Q: I was looking on my teenage son's computer and noticed that he's been looking at porn sites. I'm a single mom and just don't know what to do. I've talked with him about how damaging it is for him to look at these things and he continues to do so. How can I help him understand?
Juli: Many teen boys and girls are caught up in Internet porn. It's an epidemic. I know it feels awkward as a mom to talk to your son about sexual issues. But it's a discomfort you have to push past for his sake.
Begin by validating the fact that it's normal for him to struggle. He has a natural, God-given sexual drive, and that's a good thing! However, when that drive is channeled into casual sex or porn, it's harmful to him and others. There's a lot of shame associated with porn and teen sexuality. Don't pile on more. However, he needs to understand that porn is poisonous and evil. Many of the women used to make it are sexually trafficked, underage and exploited.
I recommend that you teach your son to play both "defense" and "offense." Insist that his computer and other devices have accountability and filtering software such as Safe Eyes or Bsecure.
Offensively, your son needs encouragement and training from other men on how to handle sexual temptations. Fortunately, there are many church groups addressing this issue. If you're already involved in a church, help your son get plugged into a youth group or a men's Bible study that can help him grow. It's important that he get a vision not just for what to say "no" to, but what to say "yes" to. Pray that God will bring men into his life to challenge him to be a man of integrity.
Jim: Did you hear that? It's the sound of moms everywhere shouting "Amen!" You deserve special recognition for raising such a thoughtful question. Here are a few ways you can help:
First, when you come home after a long, tiring day, remember that your wife's day was equally long and tiring. There are two things she needs at this point: 1) adult conversation, including expressions of appreciation for what she's been doing, and 2) a pair of hands to pitch in and help with the kids, the dishes and so on.
Second, don't expect to be taken care of like another child. Pick up your own clothes and toys.
Third, don't expect much sexual response if your wife is exhausted and you haven't done much to help. As my friend, Dr. Kevin Leman, says, "sex begins in the kitchen" -- with meaningful conversation, compliments and acts of kindness.
Fourth, get involved in the process of getting your kids ready for bed. This will result not only in relief for your wife, but quality time for you with your children.
Fifth, maintain a regular date night -- a restaurant, a concert, a walk or whatever your imagination and budget can manage.
Sixth, if your hours at work are too long, make every effort to cut back. Don't fall for the notion that your career is more fulfilling than your life at home.
Finally, try to take your wife away for a romantic weekend once in a while, where her daily responsibilities are temporarily suspended. With planning and creativity, this need not be expensive.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.)
(Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com)