Before knowing what you need to do, you need to know what you are up against! If you haven’t read my blogpost Unplugging Pornography: What You Need To Know, make sure and read it! Then, apply these eight steps to help your teen (or anyone you know) defeat the beast of porn.
With every look and every image, they are going deeper and deeper into darkness. The Enemy wants you to feel guilty. He wants you to question how this could have happened to your teen. He will work overtime to convince you that you have failed miserably. He wants to knock you down in the first round so you will crawl back to your corner, give up, and be defeated before you even decide to fight.
But Satan is a liar. Regardless of what has transpired to get you to this point, this battle can be won. Your teen doesn’t have to continue down this degrading path. First John 4:4 says, “My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victoryover those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world” (msg). The One in you is greater than the deceiver in this world, and God can bring them out of this place of darkness.
I have yet to counsel a teen struggling with porn who desired to continue struggling. Nobody wants to be enslaved to sin and remain on the road to destruction. Yet many who desire to escape from the bon-dage in which they are living have little knowledge of how to overcome its grip.
If your teen is struggling with porn, they will need your help!
1. Get to the Facts
Many parents talk about porn and sexuality with their teen but do it only indirectly. Don’t dance around the issue! Get right to the point. Be specific. Share with your teen the effects porn will have on their life.
Even if you do not suspect your teen is involved in porn, don’t wait to have such a talk. Remember, if your teen spends time online, it is inevitable that at some point they will be exposed to the raw, filthy, multibillion-dollar-a-year business of porn. If you have caught your teen in the act, at first they may deny that the struggle exists or try to minimize its effects on their life. It is critical that you explain to them that Satan is out to get them hooked. What an awesome moment this can be to strengthen your relationship with them and help them see you as someone who longs to protect them from harm!
2. Love the Teen; Hate the Sin
As you implement each of the following steps in your fight to defeat this darkness in your teen’s life, you will need to constantly remind them that your love has not and will not change. Your teen needs to know that, though you disagree with their actions, your ultimate desire is to help your child defeat this addiction and be restored to a pure life. Every day, communicate to them that the sin is the thing you hate, not them.
3. Realize That a Promise Isn’t Enough
When your teen has been caught in the act, his or her first response may be to quickly apologize, plead for your forgiveness, and promise to never do it again. And yet, though your teen’s desire to repent may be genuine, it may be only a matter of time before the addiction wins him or her over again.
For a teen struggling with porn from website, a promise to change isn’t enough. You need to help your teen make the promise a reality.
4. Encourage Confession and Submission
Your son or daughter’s involvement in the world of sex, lies, and porn may be a shock to you. But it is not to God. God is aware of every filthy image that has ever been downloaded into their mind. And the best part is that He still loves your teen.
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord has a plan for each of us, a plan to prosper us and to give us hope and a future. The future of this plan often begins with confession (see 1 John 1:9). Lead them through a time of confession with God. Encourage them to be completely honest with God as they confess mistakes and receive God’s forgiveness.
They will not only need your consistent involvement, support, and accountability, but must also be willing to submit future choices, actions, and thoughts to God. This could mean that for a while they commit to completely avoiding any access to their phone, computer, Internet, TV, or movies, and any form of entertainment that may tempt them to check out porn again.
God desires to be in complete control of your teen’s life. This can happen only as they choose to submit to God each day. Temptation will be a daily battle for your them. And so daily submission to God is the key to winning the battle.
Of course, you also have to take some practical steps to protect your them from porn.
5. Take Inventory and Destroy
Consider the types of media outlets in the home: movies, satellite and cable TV, videos, music, the Internet. Consider what your teen watches and listens to. What influences do these media messages have, or have the potential to have, on them?
If you suspect or know that they are struggling with porn, remove the source from the home immediately. If this is a computer, make sure its location is in a high-traffic area in the home and that your teen never has access to it unless in your presence, especially in their room. In their bedroom is the #1 access point for teens. If the source is a TV, it must go. If the source is magazines, they must go. No questions, no rationalizing—whatever it is, it must go!
