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3 Secrets to Raising Porn-Proof Kids

Last Updated: August 10, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

In the American church, pornography has gotten out of control. More than 60% of Christian men say they watch porn at least monthly; 15% of Christian women say the same.

One of the reasons why pornography has gotten out of control is because we have accountability all wrong. We treat accountability as a last resort, not a lifestyle—and then we raise our children with the same mentality.

For many people who use Internet accountability software, it is usually a crisis that gets them there. They get caught. They go too far. They reach a crisis of conscience. Something happens, and they reach the tipping point.

But accountability doesn’t have to be a last ditch effort. It should be the preventative measure we use to keep us honest, attentive, and humble so we never have to face the crisis.

Better yet, we should raise our children to think of accountability as a lifestyle.

Porn-Proofing Our Kids: 3 Secrets

“Porn-proof” doesn’t mean building a protective bubble to keep porn at bay. Unless you plan to seclude your family in the wilderness like some bad M. Night Shyamalan movie, this isn’t an option. Porn-proofing means making your kids ready for a pornified world.

“What you need to do is not cover your kids’ eyes but teach them to see. Install that software in their heads,” says Liz Perle, editor in chief of Commonsense Media. Internet filters, she says, have their limits. What kids need more is a new way of seeing the world that prepares them to say no to pornography.

Secret #1: A Culture of Accountability

For many kids and teens, monitoring them online sounds like a punitive measure. But when accountability is modeled in the home, no one needs to feel like a target.

Our kids learn by watching,” said Jeff Randleman of Deliberate Dads. “If our kids only see us telling them what to do, and not exemplifying it ourselves, they won’t understand the important nature of it, and will come to see us as hypocrites.”

If you want your kids to grow up seeing accountability as a lifestyle, then live it out yourself and teach them why it matters.

What to say to your kids:

“We have Internet accountability software on all our devices in the home. [Accountability partner’s name] gets my Internet reports every week. Right now, I’m not necessarily tempted to go places online I shouldn’t go or see things I shouldn’t see, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about guarding myself from sin, it is this: when you are at your best, plan for your worst. I’m not above temptation—none of us are. That’s why in this home we want to watch each other’s backs.”

When you do this, your kids won’t feel like accountability is a punishment, but just a normal pattern of life.

Secret #2: A Code of Wisdom

According to recent surveys, only 15% of Christians say their parents were their primary source of information about sex—and 65% say their primary sources were their friends, TV, or porn.

Parenting StylesWhen it comes to pornography or the Internet—or anything, for that matter—kids need boundaries, rules, and expectations, and they need to understand how those rules are grounded in wisdom.

How do we set ground rules in a way that really works? Psychologist Diana Baumrind identified four parenting styles, and it is the last style that has been shown to be the most effective: authoritative parenting. Authoritative parenting means giving a high level of warmth and high expectations for your children. Parents like this are very loving but firm. As kids get older authoritative parents encourage independence while maintaining boundaries. They don’t just set a code of rules for their kids, but with their kids. Kids raised in this environment are more likely to be socially responsible, autonomous, and conscientious.

When it comes to the Internet, parents need to be authoritative, setting clear rules but paired with conversations about why pornography is harmful.

Talking to Kids About Porn:

Secret #3: An Atmosphere of Encouragement

There are any number of reasons why kids might start looking at porn, but one reason kids get hooked on porn is because it becomes a refuge for them, a temporary escape from life. Porn offers a fantasy world where kids can enter what appears to be a risk-free environment, a place where they feel in control and temporarily satisfied.

As far as it depends on us, we should strive to make our homes a refuge for our children so our children won’t try to find refuge in other places. What is the overall atmosphere of your home? Is it a place where your kids feel encouraged, affirmed, praised, and loved, or is it more of a place of anger, exasperation, noninvolvement, impatience, distraction, busyness, and self-centeredness? Are you your children’s adversary or their gracious parent? Are you being harsh or severe with them and calling it “exercising your authority”? Or are you the driving engine of joy in the home?

As parents we must show a loving interest in our children in all of our parental oversight. In his book Father Hunger, Douglas Wilson talks about how to do this, explaining that there are two kinds of authority parents need.

  • The first is institutional authority. This is the authority parents have simply by virtue of being parents. It is why God commands children to honor their parents—even if their parents are jerks.
  • The second is personal authority. This is the kind of authority parents have by taking responsibility, showing love, attention, and affection. It is the kind of authority that is earned through personal devotion.

Institutional authority is like having your name on the checkbook. You are the one with the ability to make withdrawals and deposits. You are the signatory on the account. Personal authority is like having money in the bank. You can only get out of the account what you put in.

  • Some parents make the mistake of believing that they can’t possibly be out of money because they still have checks. They demand obedience from their children by virtue of their authority as parents—and they are right, in so far as their institutional authority goes. But they give so little love and devotion, their children are exasperated to the point of giving up.
  • Some parents make the opposite mistake: they think that if they deposit tons of money into the account, they’ll never have to write a check. They have a “just love on ’em” attitude that means they end up being pushovers.

