If you look online, you can find dozens of books and websites dedicated to addiction recovery. Although my focus is prevention, it can be helpful to listen to people who are working to help others recover from pornography addiction.

One of those people is Mark Kastleman, cofounder and director of education and training for Candeo—an online coaching service for people with sexual addictions. Mark outlines three basic principles for inoculating your family against pornography.

  1. Teach sacred sexual intimacy
  2. Create and nurture true intimacy in your family relationships
  3. Recognize when your “BLHASTED” (the importance of daily self-care)

Today I’d like to talk about the first principle.

I agree with Mark that the first step is to teach your children that healthy sexuality can be a very positive part of their future lives. But we need to be careful not to communicate that sex is “dirty” or shameful. That view will never be able to compete with the alluring “if it feels good, do it” messages of our broader culture.

Instead, we can teach our children that our sexuality is a gift, built into our very nature, that can be used or misused. Used appropriately within the long-term committed relationship of marriage, it can help us build a beautiful and enduring bond with our spouse. Mark encourages parents to teach their kids that sex

 “is not something to be feared or ashamed of, but rather something to bridle and keep in reserve for the right time, place and special person—their husband or wife. Young people today need to know that sacred sexuality is worth waiting for…”

Kids can usually understand that some experiences and privileges must wait until they are more mature.They can also be taught that the sexual feelings of attraction that begin to develop around puberty are normal and natural. But again, these feelings, like other appetites, need to be controlled in order for them to help us and not hurt us.

Long before pornography became the number one business on the internet, historian Will and Ariel Durant, who wrote The Story of Civilization and The Lessons of History, uses the imagery of fire to describe the onset of sexual feelings and the importance of controlling them:

A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is like a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group. (Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, Simon and Schuster, 1968, 35-36.)

Children can be taught that fire can be used to build or destroy. Fire can cook food, warm a home, and make steel for building cars, bridges and buildings.

But if not controlled it can also destroy whole cities and the people in them.

In the end, one of the best ways to porn-proof kids is to teach them that love, respect and trust in a committed relationship are the only ways to enjoy “sacred sexuality.” If they understand that, they can better understand why pornography is a cheap and degrading counterfeit of human intimacy.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.