Culture of Death, Evangelization, Family Life, motherhood, Parenting, Pornography

Porn proofing our kids: Emotional investment {part 1 in a series}

April 12, 2016

This topic near and dear to my heart. I have 3 little boys, 2 nephews, 2 brothers, and 1 husband. And too many male friends to count.

I also have one daughter. 4 sisters. 4 nieces, and the list goes on.

Pornography isn’t “someone else’s problem;” it’s our problem. It’s my problem and your problem and the guy across the street’s problem. It’s your barista’s problem and the 2nd grade teacher’s problem, and it might just be your spouse’s problem, too.

If you don’t think it’s your problem? That’s probably because you’ve yet to have an incredibly hard conversation with someone close to you who may be, at this very moment, drowning in shame and overwhelm and addiction, unable to reach out and unsure of where to turn for help.

I was in a conference call this morning where porn was referred to as “the pandemic of our age.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

An entire generation of men (and women) enslaved spiritually, psychologically and physically to an addiction as strong as cocaine, and as readily available as sugar.

It’s a strange time to be raising kids, in a culture that both objectifies women (and men, but let’s call the spade by it’s given name and admit who the biggest losers in the porn game really are) while simultaneously calling for their empowerment via the shedding of all sexual and cultural norms regarding modesty.

I won’t attempt to make the case here for what’s wrong with pornography, because I’m going to assume we’re all on the same page there, whether your convictions stem from an emotionalmoral, religious, or  psychological perspective.

What I do want to talk about is how we best equip and instruct our children for navigating the dangerous digital jungle. And the checkout line. And prime time television. And the school bus.

The average age of first exposure to pornography is around 9 years old, as best I can tell from my online and in person research. That gives me a little over 3 years to prepare my oldest son for his first encounter with porn. Most first exposures are accidental. Something might pop up on Youtube, or in a banner ad, or even via a misspelled or poorly thought out search term.

Notice that I didn’t say “if,” but “when.”

Because our kids will be exposed to porn. And it’s not enough to cancel your Victoria’s Secret catalogue (not that it’s actually possible to do that. They’ll keep sending the damn thing no matter how long ago you shopped there, and how many times you ask their customer service department). Nope, we’ve got to be proactive and reactively tactical as parents of baby … Millennials? (What are our children, exactly?)

First and foremost, the most essential part of the porn-proofing equation is … you.

A child who is affirmed in his or her intrinsic goodness and worth and dignity by his mother and father is less likely to go seeking out pornography.

Will he be immune to the lure of it? No. Of course not. And yes, he still might come upon it if you live in a city or a suburb or a village on a mountaintop with internet access…. but on the whole, kids are less likely to go looking for it on purpose when their basic emotional and psychological needs are being met at home.

And hopefully? They’re more likely to click away when they do happen upon it.

So we love up on these kids and let them know that we’re here, that we’re safe and trustworthy, and that we’re available for spur of the moment heart to hearts and annoying butt-ins and one million questions all day long. Because that’s how these little people give their hearts. And we have to be willing and ready to receive them. As an introvert this is hard times a million. I like my space! I like my down time!

But I can’t have as much of that as I want while they’re awake. And some days I acknowledge this with more grace than others. And the other days? I pray to God for selective amnesia in my offspring so they’re not dissecting my awful parenting via group hologram sometime 20 years down the road, one-upping each other with stories of How Mom Screwed Us Up.

(Dare to dream, right?)

The fundamental health of our relationship as parent and child is critical to that child feeling secure and capable of one day coming to us with harder stuff than “I accidentally spit in my brother’s mouth.” And even when it’s hard and it’s yucky, we need to be the ones who they can come to and ask for help, for guidance, and for forgiveness.

The second piece of this looks like intentional, one-on-one engagement between opposite sex parent and child. Sons need to be loved and praised and recognized in the goodness of their masculinity by their father, yes, but also by their mother. 

Boys who don’t experience a strong connection with their mother are more vulnerable to a pornography addiction as they seek out the disordered approval and love of women

And daughters? Yep, you guessed it. They need dad telling them who they are, what they were made for, and why they’re so good.

