How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn

So, you’ve reached the necessary place of maturity or desperation (or both) to recognize your need for your parents’ partnership in your fight for freedom from pornography.

I hate that you find yourself in this place, but I’m so hopeful about your future, because you’re doing the right thing. The freedom you want is possible! But not alone.

In fact, what you’re about to do is so stinking grown up! Do you understand that?

Mature people struggle and even fail, but then they come forward of their own free will to confess their struggles and failures, so they can get the help they need and make amends. Here are three tips to guide you in doing just that with your parents.

How to Tell Your Parents You're Struggling with Porn

1–Pray

If you didn’t know, conversations like this usually don’t go well by accident. This is why you first want to pray for God’s sovereign wisdom and grace over this entire process.

In fact, praying about this conversation in advance is so significant that I devoted an entire post to explaining why it’s so critical and then guiding you in how to pray. (I encourage you to read that post first.)

2–Prepare

In preparation, you first want to clearly consider what you need to confess. Now, this doesn’t mean sharing all the gory details, but you do want to share the facts which will enable your parents to fully understand the scope of your struggle.

Here are some questions to guide you:

  • Tell them about your first exposure: Exactly how old were you? Where were you? What kind of device were you using? How did you find it? Was it on purpose or by accident? How long was your first exposure? What kind of porn did you see? Was anyone else involved or aware?
  • How has your porn use progressed over time? You want them to know at what point you crossed new lines in type, risk, frequency, and/or duration.
  • What are the details of your current use? (Use questions above)
  • Have you been acting out sexually apart from porn use either by yourself or with other people online, via sexting, and/or in real life?
  • What measures have you gone to in order to hide your porn use? (If you hold back on this part, you will continue to give porn a foothold in your life, and it will take it. Gladly. So don’t hold back. Tell them everything.)
  • What do you think draws you to porn? (It’s more than the fact that you have hormones and it’s fun. Check out this post for guidance in answering this question: 21 Lies Porn Uses to Keep You in Bondage.)

I know some of those details may make you cringe to share, but again, this is simply what healthy people do when they want to break free from an unhealthy burden. They confess. Freely. Honestly. Completely.

When you confess your porn use, it will be extremely painful for both you and your parents, but it’s that very painful confession that begins to loosen porn’s hold on your life. For some encouragement, read my story about confession.

Confessing the pertinent facts won’t only prove good for the soul, it will also help your parents help you. It’s incredibly difficult to help someone without all the relevant information. And to be clear, this is the most important part of your conversation: not what you’ve been doing in the past, but who you want to be in the future and what help you will need to get you there.

  • Start by sharing what actions you are prepared to take or changes you are prepared to make to win your freedom. For suggestions, check out this post: How to Quit Porn–6 Essential Steps
  • Then consider how you would propose your parents help you. (Nothing vague, like “I’d like you to pray for me and hold me accountable,” but specific like, “I want you to pray with me every night, keep my phone overnight, and put porn-blocking software on all devices.”) Read this post with your parents on how to set up healthy accountability structures.

Remember! Don’t do all this preparation on your own, involve the God who loves you and can help you prepare for the questions He already knows your parents will ask.

3–Plan

Ever heard someone say, “Timing is everything”?

Well it isn’t everything, but it’s pretty important when it comes to having difficult discussions. That said, you want to plan a good time for this conversation.

On the one hand, the best time to confess a secret sin is generally sooner rather than later. Most people would rather discover you’ve been hiding something from them for a week, than for a year. Or 14 years.

On the other hand, there are usually negative repercussions to engaging in a delicate dialogue like this while you or the other person are worried, rushed, angry, tired, or hungry (WRATH). So plan a time when you and your parents are least likely to be any of those things.

Even better? Give your parental units a friendly heads-up: “Hey Mom and Dad, I need to tell you about something I’m really struggling with and I’d like your help. Can we talk after dinner tonight?”

Basically, plan your timing prayerfully, because God’s timing is perfect, even when it’s dealing with our mess.

Final thoughts:

  • At the end of the day, there really isn’t any “good time” to deliver hard news, so don’t fool yourself into waiting for that perfect movie scene moment where everything can be wrapped up in a five-minute conversation.
  • Unless you live in a movie, these types of conversations take more than five minutes.
  • It would be normal and healthy, for this conversation to lead to others. You took some time getting to where you are. Expect to take some time to get where you want to be.
  • This conversation isn’t really about porn. It’s about your personal wholeness and the health of your relationship with your parents.
  • Don’t expect your parents to respond well. They’re only human. Plus, they haven’t had the time to pray, prepare, and plan for this talk, like you have.
  • Don’t forget God’s going into this meeting with you and will be there every moment, totally present to give you wisdom, peace, patience, understanding, courage, and whatever else you need.
  • If you know another trusted adult to whom you feel safer, confess to them first. They can even pray for you, help you prepare and plan your approach, and even possibly be there with you when you talk with your parents.

Know that as I write these final words, I am praying for you! And if you’d like me to pray for you specifically, comment below or reach out to me at my email on our website.

Here’s some final encouragement from God’s word: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:31-32

Related: To the Teenager Alone and Ashamed Because of Your Porn Use