In my first two articles about protecting our kids from pornography, I laid out the dangers of porn, and then suggested ways that parents can take some radical steps to help protect their kids from those dangers. But the reality is, there is no ultimate prevention for our children never being exposed to pornography. We know that kids are spending a tremendous amount of time plugged into screens. With so much time spent on the internet, watching tv and movies, playing video games, and all the other ways kids are interacting with technology, we know that their access to porn of all kinds is practically limitless. In fact, “the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11, and 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online.” (X3 Watch) Therefore we can’t stick our heads in the sand and say, “not my kid”. Nor can we have a one time conversation with our kids where we simply say, “don’t look at porn” and end it there. Unfortunately, that’s what so many of us parents do. We say, “don’t,” and that’s where our fight ends. Instead, that should be just the beginning of our fight to protect our kids!
There are many things we can do to help our kids in this battle they’re facing against the dangers of pornography. Here are 3 simple ones you can start today.
First, we can pray for them. We should pray every day for their present and future fight against porn. We should pray for their spouses too.
Next, we protect them. We put into practice some radical steps to make our homes a safe haven in a world where porn is practically everywhere.
And third, we prepare them. We know that they will encounter pornography at some point, whether on their own phone or computer, or on someone else’s. So we give them a battle plan for that moment.
But the fact is, we still have to do more. Monitoring screen time and putting blocks on their devices is not enough. We must give them real life alternatives so the siren call of the screen isn't so strong. We have to give them something better!! When we give our kids healthy and engaging opportunities that allow them to make real life connections with us, with their siblings, with their friends, and with the world around them, we’re doing just that. Those connections are the better thing.
The truth about pornography is that it is devoid of connection. It is empty, isolating, and an utterly lonely experience. And the more a person uses porn, the more isolated and lonely they become. “Author and political activist Naomi Wolf has traveled all over the United States talking with college students about relationships. ‘When I ask about loneliness, a deep, sad silence descends on audiences of young men and young women alike,’ she says. ‘They know they are lonely together … and that [porn] is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out.” (Why Porn Leaves Consumers Lonely) We must protect our kids from living life this way. We have to provide them with a way out. We have to provide opportunities for connection.
First, we want to help our kids connect with us. One of the best ways we can do this is to stop believing the lie that as our kids get older they don’t want to be with us. I’ve heard so many parents say, “they’re glued to their phones and they only want to be with their friends.” Parents! We need to give our kids a reason to put down their phones. If our kids know we want to be with them, they’re more likely to want to be with us.
This will require work on our part. Connecting with our kids is more than sitting side by side on the drive to school or soccer practice. It means saying no to headphones in the car or on shopping trips, and actually talking to each other. It means studying our kids, and really, truly, getting to know them. It means finding out the things that they love and taking part in those things. Maybe taking a class together, or even visiting some destination they’ve longed to see. Cooking dinner together, going camping, planting a garden, training for a 5K, or building a tree house. It means regular, scheduled time spent together, away from the distractions of technology and daily routines.
If your kids are young, you can establish these patterns from an early age. One idea: don’t turn on videos in the car. Let your littles tell you about every. single. thing. they see on the drive to the grocery store. And answer back! Get used to talking to each other, listening, and responding. With older kids, it might be harder to start these new habits. But give it time, and give them grace as you do. New things can be hard, and if its been eons since you spent time together unplugged, and away from home, it might take getting used to. But I do believe that the continual investment of time and energy into building connections between your heart and theirs will help knock down the walls of loneliness and isolation that pornography wants to build.
Next you want to help your kids build connections with their siblings and friends. “That’s easy,” you’re thinking. “They always want to be with their friends.” But what I am talking about here is helping your kids learn to really talk to one another, and make heart to heart connections, not just sit next to each other and play Mario Kart on the Wii. I’m not talking about walking next to each other with ear buds in and music playing. Or sitting on a bench together with their faces in their phones. Those kids are in each other’s presence yes, but not truly involved in each other’s lives. We want our kids involved in the lives of their family and friends.
Here’s the thing, pornography pulls people away from each other, because pornography is an easy escape from the hard work of real relationships. “Relationships can be complicated: they involve truly knowing, caring for, and serving another person at the expense of one’s own desires. Pornography, however, is one sided.” (The Porn Myth) So if we want our kids to really and truly connect with other people, we have to teach them how to do that and then provide a place where it can actually happen. We have to be proactive.
What does that look like? The hiking trail comes to mind. Not only is there often no cell service out on a trail, but walking together shoulder to shoulder provides a perfect backdrop for real conversation. But there is also building Legos, or talking about the books that they love, playing a sport together, drawing at the table side by side, having nerf gun battles, or playing a board game. All of these things require more effort from us parents. They take our time. They take our resources. They take our energy. They might make our homes more loud, more messy, and more chaotic. But aren’t our children worth all of that? I know you agree with me that they are.
Lastly we want our kids to connect with the world around them. Kids need to care about the people that make up the world they live in. They need to be invested in activities that help that happen. Pornography doesn’t do this. It doesn’t build connections. It severs them. That’s because pornography doesn’t build compassion, kindness or empathy in the hearts of its viewers. Instead it treats human beings as objects. Objects to be dominated, used and even mistreated.
I’ve found that one of the simplest and most powerful ways to help my kids grow compassion and care for others is to read books together. Story is a powerful teacher. When we read Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”, we are inspired by Atticus Finch’s fight for justice and good, even in the face of terrible odds. When we read C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” we are moved to be as compassionate and forgiving as Aslan is to Edmund, the one who betrayed him. And when we read Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place”, we are horrified to know the depths of evil that lies in the hearts of some. But then we rejoice to see the strength and dignity that lies in the hearts of others. When our kids read books that teach these lessons, it flies in the face of the lies that pornography tries to tell them.
We want to give our kids a fighting chance against pornography. While we know they will encounter it at some point in their lives, we hope they will have the strength to turn away when they do. One of the best ways we can help them have that strength is to make the good in their life more appealing than the porn. Real relationships, and heart to heart connections, are those good things. Lets give our kids something better than pornography ever could.
Keep Being Radical,
If you'd like to read my article about the dangers of pornography, full of facts and resources, go here.
If you'd like to read my article about the ways you can make radically parent your kids and arm them for the fight against pornography, go here.
If you'd like to listen to my podcast episode about protecting our kids against pornography, go here.
If you'd like some of my favorite book to use as resources on this topic, go here.
If you'd like to have me speak on this topic, please contact me here.