Articles

Parenting the Porn Generation

By July 5, 2016 7 Comments

For the past several years I have worked with those affected by pornography.
Allow me, then, from my experience, to offer three strategies that you as a parent can implement in parenting the porn generation.

1. Affirm the goodness of their sexuality.

Sometimes Catholic parents, especially when they themselves were brought up with a standard of chastity that focused on a list of sins and temptations to be avoided, may feel unprepared to provide their kids with an affirmative view of sex and the body.
But raising them to value their sexuality as something good and holy is essential to protecting them from exposure to porn and to inculcating in them a positive desire for purity generally.
They will be trained to see clearly the great difference between the lies of porn and unchastity and the great truths of God’s plan for human sexuality.
It is also useful when it comes to teaching modesty and self-control, even at a young age. It is precisely because your child’s body is good and wonderful that he is not to treat it like a toy; it is precisely because your child’s body is sacred that she should veil what demands the reverence.
Even when our children are very young, my wife and I make it a priority to affirm their sexuality daily—teaching them that God created them male or female so that they can become a gift in self-donating love.
Each night before bed I lay my hands on them and offer this prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, I thank you that you have created [name] to be a strong boy/ beautiful girl. I ask that he/she would grow up to be a strong man/beautiful and strong woman to give his/her life away as a priest or a husband/nun or a wife. 

2. Be a parent, not a buddy.

I know that you know this—or that you think you know this, but it bears repeating. Your child needs you to parent him. And a large part of parenting means saying no. In fact, if your child hasn’t gotten angry at you over the past week because you would not let him have his way, you’re probably not doing a very good job parenting him.
In the sphere of chastity, saying no is the flip side of affirming your children’s sexuality. It doesn’t mean to shelter kids from every possible bad influence in the world; rather, it’s about exercising prudent vigilance.
There never was a teenager who couldn’t survive without a smart phone, but there are countless thousands whose Internet-connected phones become personal porn terminals. Laptops behind locked bedroom doors might help a little with homework, but they’re also inviters of temptation. Your child was invited to a sleepover: Do you know what kind of supervision the host family exercises over the computer or cable box? If you’re not prepared to say no, you might find all your vigilance undone by another family’s carelessness.

3. Use filters and accountability software.

We have talked first about giving kids a foundation that affirms God’s gift of their bodies, then about circumstances in which we must be prepared to say no in order to protect that gift.
As a supplement to rather than a replacement for our work of forming and parenting our kids, Internet filters and other content-blocking tools can be useful, especially when your children are young. As they grow older, however, it’s important that you not simply block them but continue to teach them.
This is how accountability software differs from filtering. Instead of blocking websites, it monitors all the sites that your child visits and then sends a report to an accountability partner (you). This changes the mentality of the child surfing the Internet. Rather than him wondering how he could get around a filter to visit some forbidden-fruit website, he will know that he could visit the website but that he will have to answer for it.
When you think about it, isn’t this how the heavenly Father acts toward us? He could “block” us from turning our backs on him and from the pain our sins bring, but he does not. Rather he teaches us right from wrong, and implores us to do what’s right (while giving us the grace necessary to do it). He does not censor our every thought and action because he desires us to grow up to be responsible moral agents: sons and daughters who freely choose what is good. We parents ought to follow his example.
In my opinion, the best accountability software can be found at  www.covenanteyes.org.
We as parents have a grave responsibility to protect the purity of our children.
We will be answerable to almighty God if we fail to protect and guide them, particularly in the face of the unprecedented evils that porn poses to their minds, hearts, and souls. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” Jesus said, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). As Peter Kreeft once noted, there are no Styrofoam millstones.
By Matt Fradd

7 Comments

  • Just a Guy says:

