Explaining Porn Addiction to Kids

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Is there a good way to talk with children about a spouse's addiction to sexually explicit material? My husband is in the process of recovering from this problem and is making good progress. Our marriage is stronger than ever, but our kids are starting to ask questions about all the meetings we've been attending. I'm not sure what to say in response.

You’re wise to resist the temptation to keep your kids in the dark about this serious issue in your marriage. Some parents would simply lie about the meetings or offer vague explanations or do anything they could to hush the whole thing up. You’re to be commended on your honesty and your desire to do the right thing as a parent. At the same time, you need to be careful to keep your children’s respective ages and levels of emotional maturity in mind. Whatever you do, handle the topic sensitively, and don’t overload the kids with unnecessary details.

You can begin by laying a foundation for a healthy, biblical view of sexuality. Some moms and dads erroneously believe that sex education is just a matter of having “the talk” when their kids are about to enter puberty. The truth, of course, is that parents should begin discussing this subject with their children while they’re still very young. So take some time to help your kids understand that God has created human beings in His image, male and female, and that men and women bring unique and complementary qualities to their relationships with one another. Let them know that our sexuality is a marvelous gift that the Creator has granted to us. Teach them that according to God’s design, it can only be fulfilled and given true expression in one of two ways: in a life-long, committed marital relationship, or in celibacy.

Once you’ve laid this groundwork, you can tell them that Satan is the great deceiver, and that he does everything he can to twist and distort God’s intent for human sexuality. One of the ways he does this is by getting us to view other people as sexual objects who can gratify our own sexual desires, rather than as whole, valuable persons made in God’s image. At this point your husband can explain that he began to believe these lies about sex several years ago, and that as a result he started looking at inappropriate pictures of women on the Internet. He can share that he has since repented of his actions and asked your forgiveness, and that you have forgiven him. Then you can say that the meetings you’ve been attending are designed to help husbands and wives who are dealing with the same problem, and that God uses other people to hold us accountable for our behavior and help us overcome temptation.

By the way, in addition to the recovery group, we’d encourage you and your husband to seek out a professional counselor who specializes in treating sexual addictions. Groups like the one in which you’ve been participating can offer a great deal of support, but it’s also critical to tackle the underlying issues that led to your husband’s porn addiction in the first place. Focus on the Family’s Counseling staff can provide you with a list of referrals to professional Christian therapists practicing in your local area. Our counselors would be happy to discuss your situation with you at greater length over the phone.

 

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

How to Talk Confidently With Your Child About Sex

Men: Maintaining Sexual Purity

When Good Men Are Tempted

Help! My Family’s Messed Up

The Talk

Referrals
Pure Hope

Be Broken Ministries

Articles
Sexuality

Copyright © 2010, Focus on the Family.

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