When you know your child has been wrapped up in sexual sin—like watching pornography—as a parent, you may fear talking to your children because you don’t know how much to divulge about your own past.
Dr. David Currie addressed this issue with me in a recent interview.
Principle #1: Authenticity is Good
You do not sacrifice your parental authority by being honest about your mistakes and sins. Moreover, authenticity places you in a position to identify with your son or daughter as a fellow sinner. As you see your child bombarded by temptations, you can come alongside them and say, “This is a battle I’ve faced as well. It is a battle I continue to face. I’m in this with you.”
As I say in my book, When Your Child is Looking at Porn, “Contrary to popular belief, by sharing our weaknesses, we are not giving license to our kids to make the same mistakes we did. We are not the standard for our kids. Christ is the only standard of perfection” (p.44).
Give your child the gift of your experiences. Through your own confession, you can shine a light on the dark places that can so easily trip up your child.
Principle #2: Emphasize Grace, Not Your Sin
Authenticity is good, but there’s no need to get into all the gory details of your sexual sin. First, your child won’t benefit from the details they are unable to process or understand. Second, your confession is an opportunity not to aggrandize the sin but to (1) model repentance, and (2) talk about how God rescued you.
“If you used to watch porn, it is appropriate to say so, and it is appropriate to talk about how difficult it was for you. But in the end, the focus should be on how God, in His grace, has forgiven and transformed you. You want to impress on your son or daughter your desire for a pure heart and a pure marriage and that pornography is not the answer” (When Your Child is Looking at Porn, p.45).