    1. Original sin is not sexual in nature. The Church places sex in higher regard than almost anyone else! It is recognized as a complete sharing of the entire self, not just the physical interaction. It is so highly regarded that it is deemed appropriate only in the sacramental context of a marriage. To treat it as anything less is just (I’ll say it) wrong.
    Not treating your body as a toy doesn’t pertain only to masturbation. Your body and your soul together are you as a person, and each and every person is worthy of respect. It’s also not right to display your body in such a way as to make others desire you sexually; it’s also not right to abuse your own body or someone else’s for your own pleasure (thinking of a bully or wfe/child abuser). How many times have you masturbated without thinking of someone else? Were you thinking of how great that person is, or what that person can do for you with no regard for them at all (the whole idea behind porn)? Many many studies have shown that repeatedly viewing porn reduces one’s consideration of other people just that way. The SELF-indulgence of masturbation and porn is the exact opposite of what the Church values about sex!
    What right do celibate men have to teach the rest of us about sex (not that it’s bad)? Does your personal trainer have to be fat to get you into shape? Does your therapist have to be disturbed? Would you only take your doctor’s advice about your cholesterol if his veins were full of Crisco? Those celibate men and women have chosen to fully give their lives to Christ, to the extent that it would be no less disrespectful to the One they love for them to have sex, even married, with someone else than for you to have sex with someone other than your wife.
    2. Telling your kids “no” is absolutely the role of a parent! So is telling them “yes.” “Yes” sex is amazing and natural and part of you being a full person. “No,” it is not to be treated so lightly that you do it just to get your jollies. “Yes” it is good for you to develop socially to interact with people. “No, ” it is wrong to use charm or wit to manipulate others selfishly for your own gain and not theirs. If you raise your child with respect for them as a person to respect others, they will love you back. I’m very sorry your own parents impacted your thinking the way they did. It was wrong of them. Now you have to grow up and use your intellect to see beyond the biases they’ve ingrained in you.
    3. The accountability software the article mentions is not about “catching” your child (or boyfriend or husband) watching porn, but to encourage conversations like the one you and I would have on the matter over a few beers. You despised what your mother did; making you feel like you were being”bad” is wrong. But advising your kids if t hey are doing something detrimental to their spiritual health is a parent’s job.
    People who left religion have “better” sex lives? Better how? More frequent, more partners, more adventurous, more carefree (even in monogamy)? The more one understands the true nature of sex, and treat it like the uniquely human, God-given, multi-dimensional experience it is, and acts accordingly, sex and your sexuality as an aspect of your person is much more satisfying.
    In my personal experience, learning from more spiritually mature people and sharing that knowledge and experience as it regards all aspects of life, including sex, integrity, how you treat other people, making life better overall only happens through “religion.”

    • Just a Guy says:

