3 minute read

Before You Tell Your Parents about Your Porn Struggle

Last Updated: July 11, 2018

Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson (MJ) is co-founder and Dean of Dating at Future Marriage University, where he has a blast sharing practical, passionate Biblical truth about sex, dating, and relationships with college students, youth, and young adults. He also video blogs with his wife, Julie (and sometimes his kids). If you like his writing, you’ll love him live. That’s what his mom says, anyway.

So you’re ready to let the cat out of the bag and confess your struggle with pornography?

Here are a few approaches:

  • Political Strategy: “Ahhhh… I might have a problem with some things I’ve sort of seen accidentally on the computer and thought you would possibly want to be made aware.”
  • Surprise Attack: “Hey Mom & Dad! I just wanted you to know I’m a porn addict.”
  • Adam’s Approach: “The phone which you gave me, it showed me pornography, and so I watched.

On second thought, maybe you should just keep that tomcat in the sack.

No, you know you can’t do that. You can’t continue to pretend porn is just your little pet sin you play with from time to time. You’re past that. Indeed, that little feline has grown so big, it’s claws are sharp enough to shred your soul to pieces. And it has already begun to do so.

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

You need help, your parents need to know, and you need to tell them. But how?

In this post (and one which will follow) I will share three tips, but the first is the one you’re most likely to want to skip. I urge you not to do that, because this first tip is also the most critical to the success of your convo with the parental units. Here it is:

Before You Tell Your Parents about Your Porn Struggle

The Best Way to Prepare to Share Your Struggle

The best way to prepare to share your struggle is to pray. I realize you may have good reason to doubt the power of prayer. We often doubt prayer’s impact when it doesn’t bring to pass what we want or think we need. But that isn’t the purpose of prayer.

Instead, prayer is about bending our will to what God wants and knows we need. And if what God wants is a better plan than yours or mine, this should be very good news. Even if it leaves us disappointed–or worse–still struggling with a sin we can’t seem to shake.

Related: Why Can’t I Stop Watching Porn? 3 Reasons It’s So Hard to Quit

That said, it’s likely you’ve asked God to take away your desire for porn, maybe for months (or years), maybe even through tears, and it clearly hasn’t worked.

Or has it?

What if your petitions are the very things which have led you to realize your need for your parents’ help in finding the freedom you so desperately seek?

So keep praying. Only more earnestly. And more specifically.

Pray for Your Heart

For starters, ask God to prepare your heart for this conversation and what it will require of you, not the least of which is humility.

Fortunately, when it comes to humility you’re already halfway there! Be proud of that!

Just kidding, but seriously, admitting you have a problem requires a great deal of humility.

However, odds are your parents will wind up asking probing questions–or worse–leveling accusations. And when they do, you will be tempted to go on the defensive.

That’s pride right there, my friend, trying to protect “your reputation.” But trust me, you’ll just have to let that reputation go.

You need to care about something far more important than your reputation. You need to care about your character. Your reputation is what others believe you to be, but your character is who you really are. And the sad fact is this: you have been the kind of person who hides dark secrets from their loved ones. And now it’s eating you alive.

“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” –Ps. 32:3-4

Regardless of what your parents or anyone else thought, that’s who you’ve been. But you want to be someone different. And you were made to be someone different! That’s why you’re going to do the courageous thing (something many grownups won’ t even do) and bring your sin into the light!

Your reputation may take a hit, but your character is going to grow stronger. Far stronger. Indeed, I’m praying right now, as I type these words, that God’s Holy Spirit will help you see this and desire this more than a “good” reputation.

Pray for Your Parents

In addition to preparing your heart, you want to ask God for wisdom on how you should approach your parents.

After all, you may have an idea of what you need to say, but the LORD your God knows precisely what words will best communicate your regret, your fears, and your need. You may predict how your parents will react, but a God like ours possesses perfect knowledge so He doesn’t operate off of predictions. You may have suggestions for how they can help you, but God understands exactly what role He has equipped them to play in your freedom from porn.

So before you do anything else, pray, knowing God not only wants your freedom more than you do, He already paid for your freedom with His own blood.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” –1 John 5:14

In the next post, we continue with the other two tips to confessing to your parents.

In the meantime, share your concerns about telling your parents in the comment section below. Or if you already have broken the news to mom and dad and have advice or encouragement, share below as well!

  • Comments on: Before You Tell Your Parents about Your Porn Struggle
    1. MJ on

      Thanks for sharing this! I’m praying again right now that it helps many!!

      Reply
      • Nicas on

        Goodluck mate, be blessed my brother

      • Bethany on

        The Lord freed me from porn right in the beginning of 2021. I was an addict for 7 years. I haven’t told my parents that I was addicted to it. But I want to. Because our Testimony helps others. So yes I will have to tell them. But by the power of the Holy Spirit I know I can.

    2. restored on

      before you tell your parents tell your pastor. Parents want to think the best of you so they will make poor accountability partners.

      Get with your pastor come up with a plan and with your pastor sit down with your parents and confess, and make your parents part of the plan.

      Reply
      • MJ on

        Great thoughts! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      • MARCOS JUNIOR on

        My father is my pastor, so that makes easier and difficult at the same time. I fear God, I wanna love him but this sin has hindered me from loving and feeling his love. I ask God to set me free once for all from this hideous sin amen.

    3. Mathew on

      I have been watching porn and i even think i might have an std, my reputation and even future including my kids might be screwed up, i need comfort and people to pray for me. This email is a personal one so that my parents cant see.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Mathew,

        Admitting your need for help is one of the first steps towards recovery! So, thank you for being honest. Do you have any close friends, leaders, or family members whom you could share your struggles with and ask them for accountability? I would also highly encourage you to download Covenant Eyes and start using our Screen Accountability to hold you accountable to your technology usage. Recovery IS possible.

        I will be praying for you! You are not alone.
        Blessings,
        Moriah

      • Lee mark on

        Yes but i am a child i don’t know to tell my mother she might get mad at me

    4. Eloiza hilomen on

      Uhmm..hi my name is Eloiza I’m from Philippines and I’m an only child and I don’t know how where I discovered watching porn and I’m scared of telling my parents that I’m watching porn sometimes and I want to avoid it but I can’t and I don’t know why, I’m always praying to the our Lord God that He can help me avoid it watching and when I started watching….I can’t watch the whole video because when I watch porn I feel guilty and I feel like it’s not really who I am and it’s really disgusting and when my classmates talking about kissing and others I feel disgusted but when I’m alone my mind always thinks about sex and kissing and everything and I someone’s forcing me to watch it and sometimes I think that I’m crazy and I don’t know why I think of that and I don’t know what is going on with me please help me

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Eloiza,

        Thank you for sharing your heart. You cannot fight this battle alone, and I would encourage you to talk to your parents or another mentor whom you can trust. If you’re unsure how to tell your parents, I want to direct you to this article!

        May God bless you!
        Moriah

      • Tori on

        Hi my name is Tori, I’m not sure if I should add this comment or not but I am going threw the same thing. I hope that everything went well and I’m praying for you

    5. Karla on

      Hi I’m Karla and I really do want to tell my parents about my addiction but I’m really terrified and I’ve prayed to God to help overcome this temptation but it always fails and I think it’s because I need to confess to my parents but I’m just scared of what they’ll say and what they’ll think of me when I tell them or if they’ll start going into conclusions about stuff I do on the daily and judge me about like I just don’t wanna disappoint them so I’m scared and today is the day I cried and realized that I’m actually really terrified to tell them can you help me please ?

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Karla!

        If you haven’t read our blog article “How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn,” I would encourage you to do so right now! It offers three steps towards confession: pray, prepare and plan.

        Blessings,
        Moriah

    6. Lidia on

      Hi, I have been struggling with porn since I was little. I know it is time to tell my parents about it but I’m really scared. Everyone sees me as a this perfect Christian especially my siblings and parents. I’m scared that once I tell them about this that they will look at me differently. Especially since I always have deep conversations with my parents about God. I really love God and that’s why I know I have to do this, but I’m really scared. If your reading this then please pray that everything goes well when I do tell my parents. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Lidia,

        Thank you for sharing your heart! You are not alone in your struggle. Even Christians struggle with porn – we are all sinners! I will be praying for you and your parents. I would also encourage you to pray. Ask God for wisdom and peace.

        Blessings,
        Moriah

    7. Quincy on

      Hi I’m Quincy and I’m 18 years old and I have been watching porn since I was 13. It is painful to watch porn, but it is like a drug it is hard to shake off. I do it because I’m lonely and depressed and that it becomes a struggle for me to stop. I just purchased a porn subscription with my card and now I’m regretting it. Not only I hurting myself, but I hurting my family and if I tell them I fear that they’ll hate forever. I am a sick man seeking for help.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Quincy,

        The first step in recovery is admitting that you are addicted, and you have done just that! Thank you for your honesty.

        If you are afraid to tell your parents at this point in time, I would recommend that you meet with a friend, counselor, mentor, or church leader and share your struggles with them. Having accountability as you fight pornography addiction is very important and will be beneficial to your recovery, even if it’s just one person that you can trust!

        I would also recommend that you work with your chosen friend or mentor to set up Covenant Eyes. This will be an excellent tool to hold you accountable to your online and offline device activity (where most porn is accessed!).

        Blessings! Keep fighting the good fight.
        Moriah

    8. Tyler Stoll on

      My name is Tyler and I have a problem. What I do is almost worse than porn because it is more like a dirty and horrid fetish and effiminency. I am ashamed and have dealt with this on and off for years. I have asked God for help but it keeps wrenching, I want to be free. I know I must tell my parents but I just do not know where to start.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Tyler,

        Thank you for your honesty in sharing your struggles and your desire to be free. Telling your parents about an addiction can be a scary thing to do – you are not alone in that! Before you do anything, pray. Ask God for wisdom and guidance to tell your parents, and pray that he will open their hearts to what you have to say.

