Nothing can derail a man from the path to greatness like sexual sin. For parents and youth workers, there is no more important topic than purity. And yet, when it comes to helping boys navigate the sexual pitfalls of our culture, I’d give us a collective “D+“. I know that’s a little harsh but hear me out on this one. I think we’re dropping the ball in a few key areas.
LET HIM KNOW WHAT’S COMING
Most boys are surprised by their first encounter with pornography. It’s like a sneak attack that they never saw coming and are ill equipped to handle. We have to come to terms with the fact that, statistically speaking, boys are encountering pornography between the ages of 7-9. If our boys encounter pornography without being warned about it, we have dropped the ball.
As parents, we must equip our boys for this first encounter. They must know what to do and say when they are invited to see an image or video that could change the trajectory of their entire lives. Boys don’t need to know everything about sex but they do need to know that pornography will hurt them. I would recommend making two things very clear:
- If someone tries to show you a picture or video of people without their clothes on please don’t look or watch. This is not good for you. Please tell me if something like this happens
- No matter what mistakes you make in life I will love you and help you. You can tell me anything.
To put it simply, as a parent you want to be the one who surprises your son with a conversation about pornography, not Billy down the street. As youth workers, we can help in this area by equipping parents for these conversations and also by keeping parents informed of when we plan to talk about sexuality and pornography.
TEACH HIM TO BE INDEPENDENTLY PURE
This will probably sound counter-intuitive, but most parents and youth workers make the mistake of overprotecting boys. Before you hit that big red “X” at the top of your browser, hear me out. I believe that internet filters are a great idea when you have boys in elementary and middle school but not helpful when they are in high school.
Part of our role as parents and youth workers is to prepare boys for adulthood. When boys are out of the house they will make their own decisions about how to use the internet. As a parent, I would much prefer to catch my son viewing porn through the use of accountability software and have a conversation with him than attempt to block every possible pornographic site. Also, no internet filter is fail proof and most boys are viewing porn on mobile devices anyway. Either way, after he graduates, you and the Internet filter won’t be there to protect him.
Parents also fall into the trap of completely disengaging. Pornography will destroy your son. Even though he may be bigger than you are mostly independent, he still needs you to help him navigate the issue of pornography.
As parents and youth workers, we must find the balance. Don’t overprotect and don’t disengage. Walk with him through the struggle. It will be messy. He will make mistakes. You must wade in. When necessary enforce consequences. You must encourage and equip. In short, you must be a parent and be a mentor.