When we’re caught up in a pornography addiction, we often don’t realize the far-reaching implications of our actions. We may begin to understand the impact on our wife or husband, but it’s often not until our own children have been exposed to pornography that we start to realize that our actions can impact the next generation. And once your own children are exposed to pornography, it can create a domino effect of exposure in your neighborhood and community.
Every month, I have conversations with and receive letters from parents whose own children were exposed to pornography at other people’s homes. Sadly, the plotline often goes something like this:
A father is struggling with pornography, and at some point, he carelessly leaves the door to his office open while he sneaks in a “quickie” online. His seven-year-old son starts looking around the house for his father, only to discover him masturbating while looking at explicit images and videos online. The seven-year-old doesn’t yet understand what masturbation is, and he isn’t sure what pornography is, but he is curious. For some reason, he doesn’t feel comfortable announcing his presence to his father directly—he feels unsure about the situation, but he is strangely drawn to the images that his father was looking at. Later in the week, he goes into his father’s office and starts looking for those images online, and it doesn’t take long for him to discover a cookie-crumb trail to picture after picture and video after video of hardcore pornographic content. For a seven-year-old, the images are confusing and scary, but also exciting and even slightly arousing. Over the course of the year, the seven-year-old seeks more and more images online, all the while, his parents think their son is too young to be interested in sexual things and too young to search for pornography online. Their son begins to experiment with touching himself and begins to learn about masturbation. When he has friends over to spend the night, he tells them that he wants to show them something on the computer. Late at night, when everyone is asleep, the little boy shows three other little boys pornography online. They are all curious and a bit bewildered. At some point, the little boy shows them about masturbation. Soon enough, you have four little seven and eight-year-old boys who have a newfound interest in pornography and a new knowledge about masturbation. If their parents aren’t using filters, then it’s highly likely that those children will then begin to seek out pornography online, and once they overcome the fear and anxiety that they might naturally have experienced when they were first exposed, they will begin to think that the content that they are seeing online is normal. They may not know to feel ashamed or even to hide what they are doing, so they will continue to spread the word among their friends.
And so one father’s struggle with pornography can spark a fire of addiction and possible child-on-child sex abuse and exposure in an entire community. One selfish act; one person’s selfish lifestyle can have a seemingly endless implication—impacting a network of children’s understanding about healthy sexuality. When children are exposed to pornography, and when other children expose other children to pornography and masturbation, it can have severe spiritual, physical, social and even legal implications (in the case of child-on-child sex abuse… for instance when children act out what they see online on other children).
Is this the sort of legacy that you want to leave in your community? Is this the sort of burden you want to place on the shoulders of your own children and the children that they are connected to? Do you want to have to talk to teary-eyed parents as they confront you and your child once they’ve learned that their son or daughter was exposed to pornography in your home because of your actions? It’s critical to understand that your pornography addiction doesn’t just impact you or even your direct family members. If you are struggling with pornography, I hope you will seek help. We have a number of resources for men and women on our site that can help you become free from a pornography addiction. I would also strongly encourage any parent to use strong parental controls and filters on all of your Internet-enabled devices. Talk to other parents as well to help them understand why they to should use parental controls in their homes. I work with many parents who no longer let their children spend the night at any house that doesn’t have a proactive stance against pornography, and for the sake of your children’s sexual health, I would encourage you to consider taking a similar approach. And if you are struggling with addiction, take a step towards freedom today—for the sake of your own children and for the sake of the community around you.