AUTHOR BLOG: How to talk to your kids about porn

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Whenever I speak publicly about porn, I tend to get two kinds of people who want to speak to me afterwards. One is people who are struggling in that area themselves, and the other is people who are desperate for someone to help them talk to their teenager about porn.

It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it is possible to do it well. Here are four simple tips to help you start what will probably be a series of conversations.

1. Pray
This may be obvious to some people reading this. Perhaps it’s so obvious as to be almost forgotten.

I’m fairly new to parenting myself; my son is 19 months old at the time of writing. So far our biggest disciplinary challenges are handling a toddler’s selective hearing and remaining firm in the face of the cutest, cheekiest face God ever created.

One of the things I’ve learnt since my son was born is that if I want to raise him to be a disciple of Jesus – and that is the goal – I need to pray.

We can so easily plough on ahead with practical tips, but the most important thing is to cover your child in prayer. As you pray, God can give you wisdom to handle the conversation well, and He can work on your child’s heart so that they can receive it well.

2. Frame it in Discipleship
Alan Hirsch says, “If we don’t disciple people, the culture will.” This is particularly true of our children. If we don’t show them how to live life the Jesus way, their friends and influencers on social media will show them another way.

When talking with your child about porn – about relationships in general – it’s important to frame the conversation in terms of the gospel. It’s well known that Christians generally believe sex should be saved for marriage. Don’t start there; start with why.

Why should your child keep themselves pure? Why should they deny themselves what everyone around them assumes is just a basic, fun element of life?

Simply put, because living for Jesus is more fulfilling than anything else this life can offer. It isn’t necessarily easy, and at times there are plenty of things that seem more attractive, but those things ultimately don’t satisfy.

Point them to Jesus, and frame the entire conversation in light of living as his disciple.

3. Cut the Tension
Everybody feels awkward talking about sex, especially with their kids and their parents. If you want to handle ‘the talk’ well with your kids, you need to decide to cut the tension.

When I speak about porn, it’s almost always to a Christian audience. People are not used to hearing certain words in church. I’m never crude, but I deliberately use words which are relevant to the subject.

Euphemisms can be so unhelpful. We use them to try to hide our awkwardness, but in reality they reveal it and sometimes create it where there was none.

It’ll be down to you to decide which words you will and won’t use. Be wise in this, using what you know of your child to choose the right words to express what you want to say to them.

4. Set Parameters
However the conversation goes, your child will make their own decision on how they conduct their relationships and what they look at online.

That being said, you are still their parent. While you can’t control their lives, you can set parameters for them. Hopefully, they will understand these parameters because of the conversation you’ve had, even if they don’t agree with them.

There are a number of accountability tools you can use for your child’s smartphone or tablet. Check out X3Watch and Covenant Eyes. Unfortunately, there are limits to the effectiveness of these tools, but they are a start.

It is not unreasonable to set controls on the amount of screen time your child has per day, and on where they have it. For example, you could decide as a family that you are all going to leave your phones downstairs during the night.

You’ll know best what parameters will suit you and your family. It’s important to try and do this as a dialogue; allow your child to input into this and they will be more likely to respect it.

However you choose to have this conversation, please don’t shy away from having it! It is so important that we are proactive in pointing our kids towards a better way of living than the one they are shown everywhere else.

The goal for many people in this life is to live life to the full. The only way to do that is as a follower of Jesus (John 10:10).

  • Jack Skett

    Jack is Lead Pastor at Dewsbury Elim Church in West Yorkshire, alongside his wife Annie, and is passionate about seeing...

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