"Hey! Look at this one." David poked Matt and pointed to another picture of a nude woman on the computer screen.
"Whoo-hoo, look at those . . . "
Matt stood up. "I'm going home. This isn't something we should be doing."
Don't we all wish our children would respond this way when confronted with temptation? How many heartaches could
they avoid if they would just "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV)? Unfortunately, they all too
often succumb to porn pressure.
Even before our son stumbled upon a pornographic cable channel and became addicted, he experienced three exposures
to porn that we knew nothing about at the time. These exposures served to desensitize him and set the stage for him
to become more easily hooked when the opportunity for unfettered porn viewing presented itself. All three incidents
took place with friends or family around his age.
So why wasn't our son able to withstand his friends' persuasion to look at pornography when he knew it was wrong?
Apparently, we hadn't prepared him to recognize and resist this subtle kind of mind control.
Few parents realize the pressure children and teens are under nowadays to look at sexually explicit material. Even
when we filter our computers and protect our homes from pornography, our children can find themselves facing coercion
to view porn when they visit friends' homes, go to school, or socialize at the library. It's available twenty-four
hours a day through many avenues, including cell phones.
We teach our kids what to do and how to respond when their peers try to induce them to take drugs, have sex, or drink
alcohol, but how many of us equip them to counter porn pressure?
The most important defenses against pornography exposure are a saving relationship with Jesus
(see "Helmet of Salvation
and a foundation of strong morals and biblical standards. As Christian parents, most of us already work
to instill these virtues in our children, but that doesn't guarantee they won't buckle in the face of pressure from
their peers. Following are additional tools you can use to help your child successfully stand against porn pressure:
- Like-minded friends. It's much easier to walk away from porn when you have a friend who is willing to do the same.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not
quickly broken." Help your child find friends both at church and at school who will make a stand with him against
pornography and other immoral influences.
- Sense of power. When children understand that peer pressure is a form of manipulation, they obtain a sense of
power. Kids, especially teens, want to feel they are in control of their lives. If they give in to pressure from
their peers to do things they know are wrong, they lose that control. Show them they have the power to say "no."
- Role-playing. Your child may not always have a friend around to help him resist porn pressure. On occasion, sit
down with your child and help him anticipate the pressures he may face. For example, A friend has invited you over
for the day, and no one else is at home. He pops in a porn video and expects you to watch it with him. What should
you do? Play the part of the friend and exert subtle—and not-so-subtle—pressure for your child to comply,
but once in a while, surprise him with an unexpected show of respect when he refuses to go along.
- Self-confidence. Children who have a quiet inner strength, who know who they are in the Lord, stand a much better
chance of resisting pressure from others. This is not something accomplished in a moment but a parenting practice
carried out over a lifetime. Let your child know that you love him; that he can come to you anytime, with anything;
and that you will always be willing to listen to him nonjudgmentally. The more assured your child is of your love
and the more comfortable he is with himself, the less likely he will fall for peer pressure of any kind.
In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul warns us not to be misled because "bad company corrupts good character." For a few short
years in our children's lives, peer pressure will exert an incredible amount of influence on what they think and do.
One moment of weakness can affect them for the rest of their days. It's our job as parents to teach our children to
stand strong in the face of porn pressure.
Additional reading on helping children and teens overcome peer pressure in general: