When Children Use Pornography
No healthy parent wants to think about his child viewing pornography, but it often happens. Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to eight. Before the days of the Internet, children were typically between the ages of eleven to thirteen when they began by viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines like Playboy.
Today's child lives in a culture where hard-core pornography abounds. Our children are being seduced daily, and we need to bear this fact in mind whenever we have the occasion to redirect them away from pornography.
It is also extremely important that parents not direct all their efforts toward their sons at the expense of their daughters. Pornography and other sexualized media can adversely affect girls as well as boys and often leads to significant damage in their ability to form healthy relationships as an adult.
We want to be intentional parents. It's our privilege and responsibility to educate them about sexuality. We want to begin early, and continue throughout their time with us in the home.
The ultimate goal for our children's sexuality is that they will be able to see the dynamic interplay between sexuality and spirituality. As Christians, we want to help them understand, for example, that sexual intercourse is an act of love shared between a husband and wife. This sacred act symbolizes the spiritual union that will occur between Christ and His bride, the Church, upon His return to earth. We hope our sons will see themselves as a type of Christ as they relate to their wives, and that our daughters will see themselves as a type of the church as they relate to their husbands. What we model today in our marriages will likely reproduce itself in our children's marriages.
By helping our children to see the big picture about the sanctity of sex, we are better prepared to confront the problem of pornography when and if it occurs in our children's lives.
Do You and Your Spouse Share the Same Core Values?
Ideally, parents will share the same core values that promote sexual purity. This unity will facilitate your child's recovery. On the other hand, if a child's parents are divided about pornography, that child's rehabilitation will be more difficult.
A child's repetitive involvement with pornography can be a symptom of an unhappy home. Once the child's issues begin to surface, his parents may benefit from marital therapy if they continue to be at odds on pornography in general or fail to agree on how to facilitate their child's recovery.
Before you start beating yourself up, however, any exposure to pornography can harm children - even otherwise healthy children. The point here is not to blame parents but to help them identify any problems that may be negatively affecting their children's understanding of sexuality or recovery
Did My Child View Pornography Intentionally?
I'm convinced that children are victims of a covert form of sexual abuse 1 whenever they are confronted with sexually provocative materials. With this in mind, our children need us to be healthy advocates for their well-being - even if we must confront their willful exposure to porn.
If a child has been found with pornography, it's important to not jump to conclusions. A harsh, impulsive interrogation will most likely just shut down your child. An unhealthy shame often leads to more acting-out with pornography.
You will want to learn how your child found pornography. For example, did someone introduce your child to pornography? Mental health professionals recognize the power differential that occurs as result of age, and if the person who introduced the pornography was older by three or four years, it constitutes a type of sex abuse.2 These incidents should be reported to local authorities.
1 Sex abuse can occur without physical touch. The brain is the most important organ that responds to sexual stimulation.
2 Sex abuse can be distinguished from child play whenever the power differential of three or four years of age exists between the two children. The older child will be more experienced and sophisticated, while the younger child will be more vulnerable and naive.