This sounds strong, but remember, this is war. You cannot expect to defeat the enemy if the enemy still has access to your home. Of course, this purging of your home will not eliminate access to all the porn in the world. But by removing the immediate sources, you will be sending a strong message to everyone in your family that you are prepared to take extreme measures to break the bondage in which they are living.
6. Develop a Strategy for the Future
It is unrealistic to think that just because you remove sources of temptation from the home, they will never again be tempted to use porn. So it’s important for you to develop a strategy for your teen, while both inside and outside the home, to help them avoid repeating an addictive behavior.
Because each teen’s situation, lifestyle, and personality is unique, there is no one strategy that will work for everyone. I recommend that you take some time with your spouse (if married) and outline a game plan before discussing it with your teen. That game plan should include, but not be limited to, the following:
Establishing a routine.
Your teen needs to see the importance of a disciplined, routine schedule. The key here is not to isolate them from his daily activities, hobbies, and interests completely. But setting boundaries on what they can do will help them develop a greater sense of security.
Work to help their schedule stay full enough so that their mind remains occupied. Chores, sports, a part-time job, volunteering, and more can be helpful outlets.
One teen told me that his mom and dad found out he was checking out porn at home, so they removed the computer from his room. Then he started checking it out at his best friend’s house.
Your teen’s friends play a huge role in their decision making. Choosing friends who are in line with God’s will for your teen’s life is a critical step to overcoming the temptations to check out porn.
Bad company corrupts good character.
It is essential that your teen choose friends that push them toward God rather than ones that pull them away. Let them know that you will have debriefings about who their friends are and where they spend time.
Killing the lies.
Satan often wins the porn war when he wins the war in your teen’s mind. Communicate to them that Satan will work to sell them such lies as these:
• “What’s the big deal? It’s just a naked picture. Besides, looking at porn is a lot better than sleeping with someone.”
• “I’m so good in every other area of life. This is just my one issue.”
• “No one is going to know. And what harm will really come from it?”
• “I deserve this. I’ve had a really tough week.”
Communicating with your teen.
If your teen has been checking out porn for some time, then it is highly probable they will experience setbacks in separating from this darkness. The evil forces will pull out all their weapons to try to drive harmful desires deeper into their mind. The best way to control these moments is to have consistent times of communication with them. Regularly ask questions such as these:
• “How are you feeling about your struggle?”
• “Have you had any setbacks?”
• “What’s going on in your head?”
Let them see that you are serious about fighting with them against the Enemy in this area, no matter how long it takes.
Develop a set of goals they strive to achieve. As they prove trustworthy, they will then be granted more
freedom. Use this as an encouragement to help them see progress.
7. Get Your Teen into the Word
A key to killing the addiction to porn in the heart and mind of your teen rests in their own commitment to consistently spend time in God’s Word.
Help them find Scripture verses to memorize, carry in their wallet or purse, or hang on a mirror or locker that will help them in a crisis moment. Relying on Scripture when faced with a temptation is exactly what Jesus did when He was tempted (see Matthew 4).
Continually encourage them to spend time with God, praying and reading the Bible.
8. Pray Like Crazy
The greatest strategy that you can implement to protect your teen from Satan’s lies about pornography (and everything else the Enemy throws at them) is prayer.
Prayer is your source of strength when the fight takes you into the eleventh round. Prayer is your greatest weapon against Satan’s ploys to get them to take a bite of the forbidden fruit. Prayer is the greatest “kaboom” you have against the Enemy. I don’t call prayer the Ultimate Power Stance for nothing.
Applying these eight strategies may not be comfortable for either you or your teen. But this battle is not about comfort. It’s about fighting an enemy whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. The fight isn’t always easy. But God is on your side. You are never fighting alone!
God, just like Job said, I pray that my teen and I would both make a covenant with our eyes not to look lustfully at anyone. I pray that we would abstain from sinful desires, which war against our souls, and would clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly natures: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Amen.