by Jason Nabb
I had a proud “parent moment” the other day. We were driving down Cornhusker highway here in Lincoln, heading to my in-laws for dinner. There’s a certain business along the way that specializes in adult materials. It has these huge banners and signs with scantily-clad women. It’s practically unavoidable. We have this enormous van to carry around my wife, six kids and I, and I often “listen in” on what’s happening in the back. I heard my oldest boy, Simon, shout out to his younger brother, “Look away, Isaac! Look over there!” He was teaching Isaac to look away from the signage of the offensive establishment. Simon is eight, Isaac is six.
Needless to say, I’m geeked.
At their age, I was looking at dirty magazines with my buddy in his brother’s room and spying on the neighbor’s daughters. My kids all know about “bouncing” their eyes and the TV during commercials (hint: set PBS as your “jump to” channel.) My daughters all know the rules about modesty, i.e. how to determine if your clothes are modest. They all know to come ask me if they’re not sure if something is appropriate. My oldest daughter is 11, then 4 and 2. Bedroom doors are only shut, in my house, for the few minutes it takes to change clothes. The computer is in the family room in plain view and nobody has their own email address, facebook or myspace pages, etc. Nobody uses the Internet without strict supervision.
I’m not writing this to brag. I’m writing this so that we all might consider how important it is to establish an open relationship about the impact impure images can have on our souls. I know that all these extra precautions may not shield them completely from the pornographic nature of the world, but equipping them with these habits at such a young age will, hopefully, help them deal with it when they are on their own.
Setting up theses rules also prompts great discussions. I explained to Simon how proud I was of him that he shared the “bouncing” technique with Isaac. I told him he doesn’t understand, now, the importance of such tactics, but when he gets older, his body will change and his feelings will change and he’ll understand better why it is so crucial to have this habit in place. Learning these purity-protecting strategies before puberty is like football practice (he loves football). The coach would never put you in at QB during the big game without ever having you run the plays in practice first. The best time to talk to your kids about averting their eyes and keeping their thought life pure is before they are in the final minutes of the game. We all know how overpowering our own hormones can be. I recommend instilling these habits in your children before it’s too late.
If they understand that it’s okay to talk about temptation, struggles, and “strange feelings” as they come up, then you’ll have the chance to draw nearer to them and affirm purity as a goal to strive for in their lives.
When it comes to purity in your home, you’re the coach. If you don’t know how to play the game, how will you teach your children? You could decide not to deal with your struggles, cover up your immorality and perversions, and maybe even get away with it. That’s one game plan, but if you play this game, you will pass these issues down to your children, and they will have to deal with them. Chances are they’ll play the game the same way you did. Your child’s friends certainly aren’t going to teach them purity; neither are his teachers, nor youth pastors, nor sports coaches. It’s up to you. You’re the head coach in their lives, and you have to make the call.
If you have Covenant Eyes on your computer, that’s great! Talk to your kids about it. Let them know why it’s there. Let them know you are being proactive in keeping pornography out of your home. If they don’t know the steps you are taking to protect yourself and your home, you may as well not take them. I’m in advertising and we always tell our clients: “If your customers don’t know that you offer a benefit, the benefit doesn’t exist.”
Remember, whether they say it or not, your kids want to be like you. They are going to emulate you no matter what you put out there. Grab hold of their hearts and minds while you’re still “cool.” Confess your struggles as they grow older and can understand them. Open up to them and they’ll open up to you. I’ve started out small. They know I used to smoke, for instance. Now, I can talk to them about the hazards of smoking and they know I know what I’m talking about. I take a puff from my inhaler and remind them I’ve got asthma because of smoking. They need to know I’m not perfect. As they grow older, I’ll reveal to them my struggles with relationships, impurity, and many other issues in my life so they will understand that I understand what they are going through.
God’s design for marriage is perfect. My marriage is fantastic. I often wonder what it could be like had I saved myself for my wife, kept my thought life pure while growing up, and had never set my eyes upon pornography. Equip your kids to live a pure life so that they’ll never have to wonder what it would be like any other way.
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This post is by Jason Nabb. Jason owns a production and web development company in Lincoln, Nebraska. He and his wife, Cindy, blog at PurelightParenting.com. They have six children ages 11 down to 1 (every 2 years) and post their findings on all things parenting including insights on finances, health, relationships, purity and more.