How Does a Sex Addiction Expert Teach HIS Kids to Avoid Porn?

by Mark Bell LMFT, CSAT

Facebook App father son titleI’m a father of 5 young boys, ages 2-10 years old, and work as a sex addiction therapist. In this post, I’d like to share three strategies for addressing sexual matters, including pornography.

Maybe because of my profession, I find myself more and more aware of what my kids are confronted with regarding modern sexuality and pornography. Over the course of my career, I have worked with a diverse clientele possessing an assortment of sexual and emotional issues. This has made me even more mindful of my stewardship as a father to protect my sons’ potential by teaching them the important lessons of personal purity, integrity, healthy sexual awareness, and respect for womanhood.

My wife and I have implemented three strategies for addressing sexual matters, including pornography.

Asian father and son talking and using digital tablet1. Planned Interviews

One strategy is folded into a monthly father and son interview with me and each of my boys to discuss their spiritual, relational, physical, and intellectual well-being. We pray, we talk, I ask questions, I advise, I listen, I inquire some more, and above all I try to stay curious and inquisitive about each of these domains in their lives.

And of course I ask them why it is important to be aware of inappropriate pictures, images, media, peer interactions, and conversations. I affirm what they say and try to add a little something extra that they may have missed or didn’t think to say.

One cannot reiterate it too much.

2. Spontaneous Conversations

sunglow mom talking with sonThe other strategy we use is to take advantage moments that arise at any given time and place (regardless of what else is going on) to ask and inform them about what they just saw, heard, or were exposed to.

For example, my wife and I were watching a news show about a week ago while the boys were running around the house playing basketball on a number of our door-mounted indoor hoops (better than video games and the microwave timer is a great game clock!). During this news show our oldest son took a break to sit down with us and overheard the reporter describe how children can be easily kidnapped. He seemed intrigued and confused.

My wife quite naturally proceeded to inquire of him if he knew why some adults would steal children. “No”, he said. She then proceeded to explain that many kids are stolen for sexual purposes and even used in child pornography, which she explained was forcing sexual activity on children that is filmed, put online, and watched by other adults who want to see it. My wife was quite direct and clear, and he was, of course, disturbed by this concept (as we all should be!).

Naturally this was not our first sexual conversation with him. If it had been I imagine he would have been even more distressed and confused. However, he was able to hear and comprehend this because he has heard us talk about the harmful impact of pornography a number of times as well as our view of healthy sexuality.

Our desire is to take advantage of the moments that naturally present themselves, to make them into empowering conversations instead of solely relying on structured, formal teaching opportunities.

3. Resources for Parents

GPBP_Cover_3I would like to add that another part of parenting our boys around healthy sexuality is reading books that address these issues directly. One of those books we are using this summer is Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids. My wife and I have looked forward to reading and using this book due to the positive word of mouth by friends, social media connections, and my professional colleagues.

In fact, a number of peers in my professional community of IITAP (International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals) have referenced and recommended this book on our professional listserve. The buzz and endorsement from professionals and friends was a good sign of its broad appeal and benefit to families.

The Results

As we have utilized these three strategies, we have seen our sons’ emotional and sexual intelligence grow appropriately and confidently.

The message we want them to hear (and we believe they are already understanding this more and more) is that using pornography is a form of unhealthy sexuality that most often results in making a person more selfish, dishonest, isolated, unhappy, less empathetic and more disrespectful towards others, particularly females.

We strive for our sons to understand that respect for others begins with respect for themselves. What they watch, what they say, what they listen to, what they do, and who they associate with largely influences who they become, how they feel, and what they desire.

This is what my fatherly role and professional experience has inspired me to instill in my boys.

Mark-Bell-2014-squareMark Bell, LMFT, CSAT is a marriage and family therapist and a certified sex addiction therapist with Psychological Counseling Services, Ltd. in Scottsdale, AZ.

He works in private practice and is a member of the PCS Intensive Outpatient Program treatment team. Mark works heavily with men struggling with sexually compulsive behaviors and sexual addiction issues as well as the spouses, families, and loved ones impacted by the clients’ unhealthy sexual choices. Prior to joining PCS, Mark worked in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at an in-patient treatment center for Sexual Addiction. There he worked and trained under Dr. Patrick Carnes, renowned expert and author on Sexual Addiction. Mark received his graduate training in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Southern Mississippi and received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. In his time at PCS, Mark has been a regular guest interviewee on local TV and radio. He has also been published in counselor/therapy magazines and newspapers and been a speaker and presenter locally and nationally. Mark has been married 12 years to his wife, Dyan, and together they are the parents of five sons.

