We’ve written before about the impact pornography is having on our culture, and as a result, marriage. Due to this impact, we wrote about how important it is to “have the conversation with yourself”. Those who struggle with porn, need to not only acknowledge the impact it’s having on their life, but take the necessary steps to change. We also wrote about “Having the Conversation With Your Spouse.” Today, we want to discuss the importance of having the conversation with your kids.
Statistics show that children today see porn for the very first time at age 11. You may have just done a double-take and thought, “Did I read that correctly?” Yes. Yes you did. 11 years old. Eleven. On a personal note, I (Justin) was 11 years old 24 years ago. And that’s the year I first saw porn for the very first time.
It was at that age I had the opportunity to travel with a group of fellow students from my school district to Washington D.C. A select group of students was chosen for the trip, and I was one of the lucky ones. It was a first for me. A long bus trip to our nations capital. The opportunity to see the White House, Washington Monument and so much more. And most importantly (for a 6th grader), no chaperone’s staying in the hotel room. That’s right, 4 young boys in a hotel with no adults, a remote control, and all the channels hotels are known for. As we sat in our room innocently flicking through the channels, we suddenly saw naked women. 8 eyeballs lit up, and we sat there kind of mesmerized by the experience. The next morning we discovered we weren’t the only ones. 90% of the other kids on the trip had glazed over eyes the next morning, all being up too late watching the same porn.
At the time of this experience, I wasn’t a Christian. My family went to church. I understood who God was. But I wasn’t a Christian. That came later. After I made that decision, however, I quickly began to understand how devastating the porn industry can be. I remember going on another school trip when I was 15 or 16 years old. Another long bus ride. Another city to explore. Another hotel room with 4 teenage boys and no supervision. More porn. Lots more. But this time I sat uninterested. I sat in the room innocently playing through some video games instead.
If these experiences taught me anything, it’s that having the conversation with your kids about the porn industry is extremely important. Nobody ever had this talk with me. I was on my own. And being “on your own” when it comes to human sexuality in your teenage years is not a pleasant experience. It’s unpleasant because as you grow and mature you discover that you’ve learned some lessons the hard way. When it comes to porn and other sex-related conversations, you don’t want your kids to grow and mature and discover that they, too have learned things the hard way.
Instead, it’s best to start a conversation with them early. As Andy Stanley once said in a message, “I didn’t have ‘the talk’ with my kids. Instead, I sat them down and said, ‘Today, we’re going to begin a lengthy conversation…and this conversation will be an ongoing conversation.” This is a great example of we all should converse with our kids. It has to begin early (much earlier than age 11) and it has to be an ongoing conversation.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when deciding the when and how to talk to your kids about porn:
1.Root out the problem in your own life. You really must have the conversation with yourself before you can begin the conversation with your children. As a parent, you must be on your way to dealing with and recovering from your own porn habits or addictions. A parent’s role isn’t to be the “do as I say but not as I do” person. We have to set the example. And when it comes to marriage, sex, and porn, we have to set the example as to what’s appropriate.
2. Develop strong convictions about the dangers of porn. Having a strong foundational understanding about the dangers of porn, especially as it relates to a young developing mind is integral to having this kind of conversation with your child. Talk to some professional counselors who have experience in this area. Get informed. Do some research on how much porn impacts a child and then arm yourself with ideas about how to prevent porn from entering your home.
One of the most popular ideas for porn prevention is some type of internet filter. While there are a few out there, we must say at this time that we haven’t heard very good reviews from some of them. Due to this, we’re not going to recommend any specific ones at this time. However, if anybody has any good suggestions/experiences with any internet blocking software, feel free to drop a line in the comments below.
3. Remember that it’s an ongoing conversation. Don’t just have ‘the talk’ and think that one short conversation is enough. And please, don’t just allow the public education system to have the final say on this subject with YOUR children. It’s this system that has very grey definitions as to what’s appropriate and what’s not. This system nearly encourages kids to be sexually active during their teenage years. Instead of allowing others to educate your children as to what’s appropriate, talk to them regularly to make sure they know what’s appropriate and what’s not.
4. Pray. At the end of the day, your children are going to make their own decisions. And they are going to be the ones that have to live with the results of those decisions. While having an ongoing conversation is extremely important, praying for your kids regularly is just as important. As a young teenage boy, nobody ever had ‘the talk’ of any kind with me. But I’m quite certain my mother prayed for me on a regular basis. Her prayers, I believe, were answered.
Have any additional tips about “Having the Conversation With Your Kids”? If so, feel free to drop us a line in the comments below.