times it is men. Often, women want lots of sex, equal to or exceeding their husband. For this discussion, I’m going to talk to the women. Whether you are going through a season of wanting much less sex or it has always been that way, here are some thoughts to consider.

4 Reasons Women Don’t Want Sex

Season of Life

Young children, those precious little angels. Eating us out of house and home and consuming our desire for sex along with it. Let’s be honest, young children can be a huge killer of sexual desire, especially for women.

I remember when our boys were younger. They were energetic, loud and 18 months apart in age. They were up in my grill ALL the time. The only thing I wanted at the end of the day was no one to look at me, talk to me, touch me, or ask me for anything… basically I wanted to be on a planet where no other person existed. Just me, an episode of Good Wife and popcorn. That’s it. I hated to break the news to my husband that he was not wanted on my planet called “Just-me-and-no-one-else-including-you”. Sound familiar?

Children, specifically young children can suck every bit of sexual desire out of you. Other things can do it too. Perhaps job stress, financial hardship or personal crisis. It is good to recognise and communicate this in order to make a plan for your season of life.

Your Stages are Reversed

Sex has four stages: 1. Desire (mental desire for it), 2. Arousal (physical excitement and desire for it), 3. Orgasm (no explanation needed!) and 4. Resolution (back to normal). Previously, it was believed that these stages also went in this order. More and more research is happening that for many women, Stage 1 and 2 are reversed. Desire only comes after physical arousal.

Practically, this means that many women don’t feel like having sex until they have actually started having sex. When it comes to women and sex Weiner-Davis says, “Just Do It”.

If women wait until they “feel” like it then they will never have sex because “feeling like it” only comes after they have started doing it. This is why so many women say, “Well, I didn’t feel in the mood when we started but by the end I really enjoyed it! We should do this more often!”

I have recently been sharing this with women friends to see their opinion. I found that almost every single woman said they completly identified with this the majority of the time.

Intimacy Avoidance

Having very infrequent sex can be a sign of something deeper. It can be a way of avoiding intimacy because of hurt, pain or some other dysfunction. Some reasons:

  • Undealt with hurt or pain in the marriage.
  • Undealt with hurt or pain in your personal life. From a past relationship, abuse or other situation.
  • Immature intimacy skills. Some of us simply never learned how to be intimate with others. Perhaps our family of origin was extremely unhealthy or we had emotionally immature examples all our lives.
  • Current dysfunction in the marriage. If we are keeping secrets, harbouring unknown addictions or being emotionally unavailable then these will all affect the sex life.

The only way to deal with this is to get outside help! Find a trusted mentor, counsellor or married couple that can explore these issues with you.

You See Sex and Love as Two Different Things

What if you you replaced the word “sex” with “love”? How would that change the conversation for you?

Saying, “I don’t feel like loving you tonight” might be an honest admission but what if you said it every day? Suddenly you would feel selfish or a little unsure about your words. This is what our spouse often hears with repeated avoidance of sex. We can’t make sex and love two totally unrelated issues.

No one should be forced in to having sex, that’s not what we are talking about. Consistently denying sex to your husband might feel like a holiday to you but it feels like a rejection to him. It feels like you don’t love him… no matter what you say otherwise.

Scientific studies show that rejection is felt the exact same way as physical pain. That is how men’s brains process sexual rejection. It is like a physical wound.

Sex, mutually given in marriage, is an act of love. It is not optional extra benefit some people get. The love, when given, is received deep in to our souls. When withheld it is a rejection of something deep in our souls… in our husbands souls. Sex and love are not two different things.

I’m not saying this to cause guilt. It is just reality and we do well to take the care to say, “Let’s look at this because I love you too much to just pretend it’s a trivial issue.”

4 Things to Do:

  • Talk about it. Simply ask your spouse, “Do you think we have enough sex?”. That little question should get the conversation going fairly well!

  • Change the language: Stop asking “Am I in the mood?” or “Do I feel like sex?”. Start asking, “Have I loved my spouse recently?” or “Can I give love to him tonight?”

  • “Just Do It” Women, you will be surprised how the initial “I don’t feel like it” turns in to “That felt great” more often than you realise. Make a pact to “Just Do It” more often for your own enjoyment and his.

