HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Teens Who View Porn on the Internet

I discovered new behavior today. Last night I heard my son coming home at 1:30 after mid-night. I got up at 3:30 and found he was in the family room lying on the couch sleeping with his jeans pulled down with his underwear exposed. He woke up and saw me and the first thing he did was to look at the TV screen (used as the computer monitor) that was not powered off. Then he tried to pull up his jeans. This morning I was using the computer and noticed what was last left on the screen last use. My son was watching teen sex video downloaded from a porn website. He did not log off his account after watching it, so he would know that I knew about this once he sees that I have used the computer today. What shall I do with this new area of his behavior? Shall I attend the matter or not? How do I do it if I shall?

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With the advent of the Internet, moms & dads are finding it increasingly difficult to shield their kids from pornography. Now, in addition to the exposure kids might encounter from classmates who borrowed one of their father’s magazines, most school-age kids and teenagers are spending large amounts of time online for homework or entertainment reasons. Attorney General John Ashcroft has estimated that nine in ten teens have been exposed to pornography. Unfortunately, many of these teens are susceptible to developing addictions or compulsions to these images.

The term “addict” may seem severe. Most moms & dads will initially minimize the problem, hoping their son or daughter is simply “experimenting.” Experience has taught me that, in many cases, at least one of the moms & dads will have faced similar struggles when he or she was younger. Today, however, Internet pornography is the fast ramp to sex addiction. Coupled with a greater moral decay in the culture and the fact that kids’s minds are still are still in the process of developing to maturity, addiction can happen quicker than we moms & dads like to think.

In many situations, the first reaction is to determine who is to blame within the family. It is important to realize, however, that bad things still happen to good families. This does not absolve certain parties from taking responsibility where it is needed. Everyone needs to take ownership of his or her piece of the puzzle.

For example, moms & dads need to ask if they have provided comprehensive sex education. Moms & dads will also want to re-evaluate the types and amounts of media they have allowed in the home. People tend to absorb the messages that bombard them in popular media -- more so with teens and young kids. What have your kids been listening to and watching? Are their media reinforcing respectful messages about sexuality and the dignity of the person, or is it working to erode these foundational principles in your youngster’s mind?

Another often-overlooked problem is the sad reality of sex abuse. Most sex addicts have suffered sexual abuse at some point in their lives, and treatment of sex abuse is foundational to overcoming sex addiction.

Moms & dads will also want to re-evaluate the types and amounts of media they have allowed in the home. People tend to absorb the messages that bombard them in popular media -- more so with teens and young kids.

The teenager addict also has areas of responsibility. Has he or she been honest about the sexual struggles? Have there been other excesses like alcohol or drugs? Has a peer or perhaps an adult been a bad influence? Most important of all, has the teenager made a full disclosure to his moms & dads so that the family can become equipped to deal with sex addiction?

Moms & dads need to realize that their teen is likely suffering from extreme shame and embarrassment. Authoritarian dictates are not likely to encourage your youngster to open up and share the extent of his or her struggles. Compassionate love and understanding, such as Jesus demonstrated to the woman caught in adultery, is likely to help your youngster feel safe enough to disclose the full story.

Many families will already have experienced serious communication breakdown with their teens. How moms & dads approach their teen in this situation will likely determine whether unhealthy patterns of communications will continue to disrupt and frustrate the relationship or whether a new foundation of openness, trust, and safety can be built and sustained throughout the struggle.

Moms & dads will need to remind themselves that they are often prone to minimizing what they know or suspect to be the truth. Moms & dads also need to realize the resistance they will encounter from their teen. Most addicts, regardless of age, will deny their struggle. They may even shift the blame and become verbally aggressive. Others may agree immediately that they have sinned or hurt others, and promise too quickly that they will never do it again. Getting caught hardly changes the heart.

Of course, it’s to be expected that everyone will feel awkward, maybe even embarrassed. Regardless of the discomfort, however, when there is evidence of illicit sexual behavior and possible addiction, moms & dads have to take the lead.

Chances are this encounter will exacerbate personality differences already evident in the family, but moms & dads and teen alike need to understand that this issue is not about personalities but about principles. Ideally, moms & dads will have educated their kids about the principles or core values that pertain to personal integrity. When these principles are violated, moms & dads don’t need to make this a personal issue, even though the wound will be highly personal.

Those who have not undertaken this core training will experience greater difficulty reaching the teen. Compounding the problem will be any moral lapse or habits that the teen witnesses in the moms & dads’ lives. It is extremely difficult to admonish a youngster for seeking out pornography if the moms & dads have a few DVDs they claim to be marital aids. Kids are experts at sniffing out hypocrisy.

If moms & dads are morally compromised in this situation, there are only a few choices they can make. They can either let the matter drop, thus resigning their teen to a cycle of pain, shame and addiction, or they can make the decision to eliminate those harmful aspects of their own lives and work toward bringing healing and restoration to the entire family.

