Defeat Lust & Pornography teen boy sitting on bed with smartphone
Defeat Lust & Pornography 4 minute read

How to Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn

Last Updated: November 3, 2020

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

  1. Super

    I’ve been watching porn since, about the 15th of July of 2022. I want to stop, and I’ve tried but it’s like it’s calling to me and it has changed me in horrible ways. My parents found out before and it was just small things, but it has grown to large things even though I know it’s acting I’ve stumbled across stepdaughter/stepfather/stepbrother/stepsister porn and I feel horrible and guilty about those videos. I’ve even stumbled across same sex porn and watched that too, I just feel like I’ll be going to hell for watching those kinds of videos. I feel if I tell my parents I’ll be shunned though, especially since they have an app that shows them all I’ve looked at. Please help me.

    • Keith Rose

      Hello, thanks for sharing your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your struggle, I know that must be so difficult. Two things that are important to remember: you’re not alone and you need other people to come alongside you to win this fight. Have you tried the steps in this post?

      Blessings,

      Keith

  2. Jasen Agov

    Hello, I’m 11 year old Czech boy struggling with porn Addiction for one year. I want to stop, watched some guides, and it worked partially. Because, yeah, i could stop watching porn for few weeks, perhaps one month. But i couldn’t make it more, and my mind was still sometimes thinking dirty, so it did not get better. I’m scared to tell my parents. They discovered me once watching it, they were angry but since it was the first time they saw it, they did nothing to me. But as I said, i am scared, what would my dad or mom do, if i would tell them.. When I’m thinking about it for long, im almost crying..

    • Keith Rose

      Hi Jasen! I’m so sorry to hear of your struggle, and it sounds like a difficult relationship with your parents. Maybe there’s a pastor, teacher, or youth worker you could speak with first, who could help you have this conversation with your parents? We’ve also made a lot of resources for parents to help them understand the issue better, and how they can help you overcome temptation. Maybe you could share one of these ebooks with your parents.

      Remember, you’re not alone! We’re here to help anyway we can, and there are thousands of others in this fight who are just like you.

      Blessings,

      Keith

  3. Carter

    I have struggled with porn since the age of 9. Now I’m 11 and I watch it daily. I got it off my friends when they sent me a link with porn on it. I have just been watching it over and over again because of the teen girls. It is getting out of control and I need help

    • Keith Rose

      Hello Carter! Thanks for reaching out to us. Have you tried talking to your parents yet? It’s really important that you reach out for help as soon as possible. I know it’s hard, but the longer you wait the more of a hold porn is going to have on you. And we have lots of resources for parents if they need help!
      Blessings,

      Keith

  4. None

    So um im not gonna say my name but i am a 13 year old girl who, thankfully, is finally free of porn and masturbation! I was really grateful that I shook this addiction off, even if it only lasted for a few months. However, I recently have felt God urging me to tell my parents. I know I’ve made peace with God, but I’m still scared. It all started because a few years ago my older sister got some kind of mental illness, and then it felt like my parents never had time for me anymore. I was already in middle school, but they never gave me the birds and the bees talk. I didn’t wanna feel “uneducated” I guess, so I looked up sex one day. I found all these articles, but then wanted to see what it actually looked like. I truly regret it, but my family is super religious and I’m worried they will judge me because I’ve always been their perfect straight-A, Christian little girl. I know I should tell them, but I don’t have the courage yet even though I’ve been praying to God for it. I hope the day will come soon when I can tell them, but anyways thank you so much for just listening to my thoughts.

    • Moriah Bowman

      Hi friend!

      Praise God that you are free from porn and masturbation! That is amazing! I know that other kids your age will read your comment and be so encouraged by it.

      It’s okay if you aren’t ready to tell your parents yet. Keep praying and asking God for the right time to tell them. I’ll be praying this for you as well!
      Blessings,
      Moriah

  5. Luke

    I am 11 years old, almost 12, and I have been struggling with porn for the past 4 months. I feel terrible, and I have really tried to stop. Through porn I came across masturbating, and have been masturbating since mid-September. I want to tell my parents, and I am scared of what they will think of me when I confess. I don’t know what to do. I also just told my parents I have been goofing off in zoom class, and I am scared to tell them another thing they do not know about me.

    • Moriah Bowman

      Hi Luke,

      Thank you for being bold and honest and asking for help! Please know that you are not alone! There are many other boys and girls your age who are struggling with porn too. Telling your parents about this can be scary, but I’m so proud of you for wanting to tell them and trying to stop. If you are not comfortable telling your parents, perhaps there is another adult you can talk to first? I do think that your parents need to know, but you tell them when you are ready. I will be praying that God gives you the courage to tell them and that they will listen to you and help you overcome this.

      You are strong! You are worth it!
      Moriah

  6. Levi

    I have been dealing with porn for a few months, more specifically about five and a half months, and i have tried and failed time and time again to quit. So I have decided that I am going to tell my mom in two days on Wednesday October 1st. And set up covenant eyes screen accountability. Please pray for me. I can’t sleep I’m so nervous.