There is no way for us to prevent our kids from seeing porn, but we can lay a foundation of unconditional love that will invite them to come running when they do see it, so that we can talk it through with them.

Pray with your children and for your children, and for their sexuality, their emotional health, and their hearts. Ask their patron saint or namesake to intercede for them as you entrust that particular child to God’s mercy and providence, knowing that despite our best intentions as parents, we’re still not going to be able to protect them from everything. 

But that won’t stop us from leaving it all on the field in the effort, right?

Up next: Practical resources for having “the talk” about porn, and for monitoring internet usage at home in a mentoring style, so that your kids learn to monitor it for themselves.

porn proof

 

{part 2}

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36 Comments

  • Reply Lucy Robinson April 12, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for opening up this conversation. Our son had a delayed but inevitable exposure at the age of 12 after a friend commented about it.. He was curious. The following please filter through your own discernment, but I think that the best thing that ever happened in the whole messy business is that my husband and I typed in the words “porn” into Google (which had web protection installed) and actually SAW what our son was looking at. We needed to know our enemy. As awful and disturbing as it was, we needed to walk that path before we could equip our son with he tools he needs. This was a really hard thing for us to do. I thought I knew what porn was, but I really had absolutely NO idea. We were culpable and not properly protecting him through deliberate ignorance on our part of the filth that he could be getting exposed to.

  • Reply Karen Hettrick April 13, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Hello Jenny,
    I am wondering if we can have permission to feature this series on our website as long as just a portion is featured and linked back to your blog. We have been working at educating and providing resources on this topic for families for the past couple of years. I appreciate your efforts and would like to spread both your words of encouragement and the resources you have provided.
    Thank you and God bless you for the work you are doing:)

  • Reply Ari April 13, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Theology of the Body, Theology of the Body, Theology of the Body!! I’m empowered because I recently heard Christopher West speak in person for a second time. He talks about the “spiritual” way that most of us were raised – a starvation diet, physically/sexually speaking – and the fast-food junk that our culture feeds us. We are called to the banquet. Knowing who we are equips us to teach the next generation who they are. These desires are natural and GOOD, we just have to point them in the right direction, or it is deadly. I think we must be so grounded in this truth and teach it to the next generation that they will recognize the junk food diet immediately.

    Also, this is a problem for men AND for women. Many women are also addicted. And many gay men are exploited in the making of this stuff, not just women. Perhaps more women than men are exploited, but I would disagree with you on that one point. I think we are ALL losers when it comes to this. (I would concede that the enemy seems to hate women more.)

  • Reply Kathleen April 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Jenny, I’ve commented on your blog before on this topic & so don’t want to get into great detail about my personal experience, but suffice to say, porn almost destroyed my marriage. My husband and I are devout Catholics, receive the sacraments regularly, and live out all of the Church’s teachings. My husband is an alumn of Franciscan U in Steubenville. On paper we are “good” people, but the evils of porn snuck their way into our lives still. It is positively a pandemic and there is no – and I mean NO – such thing as “a little porn”. it’s destructive, on every level, as you point out: emotional, mental, psychological, physical, and, not least of all spiritual. thank you for raising awareness on this topic!!
    My husband & I recently participated in a pilot for my parish on marriage enrichment. We did the BELOVED course by Augustine Institute. It’s offered through FORMED.org as well. It’s very powerful and very effective. My personal experience with porn was very traumatic, but we’ve found that by focusing on God’s plan for marriage, and participating in adult faith formation programs like BELOVED, are necessary tools in keeping a Christian marriage healthy & strong. Matt Fradd is another great resource.
    My children are 5 and I do worry about how to protect them from the dangers of porn…thank you again for this series.

