If your child comes to you and tells you that he has accidentally or purposefully seen pornography, it can be difficult. The good news is that your child trusts you enough to tell you the truth. As tough as it sounds, your child telling you is a very good sign, and you should view it that way.
Here are four ways to respond that will help your child avoid addiction:
1. Explain that pornography exposure is common. It happens to almost everyone, so they don’t need to feel bad about coming across it or being curious. Thank them for telling you the truth, and make telling the truth the highest priority. Addictions usually start with secrets.
2. Remember that pornography is the enemy, not your child. You and your child are on the same team, trying to navigate a difficult world together.
3. Develop a safe relationship where your child can talk about awkward things without feeling cross-examined. As a parent, you’ll need to talk with your child about how much pornography they’ve seen, how often they’ve viewed it, how they found it – did someone encourage them to watch it, where they view it, what types of pornography and whether or not they masturbated while viewing it. These are obviously difficult things to talk about – if you’re uncomfortable talking about it, admit it. But don’t let it stop you. If you see that you’re teen is shutting down and won’t answer your questions, you know that the way your bringing it up isn’t working. Try again another day or enlist the help of a spouse. You will likely not get all the answers in one talk. The conversation will need to be layered and ongoing, but know that as your child trusts you, they will open up. If they’re not opening up, you have a trust situation that will need to be fixed first.
4. One sure fire way to build trust is to be transparent with your children about your own feelings. If you have been exposed to pornography, opening up about that will help your child. Defensiveness and blame always reduce trust, so if your child wants to tell you about a problem he has with you, listen and absorb it.
For more about how to help your child avoid addiction, a free webinar is available at Addo Recovery