How to Protect Your Teen From Porn

"Pornography" is defined by Webster s dictionary as any writing, picture, etc., where the primary intent is to arouse sexual desire. Beyond the obvious, such as X-rated videos, erotic Internet sites, or magazines like Playboy, Hustler and Penthouse, this definition would also include material such as the Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, immodest lingerie catalogs, TV shows, many R-rated films, and even some car, truck and motorcycle publications. Since all, whether their creators would admit it or not, are intended to arouse sexual desire, they all qualify.

Be careful not to think of pornography only in terms of "hardcore stuff." It s much more subtle and prevalent. A teenager going through the hormonal changes of puberty can easily become aroused by even small doses of material intended to stimulate sexual desire. Help your son grasp the broader understanding of pornography and its dangers before it grabs him. By the way, this problem isn t exclusive to boys. Though not as common, pornography can entangle young women as well.

The first step in protecting your teen from the harms of pornography is to talk about it. Most parents fear that their teen may be tempted in this area, but only discuss the subject indirectly. Help young people see that, just as with currency, there is authentic sex and counterfeit sex. Teach the benefits of a biblical attitude toward sexuality. God created it. It is good and holy in marriage. Sex gives husbands and wives a method for conveying their deep love and commitment to one another. Pornography twists those natural desires into a selfish lust for personal gratification.

Point out what porn steals from us. Repeated exposure creates an unhealthy sexual preoccupation that interferes with normal relationships with the opposite sex. Fantasies crowd out the otherwise satisfying realities of respectful friendships. The long-term consequences can include a struggle to sustain intimacy in marriage. Another casualty is sexual self-control.

As for protecting teens, helping them avoid potentially harmful material from the explicit to the seductively subtle is a logical place to start. But that doesn t eliminate the risk. A noted sex therapist once stated that the most powerful sex organ is actually the brain. Quite true. We need to encourage young people to sanitize their thinking. Help your children construct their "boundaries" at impure thoughts, not just at avoiding pornographic material. By the way, simply fighting these images with other thoughts usually isn t enough. It helps to apply some form of behavior. Speaking, writing, singing or praying in the midst of temptation can radically redirect one s focus, and provide a way of escape.

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Other Things to Consider

RelationshipsBlended Families, Parents and Adult Children

TransitionsPreparing for Adolescence, Empty Nest