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GPBP_Cover_3The Amazon best-selling book Good Pictures Bad Pictures includes an easy to remember CAN DO Plan™ for kids to use when they see pornography. Subscribe to our PornProof Kids blog and get this free printable poster to reinforce the skills your kids needClick here to subscribe.

“Dear Porn”: A Father’s Poignant Plan to Protect his Kids

by Forest Benedict, MFT, SATP-C

dear porn2Dear Porn,

pied piperI recall the first night we met. I was just a boy. Like the famed Piper, you played your tempting tune, and I danced blindly behind you, down your long, destructive path. For years my heart pledged allegiance to your ways. Each experience of escape only postponed my pain. I sank deep in shame.

Porn, how you must have mourned the day I closed my mind to your mantra, signing over my life to a higher calling. I sought strength in numbers, experiencing the reality of recovery. For the first time in a decade, you and I parted ways.

I look back on years of both challenge and triumph. No longer does your siren song echo in my ears.

Porn, our paths would cross again. Next time for nobler reasons. Continue reading

Caught Your Kid With Porn? 6 Ways to Lift Your Relationship Instead of Lose It

Portrait of Happy Family Outside Playingby Claudine Gallacher, MA Parents, what’s the most important thing you can do to raise a child to become a healthy, addiction-free adult? The answer is simple: create an environment where your child feels safe. That’s according to Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S, and Founding Director of the Sexual Recovery Institute.

Creating a Safe Place to Talk

In a telephone interview, Weiss told me that a young child who has been exposed to pornography needs help sorting through the experience.  When parents fail to make a child feel safe or, even worse, when parents shame their child, they may be leading their child towards addiction. The key is to focus on building a team spirit, remembering that porn–not their young child– is the enemy. That’s not easy! Parents typically feel anger, fear, and guilt when they discover their child has been seeking out pornography. However, it’s important for parents to work through their negative feelings before talking with their kids. Continue reading

Computer Expert Reveals First Line of Defense: A Free Filter for Families

by Michael Gallacher

Free FilterI know our kids need to develop their own internal filter, but reducing accidental exposure to inappropriate content is crucial. OpenDNS is a great service that everyone should be using as a first line of defense against unwanted web content. I’ll tell you why I recommend it, how it works, and what you need to do to get it. Continue reading

5 Reasons You Should Initiate Your Kid’s Curiosity about Porn (Before Someone Else Does!)

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

Asian father and son talking and using digital tabletSummertime can become porntime for kids who have more unsupervised time and easy access to the Internet. A Google Analytics review showed that searches for the word “porn” spiked 4700% after school let out for the summer. So how do you keep your kids safe? Start talking!

5 Reasons Why Your Kids Are Safer if YOU Initiate a Talk about Pornography

I get this question all the time: “Won’t I make my child more curious about pornography if I start talking about it too early?”

Let’s think about that. Continue reading

Parents Beware! A Surprising New Way Kids Are Being Exposed to Porn

This article was originally published on Life As We Learn It, May 20, 2015. We are grateful to Mandy for allowing us to share this important information with our readers.

by Mandy Majors

Shocked young woman looking at mobile phone while relaxing on sofa at home

I’m standing in the grocery store checkout line, looking at magazines covered with picture-perfect women.

I need to exercise more. Do not pick-up that candy bar. NO!! I’m such a hypocrite. I need to practice what I preach to my daughter — these photos are altered and aren’t real-life. Get a grip.

As the superficial, yet real struggle raced through my mind, I heard my phone. I reached in my purse and was shocked to see the text I received:

“For live nudity available right now, click here.” Continue reading

My Kid Saw Porn! A SMART Parent Guide for a Sane Response

My Kid Saw Porn

This is the first article in a six-article series designed to help parents respond effectively to a child’s exposure to pornography and was originally posted on April 25, 2014. The other articles are Smart Parents Stay Calm, Smart Parents Make a Plan, Porn is Tricky! Help Kids Understand Their Confused Feelings, The Dangers of the One and Only Porn Talk, and 3 SMART Tips to Porn-Proof the Entire Family

by Kristen A. Jenson, MA

If you discover your child has already viewed Internet pornography, the way you respond can make a big difference. It’s worth the effort to help keep your kids safe online by planning for an occurrence that has become all too common (read about my friend’s experience finding links to porn sites on her child’s iPad below.)

But you can be prepared with the SMART Plan! Continue reading