Photograph by Eminence Photography (http://eminencephoto.com) – 2013 All Rights Reserved
Earlier this year I wrote a post entitled 3 Things I Want My Son to Know About Porn. This piece was birthed after I read an article describing one mother’s account of how an addiction to Internet pornography drastically changed the character and personality of her 11-year old boy. It was then that I began to realize the important role I will need to play in my young son’s life in how he views women, relationships, himself, and God.
As I have continued to think and pray about how best to prepare and guide my young son in a world that continues to objectify and devalue women, trivialize and pervert sexuality, and cheapen relationships, I have realized that this preparation and guidance has to come from, not just me, but also my wife. My son needs to hear the voice of his father shaping how he grows up viewing women and valuing relationships, but it is equally important for him to hear about sexuality from another perspective- a perspective that can only come from a mother.
Here are three reasons why I believe that my wife, and every mom, should talk to their sons about pornography:
YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS ESSENTIAL
Let’s be honest here: the traditional way in which we have discussed matters of sexuality and intimacy have been gender-segregated.
Dads… you talk to the boys.
Moms… you talk to the girls.
For some reason we have imagined that it is too uncomfortable for our kids to hear about sexuality from the opposite sex parent. Consequently we have made issues of sexuality hyper-taboo, keeping our children from hearing a desperately needed perspective and words of wisdom from the opposite sex parent.
I believe it is essential that moms join the conversation with their sons, sooner rather than later. For it is a mother who can begin to help her son understand and see that girls and women are beautiful, valuable daughters of God… and that they are not objects to be used. It is a mother who can begin to help her son see the heart, soul, feelings, and longings of girls and women… and that they are not objects to be exploited. It is a mother who can help her son develop empathy… and understand the immense pressure on girls and women in how they view their bodies and expectations of boys and men. And it is a mother who can help shape how her son talks about and treats girls and women- in ways that edify and uplift… and not in demeaning ways that suggest conquest or dehumanization.
To that end moms… it is imperative that you begin having conversations earlier with your sons about sexuality- beauty versus perversion, worth and value versus objectification, selflessness and empathy versus self-centeredness, and wholeness versus brokenness.
While a father can attempt to convey those same sentiments to his son, it is something entirely different when a mother shares them. A son will hear from his mother in a much different way than he hears from his father. A mother is able to speak to the heart and soul of her son at an early age that offers a foundational narrative of dignity and respect for girls and women… even before the static of competing narratives, provocative images, and back room dirty talk from friends begin.
What an awesome responsibility is that of a mother toward her son.
YOUR SON IS BEING BOMBARDED EARLIER
A friend of mine (who is a mom) told me recently that her 10-year young son was at a birthday party where his friends were looking at porn on a handheld device. They kept urging him to look. But he didn’t. He continued to play video games.
She said that she is fortunate that he doesn’t have any interest in looking at porn. I told her that he is a very good kid, but to not assume that he hasn’t seen porn, that he won’t look at it in the future, or hasn’t already been affected by it. I was a very good kid, as well, and my parents never knew or suspected that the neighborhood kids exposed me to pornographic magazines when I was five years old. It is not something a young boy will readily share with his mom or dad.
With that being said, it is highly likely (almost certain in this day and age) that your very young son will, at a minimum, see softcore porn and, at a maximum, see hardcore porn before you would even expect it. And once they begin to see it and it excites their curiosity, they will remember it and likely seek out more of it. I can still remember the images from 34 years ago like it was yesterday and how that experience affected me. It made a huge impact on how I would view sexuality and women. That is why I believe having conversations with your son earlier rather than later is important.
The truth is that I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for boys presently. While I saw a pornographic magazine when I was five years old, the presence of and access to softcore and hardcore porn was significantly limited. It certainly was not as commercially mainstream, nor did we have instant access to it on the internet or the ability to access it instantaneously and privately on our smart phones. At that time boys had to actively seek out provocative images. But today provocative images come to them from every angle. It is everywhere, all the time, from television to print advertising to the web.
Author Emily Wierenga recently wrote about her anger at Victoria Secret. While walking through the mall, her four year old son could not take his eyes off of the scantily clad seductress in a bra with her boobs pressed against the store window. She rightly (and sadly) confessed that, “My son now has a strange woman’s cleavage in his soul.”
Do mothers like Emily need to get a grip and realize that “boys will be boys?”
Have some mothers like Emily become even more prudish than those of previous generations?
Or, do mothers have a right to be outraged and concerned that the hearts, minds, and souls of our sons are being blasted, bombarded, and (in some instances) decimated with perversion from every angle?
Mothers, you not only have the right, you have God-given permission to do everything within your power to nurture and guide your sons toward Christ-likeness. And you do not have to be ashamed for loving your son enough to fight for his soul, not for one second.
An article in the Daily Mail tells the story of a ten-year old boy named Jamie, who saw his first porn movie during a sleepover at a friend’s house. Even though he described what he saw as “a bit scary” and “yucky” his curiosity manifested over the next few years as he watched porn up to two hours every evening in the privacy of his room while his parents thought he was doing homework. What began as some “innocent fun” at a sleepover turned into an insatiable appetite for more pornography. “The websites led me to other websites and soon I was looking at even weirder stuff I could ever imagined- animals, children, stabbing and strangling,” he recalls. And his parents could not imagine what they would discover one morning when the police came to their door- the secret life of a child accessing child pornography.
A boy who had not even kissed a girl up to that point in his life was now a registered sex offender and felon.
YOUR SON NEEDS GODLY GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION
The sad reality is that both soft and hardcore pornographic images are more accessible and even more invasive than they have been in our lifetime…. and are introduced to our children at an even younger age… before they have even developed any sense of understanding, perspective, or discernment to the damage they are inflicting on their hearts, minds, and souls. And our sons need all of the support, guidance, and prayer they can get from both dad AND mom.
Mothers can help guide their sons by being instrumental in fostering open, honest, truthful, and prayerful communication. It is upon this foundation where dialogue between a mother and son flourishes. And it is only with this approach that a mother will begin to offer her son a better context and perspective in how he understands and views sexuality- no longer as a taboo subject but rather as a beautiful gift of God. Any approach that is built upon guilt, shame, or rules will only be counter-productive and could potentially do more damage than good. Whether it is your son or your husband DO NOT interrogate him or put him on the spot about pornography… but rather open up a conversation that emanates from a place of humility, from a place that seeks to understand, from a place that let’s him know that he is not judged but loved.
Mothers can also help provide structure and expectations for the entire family. It is wise to have standards by which the entire family agrees and operates. As a family… how much time ought we spend on technology each day? What kinds of television shows, movies, and video games ought we entertain as a family? Ought our Internet usage be in open, public areas of the house and what are those areas? These are just a few examples to consider. The point is not to single out or impose sanctions on one person but to provide structure and expectations by which the entire family will benefit, including dad.
Mothers can pray for their sons. Without question this is the most powerful thing you can do as a mother. Pray for your sons heart. Pray for his mind and thoughts. Pray for the preservation or mending of his soul. Pray for him because the battle is real and the forces that are working against him want nothing less than his destruction… but the power of a praying mother is even more powerful and effective. And I am confident I would not be half the man I am today, whole and healed, if it was not for my praying mother. So pray boldly moms.
peace and love…
You may also want to check out A Father’s Letter to His Daughters that I wrote to my daughters about this subject.
XXX Church (Information and Resources for Adults),
XXX Church Student (Information and Resources for Students)
Shelley Lubben (Ex Porn Star Against Porn)
Breaking Free Blog (Honest Discussions About Internet Temptations)