Recently I talked with a close friend about the worry, second-guessing, and panic that accompanies parenting. (We were both on a roll that day.) The conversation hovered around our sweet baby boys who weren’t babies anymore. My friend’s anxiety bubbled to the surface when she blurted out “I don’t know what I’d do if my boys were exposed to pornography.”
In a moment of clarity, I responded: “I want to have wisdom when it happens.”
It’s difficult to think about my babies growing into sexual beings with hearts, minds, and desires all their own. Throw in a highly sexualized world where anything goes, and you’ve got a recipe for a monumental mom meltdown.
Keeping kids insulated from “what’s out there” is an exercise in futility. I protect and guide them to the best of my ability, but it’s a constant battle since the world will do its best to warp their minds. It will hunt them down. It will tantalize them with seemingly cooler stuff that their boring parents, or church, can provide. Despite our best efforts to stick them in a bubble, temptation will find them. Perhaps they will seek it. When this happens, how will we respond?
- Prepare yourself. Growing up Generation X, my teenage peers were sexually active by being…sexually active. Teenagers nowadays walk a blurred line. An article in The Telegraph reports teenage pregnancies in England are down due to increased time on social media. An April 2016 Newsweek article details the declining teen birth rate in the U.S. This good news is quickly extinguished when experts point out some of teenagers’ time on social media includes sending naked texts, or “sexts” to one another. Sexting helps avoiding STD’s and unwanted pregnancies, but that’s a spiritual technicality. Instead of being solely concerned with the outward consequences of any sin, we must also be vigilant with matters of the heart.
- Set the example. What we watch, read, and cultivate in our relationships greatly influences our kids. Some examples are obvious while others are more subtle. I am troubled by the way Christ- followers are caught up in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomena. In essence, the book chronicles an unmarried couple’s dysfunctional sexual relationship, which (I’m told) is written in specific detail. This sends a host of mixed messages to our children: Is this what I should look for in a sexual relationship? Is this the way women want to be treated? Is it okay to receive marital sexual satisfaction from someone or something other than our spouses? We can’t be disgusted over husbands who sneak porn videos, yet applaud wives who flaunt the same behavior. Our kids learn by example. It’s our responsibility to set a Godly one.
- Keep an open door. I’m not thrilled about my kids discovering the facts of life from a horny teenager, disgusting movie, or ill-placed magazine cover. If they come to us with questions, we must be willing to listen – then answer lovingly. It’s imperative these on-going conversations take place under the umbrella of safety and empathy, not shame. In I Corinthians 4:21 Paul writes, “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” Tough love is a must. So is a calm spirit.
- Rally the troops. The “devil made me do it” is a cop out for many things, but not when it comes to our kids’ heart health. Satan’s main mission is to destroy. Asking God to undo evil and guard their spirits is a good place to start.
Still not sure how to handle it? You’re in good company, friend. James 1:5 encourages us to get real with each other and with God. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” He’ll help clarify anything that’s “grey”.