      Mary’s virginity and her Immaculate Conception are two distinct issues.
      —The Church has taught that Mary was always a virgin from its earliest days before the New Testament was even written. Jesus was born of a virgin because he is fathered by God, not another human. Jesus therefore had both a human nature and a divine nature.
      — Mary was preserved from original sin for her entire life- which began at her conception, which was the natural result of her parents sexual union. This is what the Pope *clarified* in 1854. Her purity was known from the earliest days of the church. St. Ephrem (c. 306-73) addressed Christ and Mary with the words “You and Your mother are the only ones who are totally beautiful in every way. For in You, O Lord, there is no stain, and in Your mother no stain.” The Immaculate Conception – of Mary – is all about Jesus. It was because he was to take on his human nature in her womb that God deigned her to be free of all sin and therefore “full of grace” (Lk 1:28). Her purity was not necessary, but it was fitting that God graced her with it. All of us are not so preserved because we are not going to give birth to Jesus.
      As for the translation of Isaiah. …
      The Hebrew word translated as virgin, almah, can also be translated as “young woman” but as Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon notes “there is no instance where it can be proved that almah designates a young woman who is *not* a virgin.” So your translation argument carries no weight. Furthermore , additional evidence that the correct translation is “virgin” is supplied by the Septuagint version of the Bible, a Greek translation of the Old Testament made several centuries before Christ. It was translated by Jewish scholars for use by Greek-speaking Jews, mainly in Alexandria.
      The Septuagint translates the Hebrew almah into Greek as parthenos. This Greek term has the precise meaning of “virgin.” So several centuries before the birth of Christ, before there was any reason to change anything as you allege,, the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 was clear: almah = parthenos = virgin.
      As for those analogies, a trainer doesn’t have to be fat to give you advice about being fat; a therapist need not be depressed to help you not be depressed; a doctor doesn’t have to have a condition to advise you about it. In every case, the fact that they’ve dedicated a significant portion of their lives to study those conditions is what qualifies them to advise you, not that they have it. In the exact same way, men -and women- who have devoted their entire lives to God are uniquely qualified to advise us on God’s role in our lives including the sexual aspect. So your assertion that celibate men -and women- have nothing to teach about sex has no merit at all.
      You’re absolutely right I have a lot of yesses and nos in the context of raising my child (don’t forget the context of your remark). I also have a boatload of “maybe” and the lion’s share of “I have no idea.” I don’t “dictate” what’s right and wrong. I try to *learn* what’s right and wrong from people who are smarter than me, and as I figure stuff out, I share it with those I love. By the way, that’s the church’s approach too: The church does not decide right and wrong; you’re 100%correct that’s God’s privelege alone to establish that natural law. And God himself, in Jesus, gave His apostles particularly Peter the *authority* to teach those principles to the world. And in an unbroken line that authority has passed through the only church Jesus established. So you’ll have to excuse me if I give the church’s explanation of what is right or wrong a little more weight than my or any single person’s opinion.
      I’m sorry if my remarks about your parents offended you. I don’t presume to know any more about them or you than what you wrote: “I never spied on my child, having despised what my mother did,”, “childhood psychological abuse” etc. I ask your forgiveness if I read incorrectly between the lines.
      I’m not judging anyone. But if the view they gave you of the Catholic church is that it’s controlling, misogynistic, makes up “stories” for some nefarious reason, and tries to keep you from having the best life you can, then -in the sense of “incorrect” – they are wrong wrong, and wrong. I am on your side. I reject that teaching too, and my not insignificant critical thinking skills lead me TO the church Jesus founded.
      Coming back to the point you made, associating sex with something bad is a relatively new (and Incidentally, non-Catholic) viewpoint that came about around the Victorian era.
      Don’t be misled by the fact that an anti-porn [not anti-sex] post was on a Catholic oriented site mislead you. Porn is harmful. Many secular researchers, from psychological, sociological, medical and other fields conclude the same. If it’s harmful, why would you not want to keep it from your kid’s – and for that matter your or your loved ones’ – lives?
      And regarding the church, keeping another child from having to go through the angst and misery of misunderstanding what it means to be a Catholic that you and far too many others did and do– well, that would give my life almost all the meaning it needs.
      (Sorry to plagiarize, but that was really well written. Great “mic drop”.)

      • Just a Guy says:

        About the analogies: my point is, someone doesn’t need to have an active involvement in a situation (depression, illness, sexual activity) to learn about it and authoritatively counsel others. Your therapist DOESN’T have to be depressed to help you get over it; your doctor DOESN’T have to be dying to keep you alive; (you agree with these) a priest DOESN’T have to be sexually active to advise you on sexual matters (the same logic).
        How would someone who lived a hundred years after Mary know about her? Through the teachings and oral history of those who knew about her directly. How do you know which side fired the first shot at Fort Sumter?
        You presuppose men – and women – who have dedicated their lives to God (what you mean by “my” god is unclear) have a disorder. What sort of”disorder? ” If they “voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, ” how has the church existed for 2000 years? How do you know about sex and relationships with women? Priests know as much about personal relationships as anyone else, and more than most, I daresay. And who says they’re virgins before they choose celibacy? There are married men who have become priests. It’s rare, granted, but it happens.
        The historic existence of Jesus is not something I’m going to debate. The apostles learned from Jesus with whom they walked, talked, ate and fished. He revealed things to them, hence they learned by revelation. And there was this little event called Pentecost, where God in the person of the Holy Spirit established the church. Sorry, I can’t find a higher authority than that on anything.
        God decided abortion was bad. That’s why it’s “written” on the human heart (before it was litrally written in stone) that it’s bad to kill, so that, as you say, everyone knows it. Abortion ends a human life =killing = bad. The other things you mention, which leads us back to our original point that treating the intimate union of sex casually, using pornography where people are objectified, minimize the dignity of the human person.
        The church doesn’t decide what’s right and wrong in the sense of imbuing something with “rightness” or “wrongness”. The church does have the interpretive authority to say if something is right or wrong. Sex isn’t bad, and the church has never said so, whatever misdirected inferences you may make.
        You ask “where in the Bible does it say [x,y, and z]?” First, where in the Bible does it say the Bible is the only authority? The authority of the Bible comes from those who declared it to be complete – the Catholic church. Jesus did not leave behind a book. He left behind a church to which He gave His authority. Your parents’ apparent misunderstanding of the church’s teachings and your resulting impression are unfortunate.

        • Just a Guy says:

          Mr. Gannon, I want to let you know I appreciate you taking all the time to repeatedly explain your point of view. I will give Mr. Carriers book an open- minded read; in return, I ask that you check out the website catholic.com and search for the terms “original sin, concubisense” and terms related to all the objections you have raised in our conversation.
          One thing I do ask you to consider when thinking about the clergy, however, is that unlike animals people are gifted with a higher sense of reasoning and enough self-control to decide whether to follow their sexual urges or not. Electing not to do so outside of marriage is no more a disorder for a priest or a nun – or for anyone living in chastity – than it is for a 15-year-old boy to refrain from jumping on the hottie next door while she’s sunbathing.
          As a nod to the person who took the time to write the article from which our conversation was launched, I would like to leave you with these two points on which I’m sure the majority of people would agree: 1) sex is not bad. On the contrary, it is an important and beautiful part of The human experience. 2) Pornography conveys an objectified view of sex, to which children should not be exposed without their parents knowledge.
          As for all the rest, sir, I leave you and your highly educated intellect to find authoritative sources that lead you to the truth to which you obviously aspire. I do respect that, and sincerely wish you the best. Thank you for your consideration of other points of view.

          • Just a Guy says:

            Seeking truth and endeavoring to live a good life, i wouldn’t think hell would be on your postmortal gps. But if I may share one last point, don’t forget the biblical evidence of Mary’s sinlessness:
            John 8:2-7 1/2—
            The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. … “Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone. ” A large stone flew from the back of the crowd, striking the woman and dropping her to the ground. Jesus called out, “Do you mind, Mom? I’m trying to make a point here! “

  • Pam says:

    The controversy surrounds the translation of Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” This Old Testament prophecy is quoted in the gospel of Matthew (Mt 1:23) and specifically applied to the virginal conception of Christ.
    Christians have always cherished this prophecy of Isaiah and its miraculous fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah. Likewise, non-believers have attacked this prophecy in an attempt to discredit Christ and his Church; the attack is a weak one that is easily refuted.
    The Hebrew word translated as virgin, almah, can also be translated as “young woman” but as Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon notes “there is no instance where it can be proved that almah designates a young woman who is not a virgin.”
    Additional evidence that the correct translation is “virgin” is supplied by the Septuagint version of the Bible, a Greek translation of the Old Testament made several centuries before Christ. It was translated by Jewish scholars for use by Greek-speaking Jews, mainly in Alexandria.
    The Septuagint translates the Hebrew almah into Greek as parthenos. This Greek term has the precise meaning of “virgin.” So several centuries before the birth of Christ, before there was any reason to attack his Church, the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 was clear: almah = parthenos = virgin.

  • Alan says:

    The Oxford English Dictionary (online):
    1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something
    2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
    Gotquestions.com:
    Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.”
    This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.
    Patrick, somebody may very logically intellectually assent to something without “proof” as some supposedly intellectual people think of proof- observable, replicable,etc.
    You seem to be almost atheistic in your need for God, Jesus, etc. to be “proven,” and your apparent disdain for faith. Is that correct?

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