  • Make it mutual. If one is wanting sex and the other doesn’t, what do you do that night? Make it a practice to mutually serve one another. Some nights you “just do it” and other nights you just don’t. Just make sure the the “no’s” aren’t winning all the time. If you have said “no” too often in the past you might need to ask the above question to get things started again.

Date Night on the Cheap

Date NightI always get a huge reality check/heart attack combo when I visit the States and hear how much babysitting costs. It’s a lot. I’ve considered babysitting as a back-up career if this ministry gig doesn’t work out. My recent post on 4 types of date nights got me thinking about how to make dates cheaper and more accessible. Spending quality time with our spouse is healthy but also just plain fun. If expense is an obstacle then figure out a way around that.

Here are 10 date night ideas to get your creativity flowing.

1. Babysitting Exchange: Why not conspire with another family to regularly take care of each other’s kids? This works especially well if the kids are friends… then they love the evening too! Every other week, take turns being the ones to watch all the kids at your place. This works for weekend trips too. My husband and I have felt very sorry for ourselves for years because we live so far from family… thus making overnight trips seem nearly impossible. Just last week I went to a friend and said, “Enough! Every year we need to do a kid exchange and each get away for two nights.”. She said “yes” before I had even finished my sentence!

2. Call in a Favor: Why not just ask favors of people? Ask a relative or friend to watch the kids as a gift. Simply say, “We want to go out more but are struggling to come up with the cash, would you be willing to watch the kids once or twice a month?” I think you would be surprised at how many people would want to help.

3. Skip the Meal: One of the biggest expenses on a date is the restaurant tab. Skip this. Eat something before you go out and make the date about doing something else. If you want food, keep it simple by sharing a dessert or having coffee at a nice cafe.

4. Get Some Culture: Often art shows, museums, author readings, unique festivals and other cultural events are cheap or free. Keep your eyes open for what is happening in your community and try something different.

5. Outdoors: This works especially well in the long and warm summer days. Being outdoors is free and so relaxing. Go for a hike, borrow a kayak and get on the water, ride your bikes somewhere. One of my favourite things to do with Chris is picnics. Pack up something simple, get outdoors and enjoy being together.

6. Dreaming Date: My husband and I love, love, love to dream. We talk about trips we want to take, goals we’d like to achieve, family vacations we could plan, new cities we want to visit… it’s so fun! This is a refreshing way to connect that is free. A great environment for this is your local bookstore, looking at magazines, talking about the future and possibilities.

7. Combine Business with Pleasure:U.S. Travel Association survey found that couples who travel together have a better relationship and better sex than those who don’t. Two-thirds of those surveyed said a weekend away will spark more romance in their relationship than any gift. To bring down the expenses of a getaway trip, attach it to a business trip. If one spouse is traveling for business, why not have the other join and you both stay for 2 extra nights. This brings down costs for travel and can make it do-able.

8. Drop-Off: Drop off kids at Sunday School while you skip off for breakfast… avoiding church altogether. The Sunday School teachers will be none-the-wiser! Ok, I’m joking. Mostly. Haven’t all parents considered this option at least once?!

9. Stay at Home: A stay at home date can be just as nice as going out with a little planning. Plan an evening together with intention. If you have kids, the night only starts once the kids are fed and in bed. Have a later dinner with candles, spend time connecting. Being home gives all sorts of nice options such as taking a bath together, dancing on your own personal dance floor, watching the stars in your back yard with something warm to drink.

10. Utilise your Church: So many local churches are finding ways to support married couples… take advantage of it! Many churches offer date night babysitting where you drop of your kids. Some have yearly marriage seminars which are free and really fun… I know of many that provide the food and all!

What other ideas do you have where money is not a hinderance to date night?

6 Ways My Family Guards Against Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse has to be on the top list of every parents worst nightmare.

We all want to prevent it but so often we don’t know how. Often, we either stick our head in the sand and hope for the best or go overboard and our children grow up in unnecessary isolation and fear.

Over the last 10 years I have sought to read, ask questions and find strategies for my own family. Below are 6  practical strategies that guide us.

In sharing this I would like to point out two things:

sexual-abuseFirst, I am not an expert, family counsellor, or social worker. This is simply one Mom sharing with other parents… I would encourage you to use this list as a catalyst to get other input and form a strategy for your own family.

Second, these steps are based on generalisations. There is an exception to every rule. They simply aim to reduce likelihood, not guarantee an outcome. There is nothing any of us can do to 100% guarantee the outcome. We all know good families who do all the “right things” and disaster has struck. It is not the parents or the child’s fault. These generalisations are also not meant to categorise any one type of person or behaviour. I know that not all men are child abusers and not every women who gives a “pet name” to a child is out to molest that child. Generalisations are just that… generally true and sometimes not true.

Ok, here we go… 6 ways our family guards against sexual abuse.

2 Foundations:

1. Talk to your children about sex, openly, honestly and often (read my full post on this). The biggest foundation for sexual safety is kids who are know about sex, can talk about sex and understand the boundaries of sexuality. Key in this is using appropriate and accurate words for sex and the body. Sex offenders generally don’t say, “I want to touch your penis and scrotum”. Predators use euphemisms and pet names. This should feel weird and unusual to your child… and your child feeling weird is actually positive and important as we will see in the other steps.

Our family culture of talking openly, honestly and often about sex is a key foundation before all other steps.

2. Boundaries first, discernment second. Parents often talk about “going with their gut”. I call that discernment. Discernment is to identify possible danger through intuition. Discernment is so important but it shouldn’t be the foundation of your family strategy.

This is our family mantra: our boundaries protect us, not our discernment. Discernment is good. But the foundation is boundaries. Why? because the reality is that your discernment is wrong much of the time. Case study #1: we teach our kids to be afraid of strangers but not afraid of family or close friends. The reality: stats say overwhelmingly the opposite. Every study shows that, in general, strangers are safe and family/close friends are not. Most studies say that 80% of sexual abuse happens by someone a child knows and spends frequent time with. Yet, we continue to warn our children about strangers.

This is not to invoke fear but to simply show us that in the case of sexual abuse, discernment is not our #1 tool, boundaries are. Discernment is then appropriately worked into the framework of your boundaries.

4 Practical Safeguards:

On the above foundation of 1. Talking to children openly, honestly and often about sex and 2. Boundaries first, Discernment second. Here are four simple and practical things we do.

1. We never leave children with a male. This includes: male adults, male youth (possibly the worst), male relatives. We personally make an exception with grandfathers but only because we both approve. This is the only exception we make as a family. No male babysitters (unless he is with a woman and never alone with our child). We do not make exceptions to this rule.

This safeguard is especially relevant in era of online porn use. Do you know what the 2nd most searched term is for porn in America? “Teen”. Yes, you read that right, “Teen”. That means that millions upon millions of men are getting turned on by under-age girls and boys.

One counsellor that I read (who specialised in re-habilitating sex offenders) said the #1 thing he does to protect his children is to not allow them to be babysat by men or teenage boys… even teenage siblings. He felt that the mix of porn use and puberty was too toxic (and saw that affirmed in his daily job). Add to this, many families are blended from 2nd or 3rd marriages… so a teenager could be babysitting a younger sibling that is not his blood-relative. This can make the lines even more blurry for him.

I do understand that many are abused by women… I don’t want to belittle that. But, the reality is that an overwhelming amount of sexual abuse happens by men. Most men are fine and safe… but our boundaries guide us in this, not our discernment of which men we deem to be safe and which we suspect not safe.

No male babysitters, ever.

When my boys go to a friends house, I simply ask, “who will be there with them?”. I then kindly request that the Mom is always present and that our boys are not left with the Dad only. It is awkward but an awkwardness that I’m willing to deal with.

2. Avoid one-on-one situations. This includes one child and one adult, one child and one child, one youth and one youth.  This is called “minimising opportunity”. Sexual abuse happens in isolated places. When those situations are avoided, the chances of abuse happening goes way down.

Make every effort to ensure all outings are observable by an adult. It’s as simple as insisting a bedroom door remains open when friends are over. That an adult doesn’t take your child off with just the two of them. Ask kids to use the bathroom one at a time instead of all going in together. In our neighborhood the kids are all playing together ALL THE TIME (which is great!). But, we have one simple and clear rule: our sons are not allowed to go in to people’s homes, garages or any private space. Simple for them to understand and it provides huge safety.