  • Reply CNG April 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    It is an absolute scourge. My son, age 9, was exposed recently. A boy had a phone and showed him both scary Youtube videos and porn. One can lock down the internet in one’s home – I recommend a filter on the router. Opendns is a good solution. However, smartphones and tablet often have wide open internet access via a network carrier. So…every kid with a smartphone is walking around with a potential porn theater. Not just photos but videos too. Not just HBO type porn but the most awful, evil garbage imaginable. Ugh.

  • Reply Lauren M. April 13, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks once again for your writing. What you do is so important.
    I felt compelled to mention a few things though. I struggled with pornography since the age of 9. I still consider myself a “recovering addict” though only a very few close people even know this was a struggle of mine for the majority of my life. I just wanted to mention that, for me, it wasn’t that I didn’t receive enough love from my father. He was absolutely one of the most amazing influences on my life, and he made sure that I knew that I was loved, beautiful, and valued every single day of my life, and he instilled the teachings of the theology of the body in me the best he could. Still, this was a painful and burdensome struggle–one that I had to confess over and over again and seek to remove from my life, with the GREAT and gracious help of God’s grace, for a very very long time. Since I struggled with this so much I was very intrigued and inspired by the TOB teachings, and have now just finished my Masters in Theology. I mention this because I want to point out that I struggled with this well through all of my knowledge and love for the teachings. The hold that pornography has over your mind and your bodily reactions is very much intoxicating–I know why they say it is like an addiction to drugs. My point is: if my parents (mom, or dad) had just asked, asked, asked and continued to ask over the years if I looked at pornography, directly, how much easier it would’ve been for me to dispell of that addiction much earlier on. A huge part of the burden was carrying it on my own and feeling like I was the only one in the world who did it and that no one (let alone my parents) would ever understand. Especially for girls, this is a huge problem–there is such a stigma. So, I would add for all the parents out there: ask your kids if they look at pornnography. Let them know that you are willing to work through it with them. Let them know they are not alone. Lead their natural sexual desires in the light of God’s truth. Give them someone to talk to about it, as awkward and uncomfortable as it is. Open the door for them to be honest and comfortable so they can be helped. Even if they don’t tell the truth, if you continue to offer that opening for them, one day they will come to you. I would have…

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing April 13, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      Yes, yes, yes!! Praising God for your humility and openness in shedding light on this. I am definitely going to be touching on all the points you mention in the forthcoming installments of this series. I for sure don’t want people to click away thinking that only unloved, unaffirmed kids look at porn, because that’s totally not fair. All our kids are vulnerable, and we ourselves are all vulnerable! Communication, mercy, and unconditional love. So essential.

      • Reply melissa April 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

        Instead of repeating everything that Lauren so beautifully said, I will just say “ditto” to all of it. I struggled to and I had some great parents and was a “youth group kid” all through high school. Every retreat we went on that did a mens and women’s session went like this : the women talked about inner beauty and the guys got into all the nitty gritty of porn and sexual sin. Talk about feeling like the only girl in the world to struggle with this stuff. But truly, no one is immune. Since I’m not naming anyone , and I don’t think she would mind I will add I also have a very close friend who struggled with this as well and she is now a sister. This is a problem across the board and I think it’s so important for kids to know that they aren’t alone in it. Now having three kids of my own k worry about how we will approach this so I am eager to read the rrest of the series. Thanks!

  • Reply James April 14, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Interesting post, and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

    You state, “A child who is affirmed in his or her intrinsic goodness and worth and dignity by his mother and father is less likely to go seeking out pornography.”

    How do you know this? You provide no evidence that this is true.
    Thanks

  • Reply Patrick Coffin April 14, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Magnificent post, Jenny, and uber-honest comments. The missing link: GET PORN BLOCKER ON EVERY DEVICE. Most habitual porn use is all about access. Take that away and the problem (while not absolutely removed forever) goes pretty close to zero from moment you install it. We have Covenant Eyes (go to covenanteyes.com and put “PATRICK” as the coupon code and you get a free 30-day trial) and I can not imagine family life (we have kids) without it. Also excellent is the book “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” by Kristen Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner. Moms and Dads need to be the ones who first tell children about pornography — to porn-proof them/ We need to let go of the fear of “creating unhealthy curiosity” — the book shows how. I interviewed Kristen here about it: http://www.catholic.com/focus/34

    • Reply Jennifer April 18, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you so much for the recommendations! I just ordered the book and will be glad to be able to read it with my children.