Youth culture often counters parental values; teenagers may claim the right to express sexuality in whatever ways they desire. Without moral absolutes, they are prone to experimentation and believe that being true to one’s self is the greater good.

The fact remains that moms & dads are responsible to a large degree for their kids and for what their kids do. For example, when an teenager violates one or more civil laws pertaining to sexual conduct, his moms & dads will typically become involved in the court hearings as well. Taking up their moral responsibility, moms & dads of teenage addicts will need to state clear boundaries so that the guidelines and consequences are obvious.

Sadly, simply stating clear moral guidelines won’t change the heart of our kids. Nevertheless, moms & dads should be clear. Teenagers are to be accountable for their conduct, especially when trust has been violated.

Some initial guidelines for kids would involve the types of media they are exposed to and the times and places of exposure. For example, moms & dads would want to regulate Internet usage to specific times of the day or only when they are present. They may need specialized software to help them achieve these measures. Other restrictions could include limiting Internet use for homework purposes only and limiting TV viewing.

Heavy-handedness without appropriate ongoing communication and relationship can drive a teen further away from you and drive a continuation of his or her acting out.

The guidelines moms & dads set should not be limited to media in the home. Considering the seriousness of your youngster’s problem, guidelines should also be developed for conduct outside the household, with a signed agreement clearly stating consequences for infractions.

The reader can see how this could easily become a case of “parenting with an iron fist.” These measures need to be moderated by your family’s situation and your unique relationships. Above all, you must enter into these measures making sure that you are acting out of love and a motivation to help your youngster toward healing. Just as important, your youngster must perceive that you are acting with such a motivation. Heavy-handedness without appropriate ongoing communication and relationship can drive a teen further away from you and drive a continuation of his or her acting out.

Ideally, fathers should discuss these matters with sons, and mothers with daughters. Follow-up is important and, at least initially, these times of accountability may need to occur daily so that the teenage addict can check-in.

The most difficult question that can emerge is how to safeguard other kids in the home. We want to think the best of our loved ones, regardless of age. It’s hard to imagine that a family member may actually pose a hazard to another family member. Where sex addiction exists, however, a careful evaluation for risk factors is always warranted.

Understandably, moms & dads will want to protect younger kids from the knowledge that an older sibling is addicted to pornography or other sexual behaviors. In fact, many times, the younger kids remain relatively innocent, and perhaps the moms & dads have not yet initiated sex education. Nevertheless, there are times when moms & dads will need to err on the side of caution, and share with younger kids that an older sibling is in trouble sexually, and therefore, won’t be left alone in their presence without parental supervision.

Professional help will be critically important if your youngster struggles with pornography or act outs sexually in other ways. Often, moms & dads seek the help of a pastor, a counselor, or perhaps someone from school. While all of these people have key-support roles to play, most likely none are specialized in the treatment of sex abuse and/or addiction.

The specialist can equip you to know how to approach your youngster. You will also learn how to monitor the situation, and develop more or less support depending on your particular circumstances.

Just because your teenager seems to be addicted today to pornography does not mean that he or she must remain addicted tomorrow. Kids of all ages are incredible resilient, especially when their legitimate needs are being met in meaningful ways.

If your teenager is diagnosed with sex addiction, it means this condition did not occur overnight. To some degree, there has been a progression that most likely dates back to the first time your youngster was exposed to pornography or some other form of sexual abuse.

Because our kids are in various stages of development where some degree of sexual experimentation is likely, it can be difficult to pin down whether or not a serious problem actually exists. The secrecy that surrounds sexual sin also makes it difficult to detect what may be happening in the private lives of our kids.

Note: If your teenager has access to the Internet, please consider downloading the following parental control & monitoring software:   

PC Tattletail


    This is THE best monitoring product on the market -- and you can try it for  free.

    My Out-of-Control Teen

    4 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    my 15 year old has been and he is having issues with sexuality......he's obsessions seem to transfer to girls when he has a girlfriend he is a horrible child and turns into a child from hell....but when he has no girlfriend (they tend to finish with him very quickly) he is a really lovely child......the obsession side is getting me down completely x

    Anonymous said...

    It got my attention to a VERY crucial subject! (Not the fault of the Parenting Aspergers Children - Support group, it was shared.)
    Ignoring it, will not go away... There are major issues on this subject... Just saying : )
    Mom of a 14yr old Aspie daughter ♥

    Anonymous said...

    I was origianlly offended by this post, but i can see now that this is a real problem that is probably -- most definitely -- more serious than any of us parents realize, yet.

    Anonymous said...

    At 12 my son had his first girlfriend and when she ended it 2 days later he became suicidal so I have no allowed any more girlfriends but he is now 15 and I have recently found out he has been using his Nintendo DSI to get online and look at animated porn. Not really sure how to deal with this. He has also confessed to looking on the computer as well. I monitor everything but he has found a way to delete the history on the computer as well. Is this normal??

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