We must be gracious parents, making deposits of love into our kids every day—so our kids won’t be tempted to seek a refuge elsewhere—and making withdrawals by giving them clear boundaries. Doug Wilson comments:

“Gracious fathers lead their sons through the minefield of sin. Indulgent fathers watch their sons wander off into the minefield. Legal fathers chase them there” (Father Hunger, p.185).

A New Generation

We must believe that, as parents, we can raise a new generation of young adults who will have the stamina to say no to porn. Raised in a culture of accountability, with a code of wisdom, and in an atmosphere of encouragement, kids will have the “internal software” to set a new standard in our world.

  • Comments on: 3 Secrets to Raising Porn-Proof Kids
    1. Lisa Taylor on

      Super article. You quote a stat around Christians and pornography use in your first sentence. You don’t cite a source. Can I ask where you got that information from?

      Reply
    2. J. Alucard on

      Accountability? Let’s start with women. Women are simply not held accountable for everything. Okay Luke. I challenge you on this. Go count all the pictures of nude women, go to strip joints, cam shows, personal porn, etc. You are talking about hundreds of millions of women if not billions. None of those women are imaginary. They are pushing sex. Women do it from birth almost. They use sex to get what the want. Then when they can no longer do that, they complain about women who still can. Want to start with accountability? Start with women. Then start with the churches. I hate to tell you but the church is the source of all this deviance. If the church actually made sex less taboo, I promise you things would get better. This epidemic is in America. Puritan America. Everything from promise rings to planned purity is freaking nonsense. It takes out the reality of the human condition. If you stop telling people sex is so evil, then they have better attitudes towards it. They don’t sneak around. They open up about it. They find people they are sexually compatible with. We live in some delusion that sex is not a huge part of a relationship. That somehow life is about doing nothing but going to church, going to work, and then dying. It is such BS. Everything we do is geared towards finding a mate and having sex. There are some people in churches who even deny sex was the way they got here on this planet. Hate to tell people. If you have a prude of a wife who does not like sex. It is a miserable existence. Not having a good sex life is a miserable existence. The bible is male centric. So of course, it is the men who are the problems. But I assure you this, women are equally the problem and if not more so. The evidence is all around you —- from 50 million abortions to the hundreds of millions of them using sex. Until you deal with this. Nothing will get better. Nothing.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Let me see if I can reply to your thoughts one by one.

        1. Should women be held accountable for not seducing others? Yes. No disagreement there. I would say everyone should be (and will be) held accountable for how they live their lives.

        2. I agree that the church should not make sex taboo. We should not make it sound as if sex is evil. No disagreement there. In fact, this is one of the reasons why our business exists: we work with hundreds of churches all over the world who are speaking in honest, refreshing ways about sexuality and why pornography is a cheapened form of it.

        3. I assume by “Puritan” America you’re talking about the America being “puritanical,” not that the Puritan movement of the 16th and 17th centuries was somehow the source of the problem. If that’s what you’re saying, I agree with you.

        4. I agree that if you get married to a prudish, sex-hating person it can make your life miserable. Such people should really think about the unnatural position they hold (and the unnatural position they place their spouse into). No disagreement there.

        5. I’m not sure what you mean about the Bible being “male-centric.” That can mean a lot of things, so I would need some clarity there.

        6. Yes, men and women are both the source of the problem of porn. No disagreement there, either.

        I’m not sure exactly what all of this has to do with the article, but it sounds like you’re saying that before we hold our kids accountable we should hold ourselves accountable—men and women who are contributing to the sexual dysfunction of our nation. I would say that I agree with you, as long as we also hold our kids accountable in the process.

      • Joe on

        I have found that male sexually is a blessing and has many times felt like a curse. There were many years that I was so frustrated with women and how I was not able to get close to them, not able to figure them out, not able to feel that our roles were equal. I used porn to get “even”. Then, things only got worse. Maybe women have an “instinct” or whatever. But any attempts to really get close to a woman never really worked out. Eventually, I met a woman I could trust. I gave up porn, with God’s help. The process has been a very good thing for my life,
        and I am now more free than when I had the porn problem. It took a long time and a lot of effort. But it is well worth it.

      • Jenn K on

        Really you are blaming strippers and porn actresses? MEN are the ones fueling the exploitation of the bodies of poor women with their money. Imagine being a young single mother with mouths to feed. A MAN has deserted his role of father and provider. Night hours work better when you have kids and the pay is very high. Now I’m not absolving women completely. But studies have shown that a very high percentage of strippers and prostitutes were first victims of sexual abuse, again at the hands of MEN. So yes I would argue that this all begins with men in being good fathers, providers, husbands and decent human beings who don’t spend ANY money in the sex industry.

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