How can I help my child take responsibility for overcoming pornography use?

    As parents, we long to protect our children from any heartache or pain. Yet we cannot take away their ability to choose, and when they make wrong choices, we cannot repent for them. However, we can teach, support, and love them and help them to embrace the joy of repentance when they make wrong choices. In the following video, Church leaders, mental health professionals, and others share ideas on how to approach and teach children about this topic.

    Helping Our Children Be Responsible

    Our children must be responsible for their own healing and growth, but we can teach and guide them along the way. We can help them understand that keeping sexual behavior within the bounds the Lord has established leads to true happiness. We can discuss with them why God has defined viewing pornography as an unrighteous choice and the consequences that come to individuals, families, and society as a result of pornography use. As we talk with our children, we can also teach them that Heavenly Father has prepared a way out of sin through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice.

    While we cannot take responsibility for our children’s choices, we can point them to Jesus Christ and explain that the Savior has taken upon Himself our sins. We can help our children understand that forgiveness happens when they recognize the unhealthiness of pornography, feel remorse at the negative consequences, make efforts to restore their relationships with God, and then strive to comply with God’s laws of chastity and fidelity and endure to the end.

    Satan seeks to convince our children that they are entitled to express their sexual drive without boundaries or consequences. He would also have them believe that they are alone in their battle against sin and that repentance is pointless. As we teach our children about how the adversary seeks to deceive and discourage us, we can help them see the truth and feel empowered.

    We can prepare our children to fight against the adversary by testifying of the power of Jesus Christ. This may include discussing covenants. The covenants we make with our Heavenly Father act as gentle reminders of what we have promised God and what He promises us, and true happiness is found in striving to keep our promises with the Lord. As we teach our children, we should emphasize that repentance and forgiveness can be a reality, that the Holy Ghost can be our constant companion, and that the Lord will not leave us comfortless or without hope.

    Ideas for Taking Action

    Here are some ideas that others have found helpful. Prayerfully consider what actions might be best for your family, taking into account that they may or may not be listed here.

    • Help your son or daughter examine how viewing pornography will lead him or her away from sexual health. Discuss how pornography degrades others and undermines family relationships. Explain that the boundaries God has placed on sexual expression are designed to bring us true happiness.
    • Talk regularly about healthy sexuality and its importance in a marriage.
    • Seek to teach the joy of repentance. Help your child realize that going through the motions of repentance, without understanding why change is needed, will often prove fruitless.
    • Read and discuss applicable sections of For the Strength of Youth.
    • Discuss the doctrines of choice and accountability. While we can choose what we will do, we don’t choose the consequences of our choices. Consider teaching your child why it's important to weigh consequences before making a decision.
    • Use family councils to discuss how individual family members can support one another in striving to live God’s law of chastity.