As an addict involved in the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, I had to dig deep to find and embrace my inner Mormon. What follows is my journal from this point forward.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Response to Parent of 12 yr old viewing porn repeatedly and against all attempts to prevent it.

When trying to keep a preteen youth from viewing pornography, source removal is not a permanent solution. You have explained the issues of Porn to your son and will continue to do so. If you have made your view clear and he continues to seek it, your son is not only demonstrating a strong interest, but also a early willingness to act on his own for his own purposes. 

Some may disagree with me, but I think you are at a place where you need to focus more on creating strong connections and relationships with him. I think trying to move towards more and more control of his actions is going to be counter productive. There is that time when children are going to act on their own. You hope it's later, but sometimes it's not. I just don't see exerting more guilt, or angry words, or threats as being any more helpful if they haven't helped yet. 

It sounds like you fear his behavior is becoming more compulsive. Often boys of this age get caught in this as a way of seeking expression of desires and interests that they don't fully understand. By working on making a home with more open sharing and safer to express, this will begin to help him to open up about what is happening. What you cannot do is think the problem is solved because the computer is gone or restricted. When you ask what can you DO or SAY to him, you must understand that if his behavior is compulsive, there is no one thing you can likely say or one thing you can do. There have to be on going efforts to increase understanding and to make relationships stronger with your son. There are things you can do to help. 

Some mention the LDS Church's Addiction Recovery Program. I am intimately acquainted with this program and love it. However, I don't know how much benefit a 12 year old will get from sitting with a large group of much older males. 

What I would recommend is attending some of the meetings yourself, if married ask your husband to attend as though he were the person seeking assistance (otherwise another adult male could attend). Learn what it means to share like they share at these meetings. Then take this same practice into your home and do a similar sharing. Work with him on the journal portion and the questions in the program guide. Hold your own family meetings and encourage all to share honestly and openly. This includes yourself as parents. We did this in our home with our children during a time when help was needed. It was very positive and over several months it made matters much better. You may discover things about yourself and how you may be able to change yourself to make it easier for him.

I also think you would find great advice from some speeches given at BYU during their 2003 CyberSecrets program. I have given the URL at the end of this. I highly recommend the writings/presentations of Drs. Dougher, Buxton, Harper, MacArthur, and Moody. The insights are at times counter-intuitive but I can personally attest to the value of their advice. I am also a HUGE fan of Dr. William Glasser, a Psychiatrist and author of "Choice Theory." I love this book and find it in keeping with my own faith.

I want you to know, that as frustrated and alone as you feel in this, you are not. This is an issue affecting so many including, and sometimes I wonder is especially, those of deep religious faith. I also think you should know that as alone as you at times feel in this, your son is feeling the same way just before he indulges and even more so afterwards. It may bother some to hear me tell you to show greater love, empathy, and care, and compassion, but that is what you need to do. I would caution with all my energies to not convey greater feeling of vindictiveness or retribution. 

Whatever guilt you think you can put on this young man, I assure you he feels it already. Adding shame, upon his shame will not help. The idea that you can make somebody dealing with this feel bad enough to stop when they are behaving like it's an addiction is erroneous. This is not just about sexual excitement. It's about finding a place to bury ones negative feelings about themselves and the world. 

I would encourage you to focus on the Savior and his teachings. The LDS Addiction Revocery program guide is wonderful because it does this. It will help you to see how to take this problem and focus it on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Packer once said, "Focusing on the Principles of the Gospel will change behavior much sooner than focusing on the behavior will change behavior."

And finally, take heart. You have discovered this early. Some men start at this age and don't seek help for 30-40 years. This is good. If you work through this using the principles of faith, hope, and charity, you will learn things about the Atonement and understand it more deeply than you may have otherwise. 

CyberSecrets URL:

LDS Addiction Recovery Program Guide: 

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