When I was a freshman in high school, my family hosted a foreign exchange student. Sylvia came to the United States at the young age of 13. She had lived with her single mother in Paris but had pretty much raised herself. Sylvia and I shared a room. Until then, I had lived a pretty sheltered life. Sylvia introduced me to a life I didn’t know existed: smoking, drinking, marijuana, and sex.
My parents were unaware of the temptations Sylvia brought into our home. Now, as a parent, I try not to be naïve about the influence my children’s friends can have on them. I have not hesitated to challenge our kids to make good friendship and relational choices, and I have pointed out behaviors I see in their friends that concern me.
But our teens aren’t only influenced by their friends. One of the biggest temptations our children face is the addictive behavior of watching Internet porn. Porn distributors spend millions to find ways around firewalls to hook people, young and old. If you discover your child is viewing something on the Internet or engaging in a behavior he or she should not, here are five responses to keep in mind.
Porn distributors spend millions to find ways around firewalls to hook people, young and old.
1. Don’t freak out.
Adding shame will not help matters. Satan would love to cause a deeper rift between you and your teen.
2. Do not overreact.
Almost all men and many women will have to face down this demon at some point in their development. Your son or daughter is not abnormal, sick, or deviant. He or she is trapped. Help facilitate freedom by teaming up to offer the “way out” that 1 Corinthians 10:13 talks about.
3. Do get them help.
Many good counselors specialize in this common area of struggle. Several relevant good books are available, including Every Man’s Battle (and Every Young Man’s Battle). Support groups and mentors also can help.
4. Do establish new boundaries.
You may need to change Internet providers or hold a password so you know when your child is surfing the Net. Your children also may need you or their dad to hold them accountable by periodically asking them how they are doing. (Uncles, grandfathers, and youth pastors also can be helpful if your child is struggling.) Having the computer in a public room, like the living room, can help when you are at home.
5. Do applaud as he or she develops skills that are helpful for overcoming.
A young person who has an intense relationship with Christ will have more power to overcome this snare. Applaud your child when he or she takes appropriate risks, including involvement in missions, evangelism, and pursuing his or her calling. Encourage hobbies that might seem risky to you, like whitewater rafting or rock climbing. These might not seem connected, but teens who have vibrant relationships with Christ and feel like they’re out on the edge of life pursuing healthy goals don’t have the time or as much inclination to risk in areas of sin.
What responses to teen temptations have worked well for your family?