Moms are forced to deal with pornography because:
- 95% of children 10 and under have already been exposed
- 80% of 12-14 year olds have had multiple exposures to hard core pornography
- 70% of teens 15-17 years old have accidentally come across porn online
- Addiction can occur with a single exposure and is common within three months
Pornography is taking our culture by storm. It isn’t “if they see pornography”, it is “when”. The number of church-attending young men that view pornography on a regular basis is at a crisis level, far past the majority. No religion is exempt, no, not even yours. Everyone is facing the crisis: Jews, Christians, everyone. If those are the statistics in religious homes, what happens in the personal lives of those living without religion, in the world at large?
The average age for a boy to become addicted to pornography is age 11. I know from raising boys myself that puberty really sneaks up on a mother. Here you are a young bride, now a busy mom of toddlers and little ones, and then—boom—suddenly you have a son who is not interested in girls but inside his body, puberty is creeping on unannounced, taking him by surprise with its resulting strong urges, body changes and functions. Unless you have already been open in your conversations with him about the onset and appropriate use of strong sexual feelings, that boy is unarmed and vulnerable. At such a tender young age!
I have a friend who does “porn drills” with her kids. Remember the school “fire drills”? Same thing, except this is what to do when you are exposed to porn (get up and run from the computer, don’t stay and try to close the image window because a blitz of multiple images will pop open. Pull the plug instead. Or better yet, get out of the room and get help. Tell an adult, so that shame doesn’t overtake you and discourage you. Drop your eyes if the porn is in a different form than the computer. Don’t look at girls or talk to girls who are dressed immodestly. Turn and look at someone else. Etc.!)
The pain and shame of lust are not new. Shakespeare describes it well in his Sonnet 129. Only in teaching our children about the godly use of the power to create life is there purity, light, and understanding. Our powers to create are holy, and in nothing are we more godlike than using those powers to give life to others, to create a family. Creation is the work of God.
The human body and brain love pleasure, naturally. We relish eating a good meal. We love swimming in warm water with the sun shining on our faces. We thrill to see the brilliantly colored tulips and daffodils break through the brown earth in early spring. We melt in a warm, tender hug. These are sources of wholesome pleasure. But, unbridled, our desire for pleasure can urge us to eat way too much chocolate, watch way too many movies, spend too much money at the mall, and seek thrills: roller coasters, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, 4 wheeling, hot-dog skiing—or whatever else caters to the exhilaration of human pleasure. Some (well, according to the statistics, most) young men in our day and age find that pleasure in pornography.
Are young women exempt? My daughters think it’s gross when a guy takes his shirt off to swim, so I don’t think that most religiously-raised teenage girls are getting kicks from looking. But teen girls are tempted by a romantic story or movie that deepens into pornography. Twilight’s soft-porn storyline is so appealing that it has achieved national bestseller rank. That’s girl-porn. It’s a big money-making market, and every young woman is at risk.
What are the effects of pornography? Donald Hilton, MD, is a neurosurgeon who explains that the brains he sees in the skulls of those who view porongoraphy don’t look any different than the brains he operates on that have been subjected to intense head trauma in an automobile collision. The front lobe has shrunk and normal chemical activity has altered. Not being able to cope with the flood of pleasure chemicals present from constant sexual release, the brain inhibits the production of dopamine, in an effort to achieve balance. Less dopamine means less pleasure, so the porn viewer needs harder stuff to get the same thrill. And he doesn’t get much pleasure from the wholesome things in life anymore. The hand-holding that gives your daughter a thrill isn’t even detected by her boyfriend, if he is secretly viewing porn.
This same neurosurgeon said it takes at least a year and a half for the brain to recover after porn viewing is stopped: time for the frontal lobe to heal and restore itself and for the chemicals in the brain to normalize. Even still, those repeated pathways to pleasure have created grooves in the brain that will always crave to be retraced. Thank goodness there is repentance . . . and hope.
I don’t think we realize how serious it is that we safeguard our children. And whose job is it to keep our children decent? Yep, Mom, it’s you and me. How can we do it in such an indecent world?
First and foremost, talk to your kids about sex in a happy and relaxed and reverent manner, providing a spiritual context, so they know the great gift God gives to a married couple, enabling them to have a family—the greatest of all joys. 77% of porn addicts come from rigid families who don’t teach or talk about sex. Having normal, happy family life with a mom and dad that are playful and loving—and willing to talk—that is the very most effective way to nurture decency in kids.
If your kids can see a healthy, normal relationship where you and your spouse are comfortable with your own bodies, comfortable with the role sexuality plays in your life, and honor and respect each other’s bodies, it is a huge help.
I was always careful not to make negative comments when changing my baby’s diapers. As I see it, their first impressions about the sexual parts of their bodies are important. If “pee-you” and “stinky” are how you describe them as you clean their private parts, it may be doing them a great disservice in how they view sex ultimately.
It’s a lot harder not to steal when the money is lying out open on the counter. We must make sure that computers, cellphones, i-pods, etc. are not the easy open door to pornography for our children. In my home, the computer resides on the dining room table. A horribly inconvenient place. When guests come to eat, we have to haul this heavy monstrosity plus the tower and the keyboard and all the cords it into another room until the table is cleared. No computers with internet access live in bedrooms or downstairs at our house. Our cell phones don’t have internet access. Just think of the unhappy opportunity for a teenager who has internet access on his cell phone–and takes it with him into his bedroom at night! Computer filters are necessary too. K-9 Web Protection is a free service that can protect your family. Just know that computer-savvy youth can find just what they want on the internet, in spite of filters. The real filter has to be in their heart.
The internet is not our only enemy in the fight for decency. School sex education: too much talk and information about details of sex is arousing in itself. Even in the books you may teach from. Keep it simple and unillustrated in general. Beware of song lyrics. I have read of church leaders who wanted to inform themselves so they could minister to their people and have become sucked into addiction. I think we underestimate its power.
Television, movies and popular books often present soft porn. With my daughter, I was watching what I thought was a wholesome movie, a love story, only to have it suddenly become shockingly pornographic! As a culture, it is so prevalent that we don’t see it for what it is. Billboards, advertisements, magazines, talk shows. . . and “walking porn”, via the daily view of girls dressed immodestly, provides a dangerous and publicly acceptable run-in for our youth. Even the glossy news ads with the lingerie section can cause a problem for boys. Public swimming pools are not my friend. Another source that I never considered (until we took our teenage son to Europe) is art museums. We are taught to view nude sculpture of the human form as magnificent. But to a boy, it is still nakedness. It still creates a powerful impression of seeing the forbidden. Home and family life needs to be a haven, a protection and a retreat. Guard what comes into your child’s minds!
My message today: Wake up, Moms. I know this is an uncomfortable topic that it easier avoided, but your children are at risk if you don’t teach and prepare them. Teach your children about the beauty of their bodies when they are very young. Be there for your growing kids, always willing to talk and explain. Be close—emotionally intimate with them. Reassure them that sex in marriage creates the greatest joys possible and that sex is a gift from God to be used at the right time. Safeguard your children from indecent exposure that will bring them misery! We have an insidious enemy on the rampage. Watch out!
*Information presented by experts at the “Stand for the Family” Forum, March 2010, BYU University.