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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

5 Critical Steps If Your Child Is Hooked on Porn

5 Critical Steps If Your Child Is Hooked on Porn

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part One in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series in partnership with Covenant Eyes. Part One was originally posted at Covenant Eyes here.

5 Critical Steps

“In the last days, perilous times will come….” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Our children are growing up in a dangerous world, and as parents we cannot always protect them. Pornography is rampant and children are exposed at earlier and earlier ages. Satan can use an “accidental find” to hook an innocent child into a lifelong addiction. So how do we respond as a parent?

Horror! Grief! Anger! Disappointment! Worry! These are just some of the emotions the parent feels when their child has viewed porn. Just blaming your child, or blaming yourself doesn’t correct the situation, and may only make it worse. Here are some steps to find constructive solutions to the problem:

  1. Listen before passing judgment or reacting in anger or disappointment (Proverbs 18:13). Don’t jump to conclusions! Listen to your child’s story, when and how he/she first discovered pornography, his heart attitude toward what he has done or what has been done to him. Listen objectively for truth! Listen to see if there is true repentance or excuses and justification for wrong.
  2. Gather enough information to understand the depth of involvement. Listen with compassion and humility, knowing we all are candidates to sin (Galatians 6:1-5). The truth will come easier when a parent listens and disciplines in love, not in anger (James 1:19,20). Anger separates; love unifies. A child who feels loved by his parents is much more likely to open up and deal with the issues he must face.
  3. The goal of effective discipline is always “correction.” When a parent just punishes because he is hurt or angry, the child often retreats into his own secret world, and even more sin, or becomes consumed with fear, shame and condemnation. When a parent accurately evaluates a sinful attitude or behavior and then helps his child to see his own sinful heart issues, that child is more likely to want to change and correct the wrong. The loving parent can then guide his child into understanding how and when he got off track and how to get back on track. The consequences given by his parents will help him to remember in the future when he is tempted again. Parents ought to be a safe place to turn in the face of temptation where he can find strength and encouragement for right. Parents also need to model grace and mercy as God the Father graciously bestows on each of us when we sin! Forgiveness with consequences….
  4. Be the parent! Balance nurture and admonition (Ephesians 6:4). Nurture reaches the “seat of the pants” (the pain of consequences, Hebrews 12:5-11) and admonition reaches the heart (see Deuteronomy 6). Do a Bible study on moral purity with him to fortify and guide him against ever yielding to pornography in the future, to renew his mind in purity (Psalm 101:3). Put accountability in place (like passwords on computers, limitations on iPods and cellphones, earlier bedtimes, less time alone, etc.) for his protection and correction! Install programs on the computer that give accountability and prevent accidental pop ups. Train the children to follow safeguards when doing homework to avoid impulsive clicking around. Regularly follow up on his progress and accountability. Children are less likely to get into pornography, or at least stay in it, when they know parents care and will be checking!
  5. Friendships must be evaluated (1 Corinthians 15:33). Peer relationships are important to young people who are not always wise is choosing friends, yet are influenced greatly by them. It takes character to stand against the culture! Until your child has achieved moral maturity, certain friendships must be cut off or limited if they are not encouraging each other to righteousness. Encourage healthy friendships, and be sure that the parent/child relationship grows stronger.

Building Blocks to Moral Purity

The goal is to develop control in seven areas of life that will build moral purity into the lifestyle. Look up the verses for each “control” and evaluate what you have done in the past in this area, what you are doing at the present, and what you should do in the future. Be very specific. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and each of these seven controls will help you build the necessary character to develop moral purity as a lifestyle.

  1. Thought Control: Proverbs 23:7; Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5
  2. Eye Control: Job 31:1; Psalm 101:3; Proverbs 4:23, 25; Matthew 6:22,23
  3. Body Control: 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; Romans 6:12
  4. Companion Control: 1 Corinthians 15:33; 5:9-11; Proverbs 13:20-21; 22:24-25; 27:17
  5. Circumstance Control: Romans 13:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 2 Timothy 2:22
  6. Influence Control: 1 Thessalonians 4:6-7; Proverbs 27:17; Romans 16:17-18
  7. Focus Control: 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 20:25-28

Join the Conversation

Which of the 5 steps do you find most important? What other principles would you add?

 

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  • Anonymous

    Sherry, thanks so much for this outstanding article!  Too often parents are so shocked by their child’s discovery, the first thing they do is react.  You have laid out a step by step plan that not only honors God, but that parents can have today to be prepared for such an event.  This should be as important a precaution as filtering software.  I love all the scriptures – parents can take each one and pray them over each child (Isaiah 55:11).  

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  • Noah

    Thank you for your work here.  One crucial point that should be mentioned is to set up future accountability.  A child may be truly remorseful, and a parent may find it awkward to bring it up periodically, but a potentially highly addictive problem like pornography needs accountability safeguards installed.  ‘
    For example, after the initial correction, maybe ask the child how heshe is doing one or two times a week for a length of time, and then eventually move the inquiry to once every month.  Also, practical steps like installing filters, etc. are obvious, but worthy of mention as well.

    Thanks again.

    • Noah

       Sorry, just saw that you mentioned filters and such already;  I still would add the vocal check-ups though.

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  • James whitten

    I would probably consider the gospel the central aspect of this process instead of a series of moral and emotional steps. I struggled with pornography growing up, and while my parents were loving and caring in the way that you are describing they failed to teach me my own depravity and hatred for God in light of the work of Christ. After becoming a Christian later in life I find that I needed my parents to care less about my feelings and emotional state. They didn’t fail to teach me biblical ethics, but they failed to preach the gospel, and that is a gross failure indeed. 

    • David Shedlock

      When we forget the gospel, we have forgotten all hope. Our child and we ourselves will fall into despair if we must struggle against sin by ourselves. God is with us and promised not only forgiveness of sin, but deliverance from it as well.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jacob.a.hughes.1 Jacob A. Hughes

    I think #4 is the most important.  It seems that it is easy to address a problem once, but to continue to help and keep up with what is going on is much more difficult, but that is what someone needs to get continued victory.

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  • David

    I’m having trouble seeing how these steps can bring a change of heart. Are there some other steps left out? Repentance? Prayer? What else?

  • Debbi

    Your steps are helpful except for the one about putting protection on the computer. My son is 18 and is very good with computers. There is NO blocker that he can not get past. He has no friends, except online ones, can’t get a job, he has way too much time on his hands, but I don’t know what to do about it. I try to find elderly people that need his help, but he still has way too much time and is on the computer too much. He is very heavy into porn.

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