By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Parents often wonder what they can do to help their son avoid pornography problems. They install filters on the computer, set rules around the cell phones, limit social interactions, and continually monitor their son’s behavior. However, these efforts will not necessarily prevent a child from developing a pornography problem.
I’ve heard varied stories from hundreds of clients about early exposure to pornography. Sometimes it occurred in someone else’s home, or on a campout, or walking through the park, or it popped up on the computer at school… and the list goes on. The plague of pornography has swept the countryside and can be found everywhere. So strict rules and boundaries at home will be important, but will not eliminate the possibility of exposure. You will need to take extra steps to help your son avoid pornography addiction.
One of the most important things you can do is develop an authentic and transparent relationship with your son. This does NOT mean trying to force him to become more honest with you about his sexuality. It actually means that YOU learn to communicate more openly with your son. You must learn to break down your own walls of discomfort and start sharing your inner world. Share stories from your own growing up, as well as from your current life, which describe your own struggles. For some parents this might also include confusion or challenges you had about your own sexuality. There is no need to feel embarrassed or timid about your child knowing the REAL you. The more open and real you become to your son, the more likely it will be that he feels safe to open up and share HIS inner world.
Keep in mind that it’s important to be developmentally appropriate. In other words, sharing some content from your life may not be understood by a younger child. Some details could actually be traumatizing to your son or daughter. Use wisdom. But the important concept here is to learn to be transparent and authentic about your true life experience.
Why is this so critical? If you want your child to open up and share his struggle, you have to be capable of modeling. You must be capable of doing what you hope he will do. Children and teens learn more from watching you, than from hearing you. They can sense your discomfort with certain topics, so when they begin to sense you’re okay to talk about anything, they begin opening up.
Most of the pornography addicts I have worked with have described to me that they never felt comfortable talking to their parents. They didn’t feel they had an open relationship to talk about life. Some came from good, church-going families, but just never feel safe to open up about embarrassing or painful experiences. The emotional energy in their relationship wasn’t conducive for it.
So if you want to help your son avoid serious pornography problems, develop an open relationship with him. Find times to talk about personal issues, emotions, struggles, temptations, and life. In this way, when your son is exposed to pornography, the experience won’t catapult him into deeper problems. You can help your son avoid pornography addiction.
If you need professional counseling as you are learning to work with your child on these delicate issues, please give us a call. We can help: (480) 668-8301.