  • Reply Nawaf April 14, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the article! Very important topic.

    On the specific issue of pornography, I’d like to extend some hope to any parents who may be discouraged at the seemingly inexorable onslaught of pornography.

    The hope comes from the fact that I myself was a child exposed to pornography at age 6 (which was in 1999) and I spent ages 6-14 ingrained in pornography without ever once questioning it (my parents were completely laissez faire).

    Becoming aware of my enslavement, I eventually discovered stoic philosophy (of which many Fathers of the Church borrowed from) and began pursuing virtue and eventually converting to Catholicism.

    Anyways, I spent 8 years a slave and nobody ever told me that pornography could maybe be detrimental or that there was any benefit to reading philosophy and pursing virtue. I eventually challenged myself to abstain from pornography, just to see if I was in control, and realized that it controlled me.

    Over time, not with anybody’s help (except ancient philosophers) I realized pornography is revolting, the Church knows freedom, and that just about everything I ever wanted was on the other side of lust.

    Anyways, if your children are currently losing the battle against pornography, know that God is our Father! He can work with them as long as they’re honestly open to seeking the truth. That’s the first step!

    St. Augustine never wrote this, but it’s a nice mis-quote: “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself.”

  • Reply LG April 15, 2016 at 6:58 am

    This topic interests me for all kinds of reasons. One thing you say was an aha moment for me even at my advanced age. Why had I been so vulnerable to this business? This was in the fifties, a supposed age of innocence. My mother and I had a wonderful relationship until I was maybe eleven or twelve. Then once when she was pregnant I asked her where babies come from. She hesitated and then she told me, “from between the legs.” But she asked me not to tell anyone else, and I promised. But of course I did to one of my neighborhood buddies when the topic came up, thinking that it would never get back to her. Incredibly, within a few months my friend and I were in our kitchen[where he never was either before or after this incident], and apropos of nothing my friend challenged my mother on the subject. She looked at me. So when the reading comes up about Jesus looking at Peter after his betrayal, I am definitely in the moment. But that was the end of our beautiful relationship. I was cut adrift.

    The incident was for her a revelation of who I was, what my character was, but looking back on it I think that assessment on her part was a huge mistake for the both of us. My character was still very malleable, very teachable, but she did not take it as a teachable moment and rebuke me, or counsel me. She cut me loose. With that I was on my own emotionally and found solace where I could.

    My wife and I are reading a life of St. Bernard (by Fr. Ailbe Luddy) , one of the greatest saints of the Church. One prominent theme is his strong and beautiful relationship with his very sensible and pious mother, Aleth. It is clear that he was who he because of who she was. And even he in the early 1100’s had to contend with strong temptations to impurity. Of course grace is decisive, but grace builds on nature. He had the inner emotional resources with which to contend . And I don’t doubt, too, that one of the thoughts underlying his strong resistance was, “What would my mother think?”

  • Reply Ab April 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    My son is in kindergarten. I just heard that one of his classmates had a picture of a woman in a swimsuit on his (school provided, content blocked) iPad. I don’t want to be having these conversations with my son this early, but it seems there is little room for innocence these days.

  • Reply This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 154 (First Holy Communion Edition!) April 15, 2016 at 1:29 pm

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  • Reply Ally | The Speckled Goat April 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Cleaning out a shed yesterday (on our new to us property), I opened a drawer and found a Hustler. Ugh! Straight to the burn barrel.

    It’s amazing how prevalent this problem is- and it’s certainly not new- just more accessible.

  • Reply LG April 15, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    There are a couple of things I would stress, too, at this stage of the discussion, before getting into the nitty gritty, the practical aspects of keeping porn from your child.

    St. Paul somewhere speaks about those who give themselves up to sensuality out of despair. As alarming and as counter-intuitive as it might seem, despair, hopelessness can be a real threat to your child and can have devastating effects on his moral life. My CCD class told me of a twelve year old boy at their school who hanged himself because things were not going well for him: he got poor grades, his girlfriend broke up with him etc. Of course, we are only talking about sexual suicide, here, for such is the habitual use of pornography, but it is a form of suicide that can easily lead to eternal damnation. I really disagree therefore with Patrick Coffin that the fundamental problem is access.

    The fundamental problem is the spiritual and psychological vulnerability/ misery which gives credibility to Satan’s suggestions to seek porn out, to give up the moral struggle and to relax into what pleasure life has to offer. I doubt very much there is any child of our time who does not go through some very dark times over such issues as sexual identity, grades, rejection, poor body image, being too tall, being too short, not being athletic, being a “nerd,” not being a nerd, being bullied etc, etc, etc. All this has to be offset by a strong, loving family life, a strong prayer life, the sacraments, success at something (grades, sports, a musical instrument, something . . .), and a very strong formation both in Catholic doctrine and the lives of the saints. Most critical is the formation of the imagination, where your child has a fund of saintly example to draw upon when first confronted with almost overwhelming temptation to mortal sin. St. Jose’ Maria Escriva says something like, “St. Bernard threw himself into a pond of cold water, St. Francis into brambles, and you . . .what have you done?” Of course these remedies are extreme, but Our Lord indicated that we should go to extremes to avoid sin. Our particular culture is constantly leading us into extremes, but always under the color of moderation. For example, we are told that Hillary Clinton has a moderate view on abortion, but Rick Santorum’s is extreme. Similarly all the remedies I have suggested here are easily characterized as extreme, but we live in an extremely sex-saturated society and can only avoid being submerged in it by going to saintly extremes.

    It is not as if porn is restricted to the internet. As Ally noted above, she found a copy of Hustler in a shed on their new property. If that had been instead your thirteen year old son, how would Covenant Eyes have protected him then? For that matter there is the very soft, entry-level porn that pours into practically everyone’s home via TV, catalogs (and not just Victoria’s Secret, either), newspapers, etc. This to me is the real problem, not the hardcore stuff. No one starts off with heroin, but marijuana is the entry level drug, and as such it is where the problem really is.

    Your child very likely already has access to enough porn to seduce him and to incite him to seek out something ever more exciting, if not at home then in the public library, at a friend’s house. Hypersexuality is practically the air we breath. Of course, it is wise to take what practical steps can be taken to limit access, but the critical thing is to raise a saintly child who INSTINCTIVELY flees from the first whiff of this delicious doom, or rather who has enough sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and sufficient habits of self-denial to overcome it when surprised by serious temptation. And surprised he will be.

    Luddy reports that Aleth cultivated habits of self-denial in her sons, and this is critical, too. In Opus Dei, I know, people are encouraged to deny themselves something at every meal. Perhaps salt; perhaps a second helping of meat; perhaps dessert. This is excellent training for the will in an area dealing with sensuous enjoyment, and it is something a family could joyfully undertake together, and for some good purpose such as a prayer for someone’s healing be answered. . It would stand your children in good stead without depriving them of anything necessary for good nutrition.

    However what very often happens, I fear, is that many Catholic families are gathered round the TV on weekends eating pizza followed by bowls of nachos, a soft drink, etc, etc. etc. I know it sounds puritanical, but this is sensuous indulgence and an inevitable weakening of the will. One does not arrive at chastity by indulging gluttony.

    But enough . . .

  • Reply PATRICK WELLS April 16, 2016 at 12:24 am

    If you want to porn-proof your kid then you train them from as young as possible to be action oriented, athletic, outgoing, and assist with a high social status. If by the time they are in high school they are confident, competent, and DATE successfully with real social skills they won’t turn into inveterate masturbating introverts stuck in their rooms on Friday night with nothing but screens for company and no hope to attract a mate.

    • Reply Elizabeth April 30, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I agree that we need to be raising children who are active and engaged with their community but I think you’re wrong in saying we need to be raising extroverts, not introverts. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Being inclined to introversion does not mean you’re doomed to a life of private masturbation me-parties. Introverts desire community but then they need to renew themselves with times peaceful solitude. Our jobs as parents is to understand where our children fall on the extrovert/introvert spectrum and guide them to healthy ways of recharging. Forcing them to be someone they aren’t will only add fuel to the porn fire.

      • Reply Jenny Uebbing May 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        As a dyed in the wool introvert who can hardly believe how much interaction motherhood requires…I heartily approve this message 🙂

    • Reply Michael March 21, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Patrick Wells, having observed the lives of both introverts and extraverts, and having spent parts of my life in both ‘worlds,’ I simply can’t agree. First, there plenty of popular and athletic people with troubled private lives. Second, having sex outside of marriage is also a dangerous and destructive sinful habit; it’s not better than pornography. And it can be very, very easy for popular, athletic people to have sex.

      I do agree that the apostolic life (active + contemplative) is superior to the merely contemplative life, though.

  • Reply Ed April 16, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Realistically, boys are very curious about girls and sex and will most likely view some porn. Porn is a poor introduction to sex, so parents just need to educate their children on the soulless, mechanical nature of sexual relations portrayed in porn and its exploitative nature. We can’t put children in a bubble, we just need to provide them some good Biblical instruction on love and marriage.

  • Reply NicolasBerdyaev April 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I think obviously you don’t want children looking at; if children look at the problem is not that they saw it on a computer or from a magazine or possibly a television; its because of their parents. Their parents are the problem for not supervising them and allowing the potential for them to watch pornography. Most televisions have parental controls and you can set them up on computer as well and there is really no excuse for them to be able to watch it and to have to have a giant discussion on indicates the failures of parents today and the parents who have children who accidentally have watched pornography should be ashamed.

    That said if your an adult I don’t think there is a problem but again if your a mature adult. The problem is that some people don’t have minds and they think its real and also there are disgusting elements to it that by watching it you can get exposed to and for some it becomes an addiction. If it becomes an addiction the problem is probably the person, not what they watch. Pornography isn’t a drug and even if it was the person would still have to consume it to be addicted and continue to be addicted.

    Also if your watching it alot, you should probably go out and have real relations with women your probably a sort of sad and pathetic person if you watch it alot or despicable or you are poor with women and if your a woman watching it your probably a pervert or maybe you just had a difficult life and haven’t had the opportunity to date or meet women; which in that case its okay.

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing April 16, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Mmmm….I’m not even sure where to start with this one…anyone else want to take a crack at relativism, in a nutshell?

    • Reply Cami April 16, 2016 at 7:32 pm

      There is plenty of research showing chemical activity in the brain as a result of pornography viewing. It does in fact cause the release of chemicals (causing the dependency) like substance abuse does. So a person becomes addicted and will go to great lengths to recreate those chemical responses in the brain (it’s comparable to a rush or high). This article includes many people’s findings on the topic. http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/02/03/brain-chemicals-and-porn-addiction/

      And I will add this… Long time porn users (a user is already an abuser) almost never stick to porn. The sexual addiction progresses into an awful situation where the addict attempts to “up” their dosage seeking a greater chemical rush, resulting in endangering their lives and the lives of others. Many get arrested. Most don’t get caught. But the horrific behaviors happen. And escalate. A Catholic should get serious about recovery, go to a good recovery group that is serious about healing, confession and Eucharist often, and definitely consider deliverance.

      http://reclaimsexualhealth.com
      http://drdougweiss.com
      http://www.heartofthefather.com/the-unbound-book/

    • Reply Michael O'Hara April 17, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Nicolas,
      Your comment is troubling on so many levels. You suggest that adult men viewing pornography is no big deal as long as they are “mature.” You obviously do not have any idea of the scope of this problem, which is devastating relationships between men and women in marriages, dating and interior thought life. Porn addiction is arguably the biggest threat to the family according to countless professionals, priests and the others. (Note the survey by CNS readers that rates it the number one threat to the family). Finally, viewing pornography not only is a troubling trend from even a secular, atheistic viewpoint, it is a mortal sin that should be avoided strenuously by all Catholics because it enslaves the viewer, damages relationships and perpetuates the exploitation of all females, especially those women aged 18-22 who make up the vast majority of porn actresses.
      Imagine if all the hours Catholic men viewed watching pornography, were instead used to build their relationships with their wives, children and practicing the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.