        If you are struggling to tell your parents, might I suggest telling someone else first? This can be a sibling, pastor, mentor, leader, etc. This will lift a huge weight off of your shoulders and may make you more comfortable with telling your parents.
        Praying for you!
        Moriah

    9. Latif on

      I’m a 6 year porn addict, discovered it when I was only 11 going into 12 and ever since I tried to stop but its grasp was too firm, I thought I can mange this on my own but lately porn caused me to escalate into genres that usually disgusts me and does not match my sexual tastes, at that point I knew that I can’t fight this alone. So I have decided to tell me parents soon. So, Please remember me in your prayers.

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Latif,

        I am praying for you! I commend you for your honesty and your desire to change. It is my prayer that your parents hear your struggles and respond in grace.

        Blessings!
        Moriah

    10. ab. on

      I’m 13 years old. I don’t even remember how and when i got into porn. maybe 3 years ago. that time i was young and didn’t know that porn is a sin. then i started masturbating. and now that i’m a teenager, i just want to forget every thing about porn. everyone thinks that i’m very innocent but i know the reality. i want my innocence back. i cant live with this guilt of watching porn. i want this to be lifted off my shoulders. i want to tell this to my mom but i feel that she would never talk to me and cry a lot or maybe she will beat me or beat herself. i also don’t want her to tell this to my father. for them i’m just an innocent girl. i’m good in studies as well. but this guilt…… i feel that i would get out of porn with the help of such sites but i think the guilt of watching porn will always be with me. i also don”t have anyone whom i can trust telling about this problem. Please tell me should i tell my mom this or not? please help me.

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi friend,

        Although I do not know the strength of your relationship with your parents, I would encourage you to tell someone about your struggles with porn. This can be your parents, or it can be a close friend, teacher, mentor—anyone whom you can trust and confide in. Ultimately, before telling anyone, pray! Ask God to give you peace through your words. I am praying that whomever you talk to will also respond in grace and wisdom.

        Blessings!
        Moriah

    11. Samuel Balogun on

      Hello I am Sam, I am a young boy who is trying to overcome pornography. I have tried letting go a lot of time and it doesn’t work. I always feel disgusted when I finish watching porn and when people talk about it, but I always come back. I don’t know why. I have tried to tell my parents but I am scared they will punish me for 5hrs to 7hrs. I have gone through their punishments before and it was harsh. I am thinking I should tell someone else I trust about this like my teacher. But I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. I logged into this website so that I can get some answers

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Sam,

        Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and reaching out to our blog for help. If you feel like you are being harmed by your parents, because of your attempts to overcome porn, please reach out to another adult (a teacher, friend’s parent, or school counselor), and immediately let them know what is happening. I want you to be safe. You are not the only young boy in this world trying to overcome porn – there are SO many, just like you.

        If you are not sure who to talk to, or if you continue to be punished in a harmful way, please reach out again on this blog, and we will respond to you. It can be a hard thing for parents to find out that their child is watching porn, but it should never be something that they hurt you for.

        I am praying for you. Please let me know if you need anything at all.
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    12. Kevin on

      Hi my name is kevin and I had been struggling with porn ever since I was a little boy, i had just gone on my dad’s phone and would search up pictures or videos. At that time I wouldn’t masturbate because I hadn’t known what it was or how to do it at the time.Im currently 14 and I had already gotten baptized but havent confessed everything to my parents. And over the years I had started to masturbate at the age of 11 and it just stuck with me ever since and I just never told till this day because I just keep thinking they will treat me differently or judge me in any type of way. The thing that is just making not say anything right now is fear. I just need help please pray for me and my parents. MAY THE LORD GOD BLESS YOU❤

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Kevin,

        We are praying for you! May God give you the courage to confess and your parents the grace to listen and guide you into recovery.
        Blessings!
        Moriah

      • Lee mark on

        The same thing please pray for me and my parents too.

    13. Lee on

      I am was watching porn but i felt gulity but i need god bless me and the lord please pray for my parents so i can tell want i need to get this over with i need somebody can i trust can my cousins help me to fight porn addction in the past.

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Lee,

        Telling your parents is not easy, and I have actually talked to many kids your age who are in the same situation you are. So, please know that you are not alone! I am so happy to hear that you want to change and that you are turning to the Lord for healing. I will pray that God gives you the courage to tell you parents, and that they will shower their love on you in response and help you heal.

        Be strong! You are amazing!
        Moriah

    14. jordan hall on

      I used too watch porn but i thankfully got away from it. The only problem is that im really scared to tell my parents, especially my bishop. I fell guilty about it every morning when my mom drops me off for school and says “Be the good” what should i do???

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Jordan!

        I am so happy to hear that you were able to turn away from porn! Although you have been able to stay away from porn, I do think that it would be wise to tell your parents or another adult whom you trust. They will be able to guide you and help you continue to avoid porn. You are not the only kid who struggles with this. Your parents may be surprised, but they love you and want to see you make wise choices. They were once kids themselves, so it is my hope that they would understand and respond to your confession with love. You’ve already made a wise choice by quitting porn!

        Please reach out here if you need any help. I am praying for you!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *