When I hear advice on a stage of parenting that I am not yet in, I will tuck it away for later. I might remember the faint smell of it after a situation with one of my children and think, ‘Oh, that’s what that was about.’
A couple of months ago, a friend sent me a long text detailing a mess her son had gotten into. She was loving about it, not wanting to throw him under the bus but said her hopes were ‘to pass this along in hopes that it will help you prevent the same trouble.’
I prayed for my friend and her son and probably immediately (and in all seriousness) thought how awful that was and how thankful I was to not be dealing with the same yucky thing.
But I would be speaking too soon.
Last week the world pressed in on my family. Pressed in is really the wrong word. Assaulted is the better one.
And this mama is mad.
The same baby I have fed, kissed the lips off of, kept lathered in lavender baby lotion and watched grow into a beautiful human…was invited to view filth on an iphone.
You might wonder who, much as I did, immediately wanting to hurt one who had hurt mine.
It wasn’t the child who is the usual troublemaker or from a family in difficult times or from an older kid at the junior high.
The one who put filth before my child looks just like my child.
You probably go to church with him.
You see him every day in the pick-up line and you wave to him because he is always there, talking to your son. He’s your best friend’s kid. He’s the smiley guy who waves at you when you come to eat lunch with your child.
He’s our son.
Here I want to clear up a couple things lest we be tempted to ‘Good ol’ Boy’ this into a youthful rite of passage and compare it to Uncle Jimmy’s Playboys behind the barn like back in the day:
2) It’s absolutely not the same thing anymore.
There are such long-term consequences to being pulled into online pornography that it can physically and emotionally shape a person (brain and behaviors).
Like a drug.
And I put this ugliness before you with the sure knowledge that this is coming for our children. It’s coming for our babies. I am going to be so bold as to say that if your child meets any one of the following criteria, they either have already been exposed or will be:
1) If your child has access to the internet through a phone, or a home computer or any other device.
2) If your child has friends at school.
Maybe you think you will never need this unsolicited and distasteful information. Maybe you will tuck this away for a time that you need it. Maybe you will remember it after.
My hope is that you won’t.
My hope is that you will get out your whetstone and you will take the blunt side of your arrow and you will sharpen it to a line so fine it cuts just to look at it.
You take aim and you go to war for your child. They are not equipped to fight for themselves. We are the ones who must engage for them. The war is here whether you pick up your weapon or not and our children will be the casualties.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born of one’s youth. Psalm 127:4
I was graciously reminded that I had not given any advice. We are still right behind the learning curve. As far as preventive measures (apps and security, etc.), there are many mamas that know more about that. So what was the biggest thing I learned with my child (who, I would argue, has the most technologically-restrictive parents in the fifth grade) through this experience? Something kind of wonderful that my husband nailed as he thoughtfully chewed over everything that happened: ‘I realize more than ever that we have to be open to talking to our kids comfortably about everything.’
So my advice? Figure out now how to talk about it before and after.
We had had the talk Before about all the things available for viewing on the internet.
The one After is the one that mattered more and will have the biggest impact on future decisions.
No accusations. No judgment. Only love and searching and praying together.
I saw our tight family get tighter this week.
And for that I say, ‘Thank You, Lord.’
And another friend sent me a private message reminding me that this isn’t restricted to this ugly stuff…Thank you, Jen.
And, please, feel free to private message me for deeper conversation or tips. I believe ours was best-case worstness.
Statistics vary…but not by much. Here are a few I found:
*The average age of introduction to online pornography is now eight.
*By eighth grade, almost 100% of boys and 80% of girls have been exposed to online pornography.
*The neurochemical dopamine is central to all addictions. The amount of dopamine released in the brain when viewing pornography is similar to using drugs like cocaine.
*The brain actually begins to rewire itself because of the artificial stimulation it receives from pornography.
Check out more here: Fight the New Drug