3. Avoid “special relationships” In sexual abuse, often a special relationship is developed. It can be small things but important to take note of. Look for behaviours that make the relationship “special” or “exclusive”. For example, insist people use your child’s actual name. Social workers I talk to confirmed that in the majority of cases, a sexual abuser had a special name for that child. This is not a friend walking up to your child and saying, “Hey dude!”. I’m referring to a pet-name that is used consistently and exclusively. This act is an act of ownership, building trust and exclusivity in the relationship.

Giving gifts can be another issue. Gifts on birthdays and holidays is appropriate. But a grown man consistently buying gifts for a young girl “just because you are special” is inappropriate. We look out for these types of things.

4. Strangers or Creeps?: In general, 80% of sexual abuse happens by someone a child/youth knows. Therefore, warning our children about strangers is not as helpful as we believe it is. I actually encouraged my child to talk to strangers if they ever got lost and separated from me… studies show that children who do this find their parents quickly and safely.

Instead, talk to children about “people that make you feel icky” or “people that make you feel uncomfortable”.

Show clearly that if someone makes you feel that way, 1) tell Mom and Dad and 2) this will always be respected by Mom and Dad. Kids often have a good radar for someone that makes them feel uncomfortable but they have never been encouraged to voice this. They are taught to run from strangers. Rather, I want my child to tell me of the neighbourhood friend that they just don’t feel comfortable to be around. They don’t need to be able to explain this… if they get that creepy feeling, that’s is something to tell Mom and Dad. My oldest son has done exactly this and we were so grateful even if we will never know what we avoided.

Encourage your children to know they can say who makes them feel “icky” even if it is a friend or beloved family member. Studies show that fewer than 30% of parents had talked to their kids about sexual abuse. Even then, most failed to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend or family member.  Encourage them that if a close friend or family member makes a comment, gives a gift or has an interaction that gives them an “icky” feeling they should tell Mom or Dad.

So there you have it, the 6 basic things that we do to protect our kids. There is so much more that could be said!

What steps of wisdom have you implemented in your family?

Porn 101: Parenting Edition

*This is part 3 of a 4-part series on Pornography. The first two are: Porn 101: Waking Up and Porn 101: Marriage Edition.

As a parent, recent news and research on porn use amongst children has sent me in to some slight moments of panic. Just a weeks ago I read this article and for days could not get out of my mind the level of pornographic use among 8-12 year olds. The sexual slang children now know is shocking. I also read this article and just felt sad, for a whole week, about the sexual devastation young people are dealing with… especially young women.

But one thing kept leaping off the screen as I read these shocking articles: this is preventable. Raising a child who is free of porn is possible. But, the key factor is us, not them.

This is personal for me, of course, because I have two young sons. So, it is not just an abstract scenario but a very real and present reality. Here are my thoughts as we are raising our boys to be free of the devastation of porn. All of this is built on the foundation of my strategy to talk to kids about sex: Early, Openly and Often.

In the area of porn, two words have been guiding my husband and I: EQUIP and PROTECT.

EQUIP:

The goal of parenting is not just to protect them from all harm and potential danger. It is a goal but not the goal. In everything we do, there is that ever present reality as parents: they will leave us! So, we need to parent with their departure in mind.

Raising a child that has never seen porn, heard of porn, or know about porn is not success. In fact, that is the biggest failure I can imagine (apart from not seeing it). The goal is a child who becomes an adult that has the strength and wisdom to navigate these waters apart from Mom and Dad’s watchful eye.

First: Equip them with the What, Why and How
By the time our children are adults, they should know the what, the why and the how.

What: I think they should have a clear understanding of what porn is and what the reality is of the world out there.

Why: They should know, at a heart level, why it would bring them more joy, life and pleasure to avoid porn as opposed to engaging with porn.

How: They should be equipped with the skills necessary to reinforce their own decisions to avoid porn as an adult.

