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My child had an issue but is doing well now . . .

My son wrote me a long letter explaining his predicament . . .

A family I know is dealing with this right now . . .

I just found out my daughter is struggling . . .

I’m raising my grandson who deals with this problem . . .

I heard these comments at a conference. Some wanted to talk further about issues their child had or has had with pornography, sending nudes, or online relationships. Some simply mentioned their struggle in passing. A few have children who now walk in freedom from their habit. A few are still in the midst. But all these parents and grandparents followed their initial statement with, “Thank you.”

Thank you for talking about pornography, nudes, and other dilemmas our preteens and teens encounter online. . . . Thank you for speaking to parents and youth about the consequences of unhealthy choices. . . . Thank you for your messages and efforts to help the next generation approach their health positively.  

These discussions reminded me how pervasive pornography is and the number of households impacted by its slithering fingers. It reminded me that our children are influenced by social media and cultural norms. While society dictates that we should not open the door to conversations, parents want to share their burdens. They need to talk about the elephant in the room, the issues invading their space, hurting their children, and wrecking their homes.

Hope and Prevention

Besides helping the already wounded, we can prevent pornography and other online invasive concerns from harming additional children and families simply by talking about it.

We are thankful for the parents, grandparents, leaders, and educators talking about these concerns—with each other, and with the next generation.

We cannot ignore these problems. Statistics show that most youth are exposed to pornography before age 18. They are more anxious and depressed than ever due to constant access to others online. We aren’t doing the next generation any favors by tiptoeing, ignoring, or pretending these problems don’t exist.

I’ve heard from parents that are leery. They don’t want to bring up sensitive topics like pornography because sharing information may put ideas into their heads. I understand the objection. I subscribed to this thought once upon a time. However, we don’t take this stance when warning our children about the dangers of running into a street, touching a hot stove, or taking drugs.

If we think about it in relation to other cautions, we understand how presenting risks before our children face them can be beneficial. They will know how to respond, how to resist. They will be armed with the weapons necessary to defeat the tempting behavior.

And, most importantly, they will know they can bring their problems—any problem—to us because they recognize we are willing to discuss the hard things.

Be the first person to talk with your child about pornography, nudes, sex, and sexuality. Take the initiative.

Break down the walls keeping us silent. Talk with a friend, counselor, or pastor about struggles within your home.

Thank You!

During this Thanksgiving month, we at PATH want you to know we are thankful for you! We appreciate your donations and your encouraging words. Because of your support, we keep talking. The message is reaching parents and teens, leaders and adolescents. Together, we are making a difference.

Barb Winters

Barb Winters is a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, author of Sexpectations: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Healthy Relationships, and founder of Hopeful Mom.