    • Samantha Groll

      Hi Levi,
      We are praying that it goes (or has gone, if you’ve already told her) well for you.

      Blessings,
      Samantha

  7. Bela

    I also have the same struggle as others. Although in my situation ive already confessed to my mom about porn before…after a few months i thought the stuggle was finished, i even became closer to God too after that…but just then a few days ago these old habbits came back (masturbation/porn). Although I’ve stopped again now, and I feel as dirty as before and my mom also noticed that somethings off with me. The 1st time I confessed to her she took it well and explained to me how Holy our body was etc., but somehow after that her trust on me went down. Like during whenever I’m doing nothing she’d remind me that I might be tempted again and that i better do something to distract myslef, those sorts of things. As of now I know I should tell her, although i just don’t feel ready for her trust to go down on me again. Especially with the fact that this time includes masturbation. I really dont know if she could take it this time.

    • Caleb

      Hi. I’m a 15 yr old boy, I have been addicted to porn and masturbation since I was around 12. It started when I poked around some websites, but now it’s full blown into a daily thing. I’ve always wanted to quit, because my family is a Christian family and I know this is horribly wrong. I prayed and told my church cell group leader and it did help, but the longest streak I’ve ever had was 1 week abstinence. I know without my parents I can’t do it. But it’s just so hard. I’m pretty sure they are going to be infuriated, especially my mom. They want me to be a godly person, but I’ve hidden this from them for years. I can’t bear facing that kind of shame. Do you have any tips on how to allay my fears?

    • Keith Rose

      Hi Caleb,
      Thanks for reaching out. I know it can be really scary to admit your struggles to your parents – I’ve been there too! It’s scary because it’s hard to talk about these things with your parents, and it’s scary because you don’t always know how they’ll respond. We have another post that offers some encouragement before you talk to your parents about your struggle. See here. God bless you, I’m praying for you!
      God bless,
      Keith

  8. Ray

    Hello, I’m Ray. I’m 14 years old.
    When I was very little my babysitters kids taught me what sex was. I was a toddler at the time. But it always stuck to me. As I got older say around 8 I began to watch women giving birth. Idk why i just liked it. Then I was around 10 or 11 when I went to visit my cousin and she told me how her and her friend watched porn and liked it. Then I got curious. So me and her started watching porn. I guess I just liked the feeling it gave me. At the time I watched it on her phone. Then when I got home I was bored and thought to myself what if I just went on MY phone and watched a couple. Not a lot just a couple. Then that’s how to addiction began. I’ve had it for years. I was in a public school for the first time ever. I didn’t know much about sinful desires until I met the people around me. I’ve grown up in a Christian safe environment and didn’t know about how hard the real world was. And apparently my faith wasn’t in good shape. I fell into the worldly desires. Fell away from God.. right now though my parents put me in a Christian school. Thankfully. But now that I’m Getting closer to God I realize how much it is important to quit this addiction. I DO NOT want to tell my parents A THING. to me I think to myself “what if I just stopped and never did it again and completely moved on?”
    “Then I couldn’t feel too much ashamed.”
    “Just a t like it never happened.” But I don’t think my thinking was all correct. Idk what to think though. I can’t tell if the devil is speaking to me or God or if it’s just me. Anyways. I just don’t want to tell them I don’t want to see them disappointed in me. But I feel like I owe it to them. Also I feel like if I don’t tell them God will be mad at me and I’ll go to Hell or I won’t be a good Christian. No matter what else I do no matter how close I get with God I feel like if I don’t confess to my parents he will never truly like me. Or accept me. Or allow me to go to heaven. Or bless me. Or be by my side. I’m always constantly worrying that they are going to find out. I’m constantly worrying about making God happy. I’m constantly worrying and crying and asking for forgiveness. But it all repeats. It’s all a never ending cycle.
    Pleaseeee pray for me and respond as soon as possible please!

    • Moriah Bowman

      Hi Ray,

      First, I want to thank you so much for reaching out on our blog and asking for prayer and advice! That is an incredible first step towards quitting porn! One thing I really want you to understand is that you, even at 14 years old, are not alone in your struggle. I have heard stories from many kids your age who also struggle with porn. You are young, and there is no better time than now to quit porn!

      Telling your parents is hard, I know. I remember when I was your age, I didn’t even want to tell my parents that I had lied to them about my homework. Talking about porn with your mom and dad might seem awkward and scary, but they love you. And there is a good chance that when they were your age, they struggled too!

      Before you take any next steps, pray to God and ask him to give you the peace and strength to overcome porn and maybe even tell your parents. The power of prayer is truly amazing! God will never reject you. He is not going to send you to Hell because you are struggling with porn addiction. You are God’s child, made in his image, and through him, you can be free from porn!

      I want to leave you with some encouragement from Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

      I am praying for you, Ray! Please feel free to reply if you have any more questions or need encouragement.
      Moriah

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