So prepare yourself, parents. We will need to explain pornography so that our children know about it. Start in little ways and explain more as the years go by. We started early with our sons. When we had the first “official” sex talk my oldest son, my husband laid the groundwork even then. He told him about sex and that it is good but some people do things which cause harm. That there are even bad things on the internet which our whole family tries to avoid, that is why Mom and Dad want to be there when he Googles things for a school project.

Second, deal with the heart.

Porn is a heart issue. So often, we as adults, look to porn to because of internal issues: intimacy avoidance, dealing with anger, masking loneliness, numbing pain, coping with depression, handling stress… the list goes on.

Equipping our children to deal with their internal struggles in a healthy way is just as much preparing them for a porn-filled world as computer filters are. Slowly and patiently help your child learn how to deal with sin, pain and loneliness in healthy ways. This young girl’s story is common, “’I remember the feeling of being sucked in, really wanting that two-minute fix, that numbness I got when I used porn…I was stressed out…”

I have a son who struggles with emotional self-control. We like to say he is “sensitive”. But if he is emotionally upset, he can fly off the handle. This is a porn issue for me. I’m asking, “will he learn to handle hurt and pain in healthy ways so that he won’t run to porn to cope with it?” (this obviously is relevant to other areas and addictions as well).

PROTECT:
So, we are equipping them with the what, why and how and dealing with the heart issues. We also need to protect them. Our goal is to not just to protect but also to be open about it so that the tools can be taken up by them as adults.

This story is common: “Jamie was ten years old when he saw his first pornographic sex scene. During a sleepover, a classmate offered to show him ‘some funny pictures’ on his laptop. ‘At first I found it a bit scary and a bit yucky,’” Some Mother’s tell stories of how their son would be in their room, privately looking at their laptop for up to 6 hours a day. Children explain that when a friend tells them a word they don’t know, they simply Google it. Googling is what we all do, right? But what if the term is “oral sex” or “anal sex”? Imagine the myriad of pictures and videos that instantly display for them to see and explore. This scenario is preventable.

There is a common core to these scenarios and so many others: Internet and Friends

In regards to the internet: make it a public and community event. Practical advice I’ve been given and utilise:

  • If your child has access to a computer, put it in a public place. I put our computer right in our kitchen/dining room area, the most public are of our whole house. I would advise to never to put a computer in a child’s room or other private place.
  • Put filters and protection software on that computer and all other internet enabled devices.
  • All other devices that are not theirs but they could have access to: password protect them. I have an iPod touch. Sometimes my boys play Angry Birds on it. I put a password on it simply so that they will have to ask me to unlock it every time they want to play… this makes me aware of when they are on an internet enabled device. I don’t want them sneaking off to play Angry Birds and accidentally land on something they can never forget and I am none the wiser.
  • Think long and hard about what age you want them to have a smart phone, iPod or tablet device of their own. The devices can be taken in to private places and thus become more of a temptation.
  • Talk to them clearly and openly about the dangers of Googling words and phrases they don’t know. Encourage them and demonstrate that they can ask you about anything they hear from friends or anywhere else.
  • In all of these things: be open about what you are doing and why.

In regards to friends:
This is more difficult. The reality is that we cannot completely prevent a friend from exposing our children to things. We can attempt to safeguard. More importantly, we can equip our children how to respond if they find themselves in a situation. My ideas:

  • For their closest friends: ask the other parents what their strategy is in regards to internet use. This could be awkward but it’s important. Simply ask,”What access to computers, phones and video games will my son/daughter have when our kids are playing?” Ask direct questions, “Does your child have a computer in their room? Will our kids be playing any video games together?”
  • Starting at a young age, explain to them how to deal with situations where they are exposed to conversation, videos or pictures which they know to be wrong. Teach them how to simply walk away, with no explanation needed. This is something your child does not need to explain to their friends. Our oldest son recently told us of a kid who keeps bringing up uncomfortable subjects. Amongst other things we have done, we explained and rehearsed how to simply walk away saying, “I just remember that I’ve got to go do something”. I don’t like that he’s in these situations but I’m aware that this skill is something that will serve him for the rest of his life.
  • Be intentional about developing friendships with other families that are just as open about porn use as you are. This creates a huge safety in the friendships that your children have!

Let us all Equip and Protect our children for life, not just for today. There is so much more that can be said! What ideas do you have?