4 minute read

How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn

Last Updated: November 3, 2020

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’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.

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

  • Comments on: How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn
    1. MJ

      So hoping this post helps MANY! Incidentally, I had to confess my own struggle with porn to my Dad. And I am SO GLAD I did! Thanks for sharing my thoughts and encouragement with the world, Covenant Eyes.

    2. Zo

      I am an 18yr old girl who has been struggling with masturbation for 14 years and now porn for just over a year- but I’m that Christian girl that no one, least of all my parents, would ever suspect I struggle with something like this. They’re Christians too and they’re great, but I’m still worried about telling them..!

      • Moriah Dufrin

        Zo,

        Confessing your struggles to anyone is no easy thing, especially when it is your parents. I commend you for wanting to tell them, but I understand your fears in doing so. I would first recommend that you pray. Ask God for wisdom in a) how to tell them, and b) your plan to overcome this addiction. Prayer is a powerful tool from God!

        Be strong and courageous. If God is for you, who can be against you?
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    3. Kenrick

      Please pray for me. I want to tell my parents about my addiction

      • Moriah Dufrin

        Hi Kenrick,

        Your desire to be honest is very encouraging! It is no easy task to share your addiction with others, especially parents. I would encourage you to start with prayer. Ask God to give your parents an attitude of grace and love when you tell them. And when you do approach them, do so in humility!

        If you aren’t ready to tell them yet, do not give up hope. Reach out to someone else you trust for guidance. This can be a church leader, counselor, friend, or other relative.

        You are not in this alone! Stay strong!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    4. Dylan Garrett

      umm, hello. My father is always so mad at me because i’m really clumsy. Once I got in a chatroom on Amino, and my dad found out. He was so mad that i’m only 12 and i could really be talking to a middle-aged man who lives in his mom’s basement and is trying to kidnap and rape me. I don’t know if i’m depressed or not. I might have a memory problem that may be serious, but i’m saying this because i always forget how and why i got in trouble. Then i end right back where i started. I did this because my dad never lets me go over to my friends house, or even connect my ps4 to the internet and play online with him. My dad kept me from my friends and i barely get to see them in school. Now that this whole carona virus thingy is happening, i used Amino to make friends to talk to and relate to. Today my dad caught me masturbating to porn in the shower. He’s already disappointed and angry at me all the time, so tommorow, he said we are gonna have a looooong talk about this. To be honest, i’m a little scared. This was hard for me to share. Can you pray for me please?! Oh, and please respond to this as soon as possible!

      • Moriah Dufrin

        Dylan,

        I am praying for you, that God would give your father and understanding spirit. I pray that God also showers you in peace! May you cling to Him as your ultimate source of comfort and healing.

        Blessings!
        Moriah

    5. colton gunn

      Hello, my name is Colton, I am 13 years old and have been struggling with porn since I was 8, but the addiction has never been as bad as it has been lately. My parents are very strong Christians. And I have been praying so badly that God would heal my porn addiction. I have been watching porn even when I do my online schoolwork because of covid. And to be honest I hate porn, I dispise it! But every day and night I have to watch it, and I hate myself for it. My parents have caught me watching porn before, multiple times, so I am sure that they know I have this problem. But I know that they are under a lot of stress right now and that it will break their heart if I tell them that I have been watching porn. The guilt that porn leaves me is so extreme and the only time I don’t feel guilty is when I am watching it. It is a terrible feeling and a sick addiction, can you please help me have courage to tell them about my problem? Please answer soon, Thanks.

      • Moriah Bowman

        Colton,

        Thank you for being honest and sharing your struggles here! You are not alone! I like to think of porn as a trap. It’s hard to get out of, even if you are trying your hardest to do so. That being said, telling your parents can be a great first step to recovery. Before you do so, pray! Ask God to give you courage, and your parents grace. If it helps to tell a friend or mentor first, do that!

        You are strong! You CAN overcome porn!
        Praying for you,
        Moriah

    6. Victoria Rose

      Hi, I’m Victoria, I am 12 years old and have been watching porn for a year. I know that a year isn’t very long but I just think it’s weird for a girl who just got her period do be horny. It has been destroying my life, and I have no clue what to do. I have a therapist, a girl, who I could talk to but what am I supposed to say? So I have decided to tell my parents about watching porn for the past year. Iv’e had no idea how, because there are four other girls in my house and my dad is always mad and my mom is always tired or annoyed. But this has helped me, wish me luck.

      • Moriah Bowman

        Victoria,

        Telling your parents about your porn struggles can be scary! Before doing so, pray to God and ask him to help you be at peace. I would also encourage you to talk to your therapist about this! I have found that my own therapist has been great at asking me the right questions and helping me to communicate appropriately with those around me, even when I am anxious or afraid.

        I am praying for you! Be strong. You are amazing!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    7. I just saw a glimpse of porn when I was scrolling on a website for school and I closed it immediately I already, told my parents about it but, I am kinda scared that I might get addicted to it like other young kids how do I stray away from that happening?

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi Samuel!

        Thanks for reaching out! Great question. I am encouraged to hear that you are looking to stop porn before there is even the chance for addiction. I also want to commend you for telling your parents! I have 3 suggestions for you!

        First, pray! Ask God to give you a continued desire to turn to Him, not porn.
        Second, keep talking to your parents! Ask them to hold you accountable and check in regularly with how you are doing.
        Finally, if you aren’t already using Covenant Eyes, give it a try! It is an excellent tool for protecting your devices. And you can use it with your parents!

        Blessings! Stay strong.
        Moriah

    8. I’ve been watching porn for a week and I am a Christian and I know porn is bad and I want to tell my parents so that they can help me stop watching porn but, I don’t know how to tell them and I’m scared.

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi Jayden,

        Telling your parents can be difficult, and you are not alone in this. I remember when I was in middle school, I came across an inappropriate image and was so scared to tell my parents. I thought that they would judge me or punish me. But, when I did tell them, they were kind and gracious! We are all sinners. Kids, adults—everyone. Pray to God and ask him to give your parents grace and peace for the time when you do tell them. Sharing your struggles with someone else will make a huge difference in quitting porn.

        I am praying for you!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    9. jordan

      hi! i am a 17 year old girl who has been struggling with pornography for 8 years now. i have told ladies at my church and have prayed constantly. there have moments when i was clean for awhile (the most has been 2-3 months), but it somehow always comes back. but, i never lose my trust in God. even though i fail, He is my Father who loves me no matter what! i am currently clean for a few days and i am so excited to one day be able to share my testimony to my parents. i havent told them yet, but the day that i do will be an exciting day for me. knowing that im free and happy is such an exciting thing to look forward to. thank you for this site and app!! what a blessing to so many!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.