We are the keepers for our children; the guardrails, if you will. We are the keepers over the ears, eyes, mouths, and occasionally, their nostrils if you have young children that like to shove things in there.
At least until they are able to do it on their own. We are in charge of being their protector. What they listen to, what they watch, what they eat. And today, focusing more on what they listen to and see.
I have 4 children, ages 6-13. (Boy, Boy, Girl, Boy) At an early age, I realized how much they soak in, whether we want them to or not, through those little gates.
They watch, listen and observe how you react to things, how you treat others, and how you treat your spouse. Whatever goes into the gates (Eyes, Ears, Mouth) helps shape how they will grow.
What they watch, what music they listen to, what they do on their tablets and the phones are our responsibility. Are we staying vigilant? Are we aware of the things that are going through the gates?
Since my kids have been young our family has spoken freely about sex, nudity, marriage, and gender identity. If they ask questions we have answered them for the age level that’s appropriate.
Although we are a family that has constant fart noises and potty talk, we have children that know we are a safe place to go to if they have questions or if they have seen something we weren’t able to protect them from.
The rate of children seeing porn is growing younger and younger.
“Based on available data, the likely age of a child’s first exposure to porn is around tween years… with some exposed as young as seven” from fightthenewdrug.com.
Two of my own children are older than that age group. I’ve had other parents tell me their child has confided in them or got caught viewing porn at 9 and10 years of age.
As a wife of a recovering porn addict and with children in these tween years we are aware more than ever how easily accessible it is to view porn.
Our children are in public school and we know we don’t have control over what they see or hear while they are away from us. And, as they get older there will be more times than not where they are out of the home.
That seems terrifying.
But this is where God steps in. Because friends… we were never meant to be in control. It’s not our job. It’s Gods.
Yes, we are stewards and have been given these babies to raise and guide through life but ultimately He is theirs and they are His. Until they have total responsibility, it is our job to steward that.
What do I suggest to be the best keeper you can be?
- Help teach them their identity.
They should know their identity is in Christ and be so deeply rooted in God’s love that when they leave the home they know who they are, what they stand for, and what they will stand against. Church is a great place to take our kids but if God, prayer, and His word aren’t a natural part of the conversation in your home, church will not be their protection.
- Have those uncomfortable conversations.
Beginning at a young age have conversations that are appropriate for them about body parts, what is ok for others to touch and what is not, how God made them, and the realities of sex from a Biblical standpoint.
When they ask about sex talk to them. Yes, it’s difficult at first but I would much rather I talk to them before they hear it from a friend or look it up because they are curious. Once they see something they cannot unsee it.
In fact, my son recently asked me what the number 69 meant, no doubt he heard it from a certain singer. He knew it had something to do with sex.
It was hard and uncomfortable. But I talked to him about it. I would rather him come to me than find it somewhere else.
Practicing what I preach even though I wanted to avoid the conversation and I’m thanking God right now that my kids feel safe and comfortable to talk about these things with me.
These conversations become easier over time and your children will be better prepared because of it.
- Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything.
Having your children know they can ask you anything and that you are a safe place is a bedrock of parenting well. Someone that won’t react with anger, shame, embarrassment, or guilt if they come to you with something is the goal. Remember, the more they talk to you about things happening in their lives, the better you will be able to help them navigate those situations.
- Stay up to date with any and all technology that is being used.
Please watch the shows they watch, the people and channels they follow. Before our kids can watch anything on youtube we have to pre-watch it to make sure it follows our family guidelines. You’d be surprised how an innocent-looking show can make you feel yucky, and you realize how inappropriate it actually is.
As my oldest is only 13 so I can’t speak too much on it but, for now, we are saying no social media. There are a ton of issues that come along with social media, sexual content being one of them.
If your children are using social media, have rules in place that allow for full transparency. Whether that be an app that tracks what is happening on those platforms or other procedures that your family feels good about.
For our family, we do not allow electronics in the bedroom at night and we have a centralized place to charge things at night. We also use parental controls and other apps that help monitor activity.
If you have no idea where to start with your kids or it’s super uncomfortable to speak to them, try books that help bring awareness to you and them. One suggestion that we are reading through with our kids is “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” By Kristen A Jenson MA.
If your kids are older and you feel you haven’t been able to implement these things it’s ok. You only knew what you knew but now you know and can change how you do things.
There can always be a reset.
Be present in your kids’ lives. Be the keeper even when they resist, fight or make you feel guilty. It’s our job to protect them. Until they leave us they get a limited amount of privacy.
This is not the advice of a professional. This is not the advice of a mom who now has grown children. This is advice from a mom who is in the trenches with you and learning as I grow with my children.
I may add more to this list or I may take some things out if I realized they didn’t work. But my main goal is to be their guardrail and while under my care fill their eyes, ears, and mouth with whatever is good.
Mistakes will be made (one being I let my kids eat candy before they went to school… not the best nutritious decision) but there is grace, and there is God’s wisdom to get us back on track.
Don’t grow weary of doing good, parents. Keep fighting the good fight.
If you have any questions about talking to your kids about porn, sex, or any topic that may seem uncomfortable, please reach out through Office Hours and ask. We would love to help you navigate those things!