Talking to Our Children About Pornography
Pornography has never been as easy to find as it is now. In fact, many of our children are walking around with the ability to instantly access every kind of porn there is. With only an internet connection, pornography is accessible every second of everyday, no matter where they are.
Speaking of every second, here are some statistics. Every second, 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet, $3,075.64 is being spent, and 372 people are typing the word "adult" into a search engine. Unfortunately, even young children know how to type the word “adult”, and the more they do, the more they give away their childhood.
40 million American people regularly visit porn sites, 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography, and 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content through ads, pop up ads, misdirected links or emails. Sadly, this “unwanted exposure” is happening to children at younger and younger ages.
About 200,000 Americans are classified as “porn addicts.” Speaking of addicts, I had a conversation recently with a lady who was sitting one evening on the sofa next to her brother, with his wife in the kitchen making dinner. She glanced over to see that he was watching porn on his phone. Sitting next to his sister, and with his wife in the other room! Needless to say, he has marital problems and constantly argues that he doesn’t need to change anything.
Lauren and I have spent much of our adult life working to help families get healthy. I’ve seen many fathers who treat their children poorly, raising their voices and threatening their kids, simply because they are so frustrated with themselves. Others are so full of shame, they leave their marriages and families to “protect them from him.” Of course there are others who’ve been so numbed they are just plain checked out from their family, even though they continue to live in the house. Many times, these are just symptoms of porn use.
None of us want our sons to grow up and be these types of men, and none of us want our daughters to marry someone like that (or be a wife like that, since nearly ⅓ of porn users are women). We want men and women who are truly pure, and love their families deeply. In order to work towards this, we must learn how to talk to our kids about porn.
Talk about one of the most uncomfortable conversations ever! But if we don’t talk about it, someone else will. And the dangers of not talking about it are far greater than our momentary discomfort.
Prevention is Better than Intervention
We all know the quote, “It’s easier to build healthy children than to repair broken adults.'' This is the reason I went into children’s ministry to begin with. To help kids not go down the path I went down. To prevent these types of addictions from happening to more people. To create less of a need to intervene in people’s lives and have less broken adults to repair.
New research suggests that children under the age of 10 now account for 1 in 10 visitors to porn video sites. Read that again. 10% of all visitors to porn sites are children under 10 years old. If we want to build healthy children, we can’t wait till they are teenagers. If we do, it will probably be some form of intervention because they may have already been watching porn for years at that point.
Not on Our Watch
Why do we really need to talk to our kids about porn? Because of something called “the law of first mention,” which says that whatever a person learns first, that’s what they believe to be true. That means, if the internet talks about sex first, they will believe whatever site they landed on to be the truth about sex. If their friends talk about sex first, they will believe that whatever their friends said is the truth about sex. Now, especially in California where we live, the school is trying to talk about sex first, because they want our kids to believe they are the ones telling the truth.
Notice that this law means that children don’t believe based on who’s actually telling the truth, it’s who’s talking first. Whatever our children hear first is what they think it true, even if it’s a lie!
Something to Help
Understanding all this, I went on a journey to find anything that would help me have this conversation with my kids. What I found is absolutely wonderful. I found a book that I read to my children when they were five years old. It’s called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.
It teaches kids the difference between good and bad pictures. It talks about the difference between “the thinking brain” and “the feeling brain.” Just because something feels good, doesn’t mean it is good, and the book helps kids know how to shift out of feeling and into thinking, so they can do what’s right, even when something else feels better. It explains how addiction works and how to avoid it. There is both a version for 7+, as well as a version for 3-6. Yes, you read that right, 3-year-olds learning about bad pictures.
I love this book. I love the conversations it started with my kids. I love not only what they learned, but what I learned as well. This book wrecked me as a parent. So much so, in fact, I take boxes of them with me every time I speak at a church!
It’s obvious from the statistics above that there’s never been a more important time for us as parents to talk to our kids about sex, and fortunately, there’s never been a resource that’s so helpful, until now. Even if you’ve spoken to your children already, I’d encourage you to get this book so you can hit this conversation with everything you have. So you can give your children wisdom and truth, so that what they believe to be true actually is.
Some of you may have children who have already been exposed and need help with intervening in their situation, or you may be struggling yourselves, so next week, I will write about my journey with porn use and how I got free.