How to Parent for Purity in the 21st Century

When my wife and I began guiding our children on the journey to sexual purity, I felt overwhelmed. My parents never talked to me about anything other than the most rudimentary “birds and the bees” speech.

I was afraid my kids would run screaming from the room. I didn’t know enough about social media to effectively help my kids in that area. Most of all, I felt disqualified before I began because my own past included so many mistakes with purity. But, I knew my kids didn’t stand a chance in the hyper-sexualized world we now live in. I could not abandon them to wander such danger alone.

Boy using his smartphone on the camping

We as parents don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, it is our own failures in sexual purity that qualifiy us as mentors.

My children now tell me their greatest fear was that we would not understand how they feel. But I do understand. I know what it is like to feel the allure of pornography even though I know it would destroy me. I know what it is like as a kid to be shown pornography by a friend. I know what it is like to feel ashamed at what I let myself see and allowed my mind to imagine. Parents do know what our kids will feel. We have been there. As such, we are the best mentors for them, even if we still have a way to go ourselves.

Related: Failure–The Making of a Mentor

I learned to treat my older children like partners on the journey.

I share with them as much as they share with me. Children are far more receptive to our input when we are as open with them as we ask them to be with us.

One example is our Internet Accountability Reports. Having Internet Accountability software on every device our children touch is a must. However, somewhere between ages 12 and 14, we need to make that a two-way street. In other words, our Accountability Reports are sent to them as well. Sound scary? Think of it this way—not wanting our own child to see us looking at something inappropriate is high motivation to keep it clean. It helps us as well as our children.

We can even share when we allow our minds to wander into unhealthy areas. It happens to all of us now and then, and our children need to know they can admit these things. We can set an example and admit to our children that we, like most adults, sometimes allow sexual thoughts to linger. I don’t mean to describe details, only that they were sexual in nature.

Sharing removes secrecy and diminishes the power of fantasy. The first time I had to admit fantasy to my son I was afraid he would dismiss me as a role model. Instead, his exact words were, “I’m so glad I’m not the only one.” He became much more open after that. Again, imperfect parents make better mentors.

Related: What Your Sexual Fantasies (Might) Say About You

I taught my children they need others to help them on the journey.

My son and I use texting. We text each other any time we feel tempted. Over the years we have come to understand that we are tempted most often when we are sad, lonely or feel rejected. So, now we text each other any time we feel negative emotions, even before temptation occurs. Funny thing, the frequency of temptation really declined after that.

When my son turned 16, I asked him to find others to join his purity journey. He now has three others who get his Accountability Reports, and he meets weekly with another boy his age. He needs to practice managing his own purity before he leaves home.

Related: 3 Accountability Steps to Take Before Your Kids Leave Home

I demonstrate the pursuit of purity is a lifelong process.

No matter how pure we try to be, we will be slimed by unhealthy sexual content from time to time. In this century, we need continual washing, through sharing our experiences with safe people and mutual support. This needs to become part of the culture of our children’s generation if they want any semblance of sexual purity. Our role as parents is to model this behavior. I send my Internet reports to several other men and meet regularly with them to talk through life.

There are many other small tips and lessons to teach children, but these are the overarching principles that have worked well with my own children. This can be done. It is not too hard, and we don’t have to be perfect for it to help our children.