Talking about Pornography

Let’s be real (not BeReal). Talking about something as heavy as pornography with your kiddos is no easy task. In fact, many parents shy away from discussing things like pornography with their children because they’re not sure where to start. But avoiding the topic can only make matters worse, so here are a few tips to help you know how to begin having that crucial conversation. 

Is Pornography Really Addictive?

To put it simply, pornography is very addictive due to the dopamine release it provides to the brain and nervous system, just like release that occurs when having sex. Unlike sex, however, pornography does not require courting or any sort of interaction with  another human being. 

Receiving dopamine rewards without any cost or effort might sound great, but it’s actually pretty damaging. Many substances cause significantly more dopamine to be released in the brain, giving someone the feeling of being high. Porn likewise releases a high level of dopamine to your child instantly without the cost, effort, or consequences of actually having sex, prompting them to want that feeling over and over again. Some people would call it “free sex” but that could not be further from the truth. 

Pornography and Shame

Whether you believe pornography is something not to be ashamed about or not, those who view pornography are usually using it to escape from shame in the first place. Addiction feeds off of shame and resentment. That is usually why addicts become addicted. Pornography provides  the dopaminergic euphoria one seeks to escape from the pains, suffering, and resentments they feel towards others and ourselves. 

That temporary experience of “freedom” from pain, accompanied with a crash of shame and seclusion, only makes the perpetrator want to do it all over again to escape from the now worsened pain they feel. Then the cycle begins. 

Bringing love and light to the dark depths of shame is key to helping our loved ones escape from the vicious cycle of addiction and pornography use. Shame and resentment started the habit, love and rigorous honesty can end the habit. 

My Story

I remember when I was just 15, we were driving together as a family somewhere.  My farther firmly told my elder sister to NEVER date a young man who had ever viewed pornography. His intentions were good, but little did he know the amount of guilt and shame that laid upon me as I sat in the back seat. I had already been struggling with pornography for a few years and felt devastatingly unworthy and hopeless. I felt as though I would never be a worthy son, husband, or father. 

Don’t get me wrong, pornography is dangerous and damaging on a personal and societal level. I could write another whole blog on the consequences and dangers of pornography. But right now the most important message I want to share is that though pornography does have a negative impact all around, it is NEVER something to shame anyone about, especially a young man or woman. Shame and resentment is the very lifeblood of addictive behavior and pornography is the easiest drug to get access too. By fueling the shame the victims of addiction feel, you only perpetuate the cycle. Love, vulnerability and honesty is what we need more than ever before in our homes. 

Creating a Relationship of Love and Trust

If you are a good parent, you would never get mad at your child missing a shot in a junior jazz basketball game orgetting an A- grade on a test. They both might have missed the mark. But that is what we all do as human beings as we aim higher for happy and healthy lives. Having a child struggle with pornography is no different, and almost just as inevitable. 

Your child is trying so hard to be the best version of themselves each day. To this day I still want to make my mother and father proud. With all of the forces, pressure, and voices weighing down on kids today, they are bound to turn towards something that does not help them hit our mark towards growth. Pornography is just another miss of the mark. 

Let me repeat. It is OKAY, if your child views pornography out of curiosity or even willingly. What matters most is that they know they can talk to you about it, and that you can provide a loving and trusting environment for them. 

I always knew I should not have viewed pornography. I “knew” it was bad and that it didn’t align with my faith. But in reality most adults do not even know why pornography is so destructive and harmful, let alone a young child or teen, making it easier to justify indulging in it.

The goal has never been to protect the innocent and weak from the harsh realities of the world. It has been and will always be to help them overcome those difficulties and navigate life using their own skills and knowledge with our support and care. Pornography is one of those harsh realities that your child will face, so let it be a regular topic of conversation in the home just like you would with everything else. Make sure you create an environment in which your child feels comfortable telling you about any struggles they might have with viewing pornography.

If it helps, try finding a negative behavior that you as a person or parent can find empathy, understanding, and compassion for. For me, it’s easy to understand and have compassion for someone who struggles with school. I always had a hard time focusing at school and on homework. Even with this blog post, I should have finished it days ago. It helps when I know my family and friends do not think of me any differently when I struggle with writing a blog on time or with pornography. Treat pornography use the same way you would treat your child with any other slipup or mistake. We are all struggling. What we need is more compassion, patience, and encouragement.