5 minute read

Responsibly Warning Your Children about Porn

Last Updated: August 11, 2015

Sherry Allchin

Sherry Allchin has been in some form of ministry for nearly fifty years, first as the wife of a youth pastor, then as a mother of three and a Christian school teacher. She now lives in Charleston, SC working at the Low Country Biblical Counseling Center. She completed her M.A. in Biblical Counseling and has been counseling individuals and families for over twenty years. Their adult children and seven grandchildren serve the Lord across the country. Sherry is a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Her passion is helping others to grow in their faith and to make life count for eternity!

“Help! I just caught my 10-year-old son looking at porn on his tablet he uses for games!”

“Checking my child’s phone for something else, I came across the sexual pictures she was exchanging with a boy out of state—at least that’s who she thinks it’s with…one she met in a chat room.”

“Our 12-year-old just tried to act out sexually with his little sister. Where did he learn such a thing? And how do we help our daughter now? How does such a thing happen to children?”

“My 18-year-old daughter just announced she wants to be a stripper! When and where did she learn that? How long has she been involved in a sexual world of which we knew nothing?”

Responsibly Warning Children About Porn

Unfortunately, I’m often asked the question by parents of when and how to have “the porn talk” with their children after it’s too late. If there has been a communication breakdown for any reason between parents and child, these talks may have already happened in the locker room at school or on the playground or at a friend’s house—unreliable information at best, and a setup for sexual abuse at worse.

The “porn talk” is too important to randomly drop on your child without much thought, and one that makes many parents even more anxious than “the body development talk.”

Statistically, children are viewing porn younger and younger. It is easy to accidentally access porn websites when children are using computers for schoolwork or even playing games. Sometimes, friends share a cool link they’ve found introducing classmates to porn sites. I recently talked to a mom that pulled her daughter from riding the public school bus because a junior high girl was demonstrating how to give oral sex to a boy on the way home from school with most of the other kids watching and blocking it from the driver.

Parents, we are in a different world. Our children must be warned. Yet we must be extremely careful how we speak of those sinful things not to arouse curiosity that will entice immature ones into the forbidden. Ephesians 5:12 warns us to be careful not to speak of shameful and secret sins, but only to expose them to the light of Christ and His Word.

Start Early. Start Simple.

“But when and how do we begin?” is the question parents are asking. As with all learning, line upon line, precept upon precept is the key. A firm foundation of knowledge and trust has to be in place long before the topic itself is approached. If this foundation is not already in place when one day your child stumbles upon pornography elsewhere, the damage may take years to repair.

When a child is old enough to ask a question, be honest and give an age appropriate answer. For example, when my three-year-old daughter asked how the expected baby brother got into my tummy, an age appropriate answer was that because Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, God gave us a baby to grow in Mommy’s tummy. Though a simple answer, it began to lay the foundational understanding that the covenant of marriage was between a man, a woman and their God, and that children were the heritage of the Lord to be welcomed with joy into that family.

As she asked other questions, I gave answers that were honest, but on her level of understanding—enough but not too much information for her to process. We wanted to help her develop a Biblical view of her sexuality from early childhood. By adolescence, we wanted her to know that sex is good with the right person—her spouse, and at the right time—within the covenant of marriage. God created her as a sexual being not only to produce children, but to share this joy with a spouse, and that it is worth waiting for!

With two brothers in the house, I began to teach her early about body privacy and modesty. She could see that boys and girls were different, and we talked about how God created both in His image, yet male and female, for the purpose of becoming parents and having families to the glory of God. We were laying the foundation for her own marriage and family in God’s time.

But most important, we as parents became her source of information. We wanted open communication about any and every topic she questioned. When classmates talked at school, she wanted to talk to us about their discussions to see if they were correct. That openness paid rich dividends so many times through their teen years as all three of our children came to us with their questions and concerns.

When they were tempted, the foundation was in place to know God’s perspective on the issue. That made them less vulnerable than children or teens with little understanding of their own bodies and their sexuality. Even as young children they knew there was an appropriate familial “yes” touch and an inappropriate “no” touch. They understood that body privacy meant they didn’t show their private parts to others and they didn’t look at others. They knew they could say “No!” to anyone who wanted to violate that privacy, and that they could talk to us about it. As they matured, they understood that pornography is the abnormal and is a violation of those privacy issues we talked about when they were children. Line upon line, precept upon precept.

Monitoring Technology

As soon as children are using electronic devices (which seems to be younger and younger) there must be guards, guidelines, and boundaries in place. Having a filter or parental controls is absolutely necessary! Talk to them about why these guards are necessary. Warn the children about the possibility of inappropriate pictures popping up and what to do if that happens—have a plan in place.

This conversation must take place so that they understand any violation of the plan must be handled as a serious matter. An accidental pop-up that was immediately shut down by the child is handled quite differently than when he searches out those sexual pictures. Children need the accountability of knowing parents are watching and aware of what they are seeing online until they reach moral maturity and are choosing moral purity consistently, whether in thought, communications, or actions.

Parents, even if you assume your child won’t get into porn, don’t assume everyone else’s child won’t! We are warned in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 that the last days would be treacherous for us and especially for our vulnerable children. We may have control and influence over the very young, but as their world expands, the influences on them may be disastrous if they are not thoroughly warned (1 Corinthians 15:33). This conversation may be too late for some by age thirteen, so we must lay the foundation throughout their childhood as we teach and train them, yes warn them, to guard their eyes, their ears, their friendships, their bodies, their hearts and minds.

In Scripture, the established model for change is through the renewed mind (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:17-24). Parents who both teach and model holy living are helping their child to think biblically and to put off sinful habits and to put on Christlikeness. The flesh is drawn to sin in general, and to pornography and all sorts of sexual perversion in specific. Children must be trained to resist wrong thinking that opens them to wrong actions, wrong choices. If any person is to put off pornography or any other sexual sin, he will only put it off and keep it off if there is a righteous replacement. In other words, he must put on a biblical view of his sexuality.

A Vision for Moral Purity

That is why I stressed in the beginning to start those conversations early, to teach them about their bodies as a reflection of God’s holy image, to teach them about God’s plan for families, and to teach them about moral purity. Then pray, pray, pray! Let them know you are praying for them to make wise choices as they grow up. Pray for them and with them about any and all of their concerns. Take time to listen to their concerns, and to just enjoy them as your children. This time is an investment into their lives that will pay rich rewards as they mature into godly young adults.

They will thank you for guiding them into moral purity as they stand at their own wedding altar some day.

  • Comments on: Responsibly Warning Your Children about Porn
    1. Greg on

      Public high school buses were bad enough even back in the mid to late 80s in South Africa, where caning and discipline (much needed!) was still upheld. The accounts shared by parents at the start of this article only confirms my fears that things have gotten much, much worse; especially with the intrusive, pervasiveness of technology.

      It certainly doesn’t solve every problem, but one of the best things I ever did was ditch the public bus and start riding my bike back and forth to school. May God give parents great wisdom and strength in trying to raise their children in today’s sickening culture.

      Reply
    2. Reality on

      Moral Purity? There is no such thing actually and anyone who thinks there exists such a thing is fooling themselves. Our government isn’t moral. Our wars are not moral. Our legal system is not moral. Our hypocrisy about morality is simply not moral. There is absolutely nothing moral about the world and often, those who say they follow Christ are the worst ones. We have made sex taboo in America. Always have. Heck, we were so delusional that up until 1950, movies did not depict a mother and father sleeping together. We literally denied to ourselves how we got here on the planet. Through sex. Our puritanical roots sowed the seeds of what you see today because whatever you make taboo will eventually break out with a vengeance. Tons of examples of this. We are a nation of alcoholics. Why? Our puritan nature once sought to suppress alcohol. We are a nation of addicts? Why? Our brutal never ending war on drugs simply has not worked. I could write about these things for days.

