What 10 Parents Learned When Their Child Was Caught in a Porn Trap [Part 3]

by Dec 16, 2019Help Kids Heal

What 10 Parents Learned When Their Child Was Caught in the Porn Trap [Part 3]

In this 3-part series, 10 parents give their unique perspective on helping a child overcome the addictive pull of pornography. Today, in our final segment, they describe the transformations that have taken place since beginning this journey. As well, advice on what can be done to protect future generations from the harms of pornography. You can find Part 1 of this series here. And Part 2 here

One step in front of the other

Ask any parent who’s gone through it. Everything changes the day you realize your child has a secret, compulsive struggle with pornography. Nothing about it makes sense. This is your child! A good kid. Someone who likes playing ball, hanging out with family and friends, and might even be a star student. So what do you do? 

You start to address topics and conversations that you never thought you’d have to have as a parent. No one prepared you for this. But you do it anyway. You find strength and determination you didn’t know you had. You come across resources you didn’t know existed, because until now you didn’t know you needed them. 

Then you see your child grow and mature and become something greater than you could have ever imagined. And it’s not despite the struggle they’ve had—but because of what they’ve learned to overcome. Looking back, you start to see that the experience you’ve both gained has the potential to shape and influence the community around you. As the saying goes: 

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”– Francis of Assisi

Paying it forward (with knowledge)

Sift carefully through the final part of this series. Within these real-life accounts, there are nuggets of wisdom you won’t want to miss. The parents interviewed have walked through the valley, so to speak. There, they’ve shed their fears and instead found courage and strength. In that process, they’ve helped establish a child on a path to healing and recovery. As you read you will learn about:

  • Positive outcomes from this experience
  • How they strengthened their relationship with their child
  • Advice on how you can protect your child from pornography
  • Hopes and concerns about raising children today

Whether or not your own child is struggling, these stories can increase your compassion for those fighting to free kids from the porn trap.

PYM: Has anything good come from this experience?  

All the parents described intense challenges that came as a result of their child’s relationship with pornography. However, once parent and child felt the path towards healing and recovery was established, they expressed a number of positive outcomes. These include: seeing personal growth, learning greater empathy, being less quick to judge, breaking down barriers, and more!

I see incredible potential 

Our son is so drawn to help others. I know we haven’t seen his full healing yet. But when that happens, combined with his amazing personality, he will be a force for good to be reckoned with. The potential is incredible —Sharon

I’ve learned what makes me a successful parent

It has been amazing on a personal level. It forced me to discover my own personal identity. I had to learn that I was okay no matter what successes or obstacles my children were facing. What makes me a successful parent is my commitment, love, and willingness to believe in my children against the odds. —Toni

Our family was stronger than we knew

You might think an experience like this would tear us apart. But it hasn’t. My husband and I attended every court hearing together with our son. It’s so sad, but dozens of kids were there with no one to mentor or support them. I made sure our son was always dressed appropriately and spoke respectfully. Immediately the judge acknowledged the family support. Both she and our lawyer were interested in getting our son the help he needed. They kept asking, “What do we need to do to support this young man?”  They saw his potential. —Ruth

No more dirty secrets

It’s been a challenge. But one good thing is, we figured out how to take secretive, private issues that cause a lot of pain and bring them out in the open where we can deal with them. Life is still OK. We learn, we love, and we move on. Like any other mistakes we make, this too was an opportunity for growth.  —Josh

Success against great opposition

My kids now know they can succeed against incredible odds. Because of what they’ve overcome, they are more aware of God’s love and His power in their lives. Because of what they’ve experienced, they’re aware of what triggers them and what motivates them to do good. And because of what they’ve learned, they know how to treat women better. —Alana

PYM: What has helped strengthen your relationship with your child throughout this journey? 

Part of managing with addictive behaviors present in the home is understanding how to continue with day-to-day routines. Parents found that worrying about the future was a distraction to their own health and their child’s recovery. Conversely, being present and involved in their child’s interests and hobbies helped strengthen their relationship and open doors to deeper communication. Expressing unconditional love was another key ingredient. 

Doing hard things together

I got good at listening to things that were hard to listen to. There are still choices my son makes that I have a hard time with. But he knows he can count on me (and the rest of our family) any time of day or night. We just keep building a relationship of trust. I think it helps that we focus on the things we have in common. We also take on challenges together. One time we hiked a mountain through the night, just so we could be at the summit for sunrise. There were twelve in our group, but my son and I were the only two that stayed to the end. He knows that with family he never needs to be alone.  —Sharon

Grace, forgiveness, and self-care

The most important thing we learned and shared with our kids is that our house is a house of grace. We celebrate making mistakes and trying again. This is all part of living the dream! We fail and then we pick ourselves back up again and again. It was crucial for me to figure out how to apply this forgiveness to my own self-care as well. —Toni

Being vulnerable, not fearful

My son appreciates when I share my concerns and vulnerabilities about his progress. This is completely different than me going into fear mode. In fact, nothing disconnects us faster than when I spiral into he’s-screwing-up-his-life mentality! That’s just not a healthy place to parent from. —Macey

Feeling loved

It was important for our son to know that everyone in the family loved him. He was going through tough issues related to pornography but that didn’t make him weird or unlovable. —Josh

Related: Helping the Kid Who Doesn’t Want Help

PYM: Based on your experience, what is the best way to protect kids from the harms of pornography? 

Overwhelmingly, parents agreed the best way to protect children is to change the conversation in the home. Parents should be encouraged to filter and monitor their child’s internet use. But it is more important that kids learn from their parents how to identify both positive and negative expressions of sex. When parents lead honest and open conversation about sex, children will feel secure turning to them for answers. 

Build it into your routine

As parents, we have to normalize talking about the body and become our child’s go-to-expert on all things sex-ed. We can’t afford to stay quiet on issues that might feel uncomfortable. Make it your daily dinner time conversation! (laughs) Of course that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not far off. —Sharon

Review emergency preparedness

First, it’s always good to review the basics. Use devices in common areas. Collect phones at night. Install filters and apply parental controls. Second, know what’s out there. Educate yourself. Third, be prepared for when it comes into your home. I trusted my son. Never did I think something like this would happen. The “nicest” kids can find themselves tempted and in trouble. Think. How will you react when it happens? —Ruth

Related: 8 Best Questions to Ask When Your Child has Seen Porn 

Visit our Help & Heal Page for more tips to prepare yourself on how to react when your kids tell you they have been exposed to pornography.

Give your kids a plan

While kids are young, block access to pornography as much as possible. Meanwhile, start having age-appropriate conversations about everything! We can’t afford not to talk to our kids about sex. If they’re are on social media, then they’re already coming across pornography.  As children grow, we need to teach them how to deal with sexualized images when they see them. —Alana

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Positive communication

I’m still a huge fan of filtering content. Keep your wifi as clean as possible. But you also have to communicate with your kids. We need to be able to talk with our kids about porn and sex as comfortably as we would talk about what we’re having for lunch. —Macey

Be tech savvy. Deal with issues upfront. Stay open and be positive about sexuality and attraction. —Josh

PYM: Do you think parents raising young children today have an advantage? Why or Why not? 

Most parents agreed that the information we have about the addictive nature of pornography should give children today the advantage. However, they are concerned not enough is being done to use that information.

Advantage: better information available

I feel really hopeful for the next generation. They’re not being hijacked. They know what’s coming. They’re going to act smarter than we did in part because they understand that addiction is real. They’re going to have better conversations with their kids about sexuality. And they’re going to navigate the technology better. And their kids will do even better than they did. More and more the public is going to see this as the health crisis it is. We will see policy changes in the near future. —Toni

Disadvantage: too many ignore the issue

I fear that parents are too naive. Many are under the illusion it won’t happen to them. What’s scares me, the stuff coming at kids today is much more intense then what was coming at my child 10-plus years ago. Also, there’s not enough public attention on this. Even the women’s movement, for the most part, hasn’t made the connection between #metoo and pornography. —Sharon

I want to say parents today are at an advantage; but I’m afraid they’re not really paying attention to what they need to know. —Macey

There are so many more resources—really good resources—families can turn to today. The problem is that most parents remain naïve. They have no idea what challenges their kids are facing online. If they did, no one would give their kid a smartphone (laughs)! But it’s human nature to assume innocence until something shatters that perception. —Alana

How many battles won?

Hopefully you noticed that this series has always been about the parents. It’s about the transformation they’ve experienced in helping a child caught in the porn trap. And why that is key to their child’s success. Still, you are likely beside yourself wondering, “What about the kids? How many are free from the porn trap?” 

The truth is, overcoming pornography takes time. How fast a child arrives at their destination is never as important as how strong they become along the way. What we’ve discovered is that good kids fare better when they have parents who are willing to walk beside them, fight for them, love them … and never give up.

The journey

Recently, my son and I took the train to visit family. We had hours to just sit and talk while watching the scenery. It was so good. We got along really well. And it was great connecting with family too. It’s interesting to think about how hard I worked to have my son. I went through years of fertility treatments before I got pregnant. He’s here with me for a reason. We are meant to figure it out no matter where that parenting journey takes me. —Ruth

Measure of success

My boys are so inspiring to me. They’ve fought hard to be the men they are today. As emerging teens, their sexuality was hijacked by pornography (and all the unhealthy thoughts that came with it). They were coping with life at a level that was unbelievable. They make me so proud, especially because I now understand what addiction is and what is required for self-mastery. —Toni

3 things 10 parents want you to do!

The parents interviewed were pleased to share the details of their experience because they want to empower you to be proactive:

  1. Start the conversation TODAY with your kids and keep following up.
  2. Take the lead. Get your family and friends talking about solutions.
  3. Got questions of your own? Ask a friend or join an online support community.

Join our Facebook community to hear suggestions from other parents, post questions anonymously, and give support to others. Let’s Talk About Protecting Kids From Pornography!

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

What else is in this series?

We know that the struggle with pornography is not isolated to a handful of families. Its harmful tentacles impact countless family across the globe. In Part 1, parents shared exactly what it was like to discover they had a child caught in the porn trap. Plus, what helped them mentor their child towards a path of health. 

The family unit operates as a system. When one member is in crisis, it affects everyone in some way. Part 2 in this series examines the way parents respond emotionally to their child’s struggle with pornography. And how parents discovered their own need for healing and self-care. 

Get more help!

We’ll send you our free SMART Plan Guide for Parents to prepare you to help your child heal from pornography exposure or use. Complete the form below to request your FREE guide!

Marilyn Evans
Marilyn Evans is a popular speaker, writer, and coach. She is best known for her honest and real-life approach to helping families confront uncomfortable topics like pornography.


Marilyn holds a degree in Family, Home and Social Science from Brigham Young University. She is the Founder and CEO of Parents Aware. As well, she co-hosts and produces the Media Savvy Moms podcast.


Marilyn is the mother of five sons and has lived to tell the story. She and her husband currently live in southern Ontario with two of their sons and their dog Mandi.

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