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Ask Dr. Meg: My Teen Son Is Addicted to Porn

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Dear Dr. Meg,

My 13-year-old son is addicted to porn and I am at a total loss. What can I do?

Sincerely,

Kathy

Dear Kathy,

First of all, kudos to you because any parent who is willing to face the tough issues in her child’s life is a great parent. This is why I talk about strong parents. This is not a day for wimpy parents because our kids are growing up in a culture that doesn’t like them very much and is content to destroy them. I say that because this culture is throwing things like porn at our kids every single day, and we parents have to be there to help our kids fight.

Today’s kids are growing up in a culture that doesn’t like them and is content to destroy them.

This is very serious stuff. The problem for your son is this: he is the victim here. It’s tempting to blame him but really, the bad guy in this scenario is the porn industry itself, the producers who are making this content so readily available and preying on the young and vulnerable. So get that in your head: your son is the victim.

Then, thank him for telling you. And if he didn’t tell you and you found out some other way, tell him you are so glad you found out. Before you address anything else, you want to establish that you’re on his team and that he can trust you.

Tell him that you know he’s not the enemy. Communicate clearly to him that he’s in a tough spot because you know porn can be accessed with the click of a button, but assure him that you want to help him and, if possible, that his dad wants to help him, too.

It’s important your kids know you’re on their team and are there to fight for them.

After establishing trust and acknowledging that he is the victim, address his shame. Trust me, he’s going to feel ashamed, so you must tell him he isn’t shameful; porn is shameful. He isn’t the problem; porn is.

After taking these steps, you are going to have to set some tough rules. Like, taking his phone away and not allowing any electronics in his bedroom. (Every parent should tell their kids no electronics in the bedroom—especially if you have a teenage boy in the home.) Anytime he is on the internet, it needs to be when you or his dad is in the room with him. No exceptions.

These are strict rules but explain to him that you’re doing this to help him, not hurt him.

Helping your teen who struggles with porn will require active parenting, not passive.

Also, make sure he knows there is a solution to this addiction. He needs hope. He feels terrible. He feels stuck and like a monster has its teeth stuck into him. You need to tell him he’s going to break it. It’s going to take time, it’s not going to be easy, but he can do it, and you are there to help. Helping your son will require active parenting. This is not the time to be passive.

He may need professional help as well. A good counselor who specializes in addiction in teens could be a huge help during a time like this. Don’t know where to find a good counselor? Ask your pediatrician. Pediatricians deal with these types of things all the time and they have resources to tell you about.

Simply because you’ve written to me gives me so much hope for your son. He has a mother who cares, and that will go a very long way in his life.

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Feeling a a bit uneasy about having "the talk" with your son or daughter?
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