      I think parents are actually living in some type of delusion as to what is going on in America. Teenagers rob, kill, mug, rape, drink, drug, have sex, bully, assault, and cheat. They are doing everything adults are doing and often more. The evidence of this is all around you. Why has this occurred? Because we cling to the 1950s Beaver Cleaver attitude to our “children”. They most certainly are not the children of that era or heck, even my era of the 1980s and 1990s. Until parents come to grip with this, nothing will change. Here is what I find most ironic. There are literally tens of thousands of underage boys in juvenile prisons waiting to go to adult prison because they were held accountable for their choices they made. Yet, somehow, we still cling to this notion that underage people (mainly girls) should not be held accountable for their sexual choices. It is the ultimate hypocrisy really and the ultimate gender bias example. Either they are responsible for their choices or they are not. I tell you what though. If we say they are not able to choose or decide, then we better go release those tens of thousands of boys from the lifetime of suffering that awaits them.

      But here is the real problem. It has been this way for the past 20 years. Now, those kids are now becoming parents themselves. I went to the hospital the other day and there was a woman with her daughter waiting to go into surgery. A little girl who was scared to go into surgery. What was the mother doing? Texting on her phone. Not just for a brief moment, but for over an hour. I go to restaurants and people have entire meals and never look up from their phones. The genie is out of the bottle and it is not going back in.

      I guess my point of my long winded comment is that we need to inject some reality of the world back into these conversations. Until we do so, nothing will get better. Also, we must have a more realistic attitude towards sex in America. I have traveled the world. Few places are like America. Our rigid attitudes toward sex created this mess. I have been to countries with nude beaches and where they had sex on the beaches and they don’t have nearly the problems we do. America is the only country where we have people serving decades long prison sentences for sex offenses against imaginary people. My God. That is insanity.

      By all means, safeguard your small children. That makes sense. But, once they hit their teens, we need to have open and honest discussions about what is going on. I found the 18-year old stripper comment to be most hilarious. If someone seriously said that, then that person was living in a dream world. Just turn on the TV and you will see where she got that idea from and more than likely she has been screwing for four or five years.

      One small final word — everything on covenant eyes places the blame on males. I have not seen one article that has been written that says — hey girls, stop tempting. Until, we address how girls use sex to advance themselves. None of this changes. You better just give it up. Because all you write, won’t matter when some hot girl starts taking off her clothes in high school, college, on TV, in a club, or any of the other hundred ways we see women pushing sex in society.

      Good article though. I dont disagree with it. I just wish we talked more truthfully about things. This pie in the sky attitude about human existence has never existed and probably never will.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Don’t really follow. What about this article is “pie in the sky”?

    3. Juanda on

      There goes adam again blaming eve because he didn’t have enough self control. If both genders lived honestly, but where to begin and who makes the first move? guys till girls they love them to get sex and girls have sex in hopes that the guy will truly love her, respect her, protect her and cherish her. I think many girls are disillusioned that they can use guys like guys use them. girls have witnessed many male figures in their lives lustfully use women and many young boys have learned lusting after girls is a right of passage and using women this way received the message that they were strong men and no longer boys. fathers be serious about their role to be virtueos role models for their sons and protectors of their daughters purity in thoughts, body, heart and soul. With virtuous fathers and mothers, sons will respect their mothers, sisters and all women. A beacon of light to many women who have been wounded by other males in their lives. Daughters will then respect themselves and will look for men who will respect them as their father and brother has respected them and their mother all their life. Will men have the courage to step up and guide, lead, protect, provide and respect the women in their lives? Will women stop falling for the lies of the devil support and encourage the Godly men in your life? Will women submit fully to God’s will and be true handmaids of the Lord as the Blessed Virgin Mary did? Lord grant that all my thoughts, words and deeds be for the love of You and not for the fear of the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.

      Reply

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