What to do when your child has discovered pornography
Focus on the Family Singapore // October 10, 2019, 6:00 am
Some children stumble upon pornography on their mobiles phones even before primary school. Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
It is only a matter of time when our children will be exposed to pornography, if they haven’t been already. One in four teens receive texts that are sexually explicit (CNN, 2018).
A recent report shared that nine in every 10 teenage boys and one in 10 girls in Singapore have admitted to watching or reading sexually explicit materials in the past year (The Straits Times, 2016). Some even came across pornography before they entered primary school.
It was also revealed that 88% of boys and 73% of girls saw it on their mobile devices, with 54% of the boys admitting to intentionally searching for pornographic material and 43% of girls stumbling upon it while surfing online.
The appropriate response
Many parents have been blindsided and are unsure how to react in a godly manner when they catch their children viewing pornography.
Pray for self-control and resist the urge to get emotional.
As parents, we may experience a range of emotions when we learn of our children’s exposure to pornography – shock at how easily our kids have managed to access pornography, fear at not knowing how it has affected them mentally, emotionally and physically, and sadness at knowing that they have been exposed to images that cannot be erased from memory.
If you have recently discovered that your child has come across pornography, the best thing to do is immediately pray for self-control and resist the urge to get emotional.
How we react towards our children will impact their openness in confiding and trusting in us to help them through this struggle.
Responding in love
When speaking to them, we should strongly convey these key messages and pray these verses over them, as a guide:
“I am here to help you through this, not condemn you.”
They need to know that we are coming from a place of concern, not condemnation.
Be patient in hearing your children out.
Be patient in hearing out how they came to view pornography. Ask questions that show we want to understand how to help them overcome it, and not to pass judgment. Through understanding how they came across porn, we will know better how to guide them to resist the temptation to indulge further.
Pray John 17:15 for our children; may God not remove our children from the pressures and trials of this world, “but … keep them from the evil one.”
Let our children be reminded that they belong to the Lord, and not to the world.
“Having sexual desires is not wrong, but sex and acting on those feelings are a part of God’s wonderful plan for you only in marriage.”
It is important that our children know that it is natural to have sexual urges, and no human being is immune to it. However, we need to remind them that pornography destroys God’s design for marriage and can make a huge mess of their lives and relationships now and in the future.
Remind them that pornography can make a huge mess of their lives and relationships.
In a survey done among Christian youth and young adults in Singapore, 51% of them have viewed pornography in the past one year. It was also reported that 8% strongly disagreed or disagreed that using pornography goes against their Christian beliefs and values, while 13% neither agreed nor disagreed (Whole Life Inventory, 2018).
This shows that a concerning number of our youth are not clear about what God has to say about pornography.
As parents, we need to share with them how pornography is in direct opposition to what God has designed for sex and marriage, and what God’s values and our beliefs are; this will empower and motivate them to please God.
Let us pray Ephesians 4:22-24 and Romans 8:5 for our children, that they will “put off (their) old self … and be renewed in the spirit of (their) minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
May they “become those who live according to the Spirit, set(ting) their minds on the things of the Spirit”.
“The safeguards I have put in place are to help you and not control or shame you.”
Studies have shown that many children stumble upon porn, so it would be wise to allow the use of the laptop or computer only in the living room, and install software to block porn.
Parents can install web filters on their children’s mobile phones, but this may only work for younger children.
Have heart-to-heart talks with your teenagers.
The most important thing we can do for our teenagers is to open channels of communication and have heart-to-heart talks with them.
Regardless of age, impress upon your children that any safeguards have been put up for the sole purpose of protecting and helping them.
Pornography hurts children, marriages and families by wreaking havoc in the mind and harming the relationships of anyone who watches it. As parents, we need to lead our children in repenting and seeking God’s forgiveness, encouraging them to rely on the Holy Spirit to help them resist the temptation of viewing pornography.
If there is suspicious online activity but you have not come across evidence, pray 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 over them – that they will flee from sexual immorality, recognising their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
May they know that they belong to God, and honour Him with their minds and bodies.
Let us intentionally pray 1 Peter 5:8-9 over our children, that they will be sober-minded and watchful because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
May our children resist him, be rooted firm in their faith, knowing that they are not alone in their struggles against the flesh.
This article was first written for Focus on the Family, Singapore and has been republished with permission.