By Roane Hunter, LPC, CSAT-S, CMAT-S
The average age of exposure to hard-core pornography is believed to be around 9 years old today and here’s why:
- Three out of four children have access to a smartphone in the U.S.
- 1 in 5 Mobile searches are for Porn.
- 37% of 3 and 4 year old’s use their parent’s tablets and smartphones as do 87% of 5 to 7 year olds.
- A third of 11 to 14 year old’s and about half of 15 to 17 year old’s have watched porn on a mobile device.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and a Clinical Associate with the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists it is surprising to me how many parents avoid the critical responsibility of imparting a whole, healthy Christian understanding of sex/sexuality to their children.
Given the broken nature of our entire culture around sexual issues, and even a basic understanding of what real love is, this issue is foundational to raising emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually healthy adults. Our culture is awash in toxic views of sex/sexuality – to leave our children uninformed and unaware is a type of sexual abuse in the form of neglect. Would you dare give your 16-year-old car keys without ever talking to them about driving or teaching them to drive? We would certainly not, for we know the potential for destruction and it’s the same with our sexuality – it is the most powerful force on the planet, a force for great love, life, and blessing but also for the worst shame, death, and destruction imaginable.
One of the main reasons that parents have such a difficult time in talking about sex is because of unresolved shame around their own sexual brokenness. That can be your own past promiscuity and the fear that if you’re honest about that then somehow your children now have permission to do what you did – it’s quite the opposite. It could be the shame of your own battle with pornography and masturbation that keeps you from talking to your son or daughter about how to deal with it. Back to the car analogy – if you’ve had a few car wrecks then you’re disqualified from teaching him how to drive so you avoid it? By sharing the wisdom gained from painful truth, remorse, and regret we’re actually teaching from hard-earned experience instead of living in denial of reality. Many women grow up in rigid religious environments where they received a very “sex-negative” message and this can create shame around their view of sex that will be passed on if they don’t become aware and change it.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6 of the sacredness of our sexuality – it is the most sacred part of who we are in God’s created design – He placed within us, male and female, the ability to create Life through connection with one another in the sacred space of marriage. When this creative life force is misused, abused, separated, disconnected from the created design it tears at the very fabric of our soul because it affects every aspect of who we are. Imagine if our world began to understand the importance of getting this one part of life in alignment with His heart around the gift of sex.
So, the first step in talking to your children is begin to examine your own views around sex/sexuality. How comfortable are you in talking to your spouse about sex – your own past, your own views, your own shame, or your current sexual relationship in your marriage? Until you get healthy you can’t pass on healthy – you’ll pass down your shame to them! Finding a good counselor might be a good first step, but keep in mind most counselors get one graduate course, maybe, on human sexuality. And even less helpful is your pastor who has no training, not even the one course! And most counselors and pastors have not done their own work around their sexual brokenness so they’re lost as well. Interview them about the work they’ve done to get healthy around their sexuality!
You might have to begin this journey to sexual wholeness as pioneers blazing your own trail but there are some good roadmaps available today. Here are several books we recommend that could be a good place to start this journey:
For Parents to begin their own work:
Resources for talking to children: