What do I do if my child is struggling with pornography?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

The Bible talks explicitly about sex and lust and gives us principles in which we can apply to pornography. We see in 1 John 2:16 that "for everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - comes not from the Father but from the world"(NIV). God created sex, but He designed it in the confines of marriage. Jesus speaks of the lust of the eyes in Matthew 5:28 and says, "but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart". Ephesians 5:3 says, "But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints"(HCSB). Pornography goes against everything that God has designed for purity and marriage relationships.

Things to think about:

One of the first things that you need to do with your child is to have some conversations about sex. Kids are learning about sex one way or another, either from their friends or the internet, and so it is critical that you teach them the correct view on sex and sexuality. Students need to know that "purity paves the way to intimacy" (The Seven Checkpoints by Andy Stanley and Stewart Hall), and that we as parents should be helping to point something for our students to run to. It can be easier to run towards purity and intimacy, rather than running from pornography. Talking about sex is complex, so be sure not to try and get all of "The Talk" done in one setting. Instead, talk about sex in multiple conversations with increasing complexity in each talk. There is a good chance that if you lead into this conversation and begin by starting with pornography, you may get shut down by your child. It is important when talking about something as serious as pornography and addiction to it, that both parents are on the same page when it comes to addressing this issue. Pornography is an issue that can affect anyone. Both men and women have issues with pornography. Technology allows anyone to access pornography at the touch of a button. Ask yourself, "what devices can my child use that might allow them access to pornography?". Also, "when does my child have opportunities to access technology without any direct supervision?". If your child is struggling with pornography, then it is important to support and love them, not to shame or embarrass them.

What do I do now?

If you have determined that your child is, in fact, dealing with pornography or has an addiction to pornography, then it is important to continue being supportive and loving, but you should also tell your child that you want to help them through this process. The "why" behind the reason you are helping is important to communicate to your child too. If your child is not comfortable talking to you about this issue, then please seek the assistance of another mentor/teacher/pastor/coach that might be willing to help your child out, and even ask the child if there is someone else that they would rather talk to. Here are some ways in which you can help your student in this process:

  • Restrict internet access across all devices
  • Put blocks or filters on publicly used devices
  • Find an accountability group or accountability software
  • Look at times when your child might be alone and could look at porn

This process may also be a good time for the same sex parent to be accountable to the student. For example, fathers can help their sons by being honest, open, and accountable to them. Above all things, continue to pray for your child and love and support them.

Want to go deeper?

Here are a few great resources to help:

Pornography Info - Great article from XXX Church about the basics of pornography.

XXX Church Parent Center - Articles and resources from XXX Church to help parents talk to their kids about sex and pornography.

Covenant Eyes - An accountability and filtering software.

Every Young Man's/Woman's Battle - Two excellent books that help men and women to face the struggles related to sexuality.