    • Reply Ari April 20, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Parents shouldn’t have to police children 24/7. Although stopping it from coming in the door is one important step, another important step (in this topic and all parenting topics) is teaching the child to make good decisions, especially when faced with moral dilemmas, especially when mom and dad are NOT present. I, sadly, know MANY adult males who have “real relations with women” who are also addicted. They are not sad and pathetic people. They sit next you at church, at work, on the bus, etc. I agree, it’s perverted behavior, but it is so normalized, I would venture to say that the majority of men may have a problem with it. Compounded with the attitude that there is nothing wrong with it, although studies have shown it is addicting, and not to mention it harms their relationships in real life.

  • Reply LG April 17, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Keeping children from pornography is not the only issue here, obviously, but perhaps this really does need to be underscored. Pornography can easily be a gateway to the entire range of other sexual sins depending on the makeup of the individual, including fornication, homosexuality, transvestism, nymphomania, rape, etc.. In other words, we are talking about keeping our children from ruining their lives.

    However, this is far from the worst of it, for this pandemic of pornography is also the likely explanation for so many young people leaving the Church, which is to say leaving the grace and the friendship of God. Involvement in this type of sin is a simultaneous darkening of the mind and because mortal sin, it is an alienation from God. Confession is the remedy for guilt of course, and no doubt many in the throes of this vice are struggling to escape it by recourse to the sacraments, others not so much. In any case, it is a very large threat to the faith of an entire generation.

    There are so many “Augustines” now, and so many “Monicas.” Who has attended a daily Mass anywhere lately and not heard in the prayers of the faithful some mother speak up and pray for “the return of our sons and daughters who have left the Church”? Of course, there are many other bad influences besides pornography, but it is worth noting that one obstacle to Augustine’s faith was his involvement in illicit sensuality, for he had a concubine.

    Be “Monica” now. All of this I say by way of encouraging the parents of young children to pray for them NOW as intensely as they would if they had ALREADY fallen away . . . so that they NEVER fall away. It is easier to keep someone in a state of grace by your prayers than to recover them once they have fallen away. This truth is summarized in 1 John 5:16 “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.” The Fathers have commented on this, saying that it means that we cannot pray for someone living in mortal sin with the same confidence of being heard, though of course we should pray for them.

    One advantage of this strategy is that it wards off many threats—and there are other threats than pornography. And it brings down many graces besides.

    Moms and dads, read up on the life of St. Monica and be now what she was then. Do now what she did then. Of course, this does not deliver one from the obligation to do all one can to keep his children from evil influence, but it gives all those efforts increased efficacy. It is a kind of pledge of our sincerity. If we do ALL, He will do ALL. If not, not.

  • Reply Online Daybook/ Currently (4/18/16): Saying Goodbye, New Adventures & Old Loves | Revolution of Love April 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

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  • Reply Philip Ferguson April 19, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Jenny – What a needed article. As parents of 7 children & 17 grandchildren (last 7 in need of your wisdom), we constantly pray for them. I will send your info to the parents of the last 7.

  • Reply Porn-proofing our kids: practical steps {2 in a series} – Mama Needs Coffee April 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    […] {Part 1 here} […]

  • Reply Porn-Proof kids and Patron Saints April 26, 2016 at 10:07 pm

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  • Reply The Conversation We Have to Have with Our Kids August 24, 2016 at 8:50 am

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  • Reply A Mother’s Worst Nightmare – Sweeping Up Joy September 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

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  • Reply Why “Don’t Look” won’t be enough – Mama Needs Coffee October 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm

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