As parents, how do we deal with an adolescent who may be addicted to hardcore pornography? We had a big argument the first time we caught him viewing sexually explicit material online, and he denied that it was a serious problem. But a few days later it happened again, and since then I’ve seen other signs that seem to indicate that he has a serious problem. Do you have any advice for us?

Perhaps it will encourage you to know that you’re not alone. Sexual addictions of all kinds have become widespread in contemporary society. In fact, contrary to the common stereotype, this is not just a male problem. It affects men and women, boys and girls, from every age group and all walks of life. This is why it’s important for parents to begin to reinforce Asset #31: Restraint as early as possible. Helping our children to learn to turn away from harmful behaviors and resist negative peer pressure (Asset #35) is imperative. Because it is rooted in the basic human craving for relationship, sexual addiction is tenacious and progressive in nature. To put it another way, porn is powerful because it offers a counterfeit form of intimacy and attachment. It’s important to keep these things in mind when seeking to help a loved one who has fallen prey to the deception that de‐personalized sex can ultimately satisfy the longings of the human heart.

The good news is that effective help is available. We would urge you to seek professional counseling for your teenager, and we strongly recommend that you do this together as a family. The most successful course of treatment takes a family systems approach that involves an initial program of intensive therapy, followed by regular and ongoing counseling sessions. Also key to recovery is identifying a trusted friend or group of individuals – Asset #3: Other Adult Relationships ‐ who will provide an environment of support and accountability.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, we’d strongly suggest that you purchase some Internet filtering software or sign up with an Internet provider that allows for parental monitoring to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. You’ll be interested to know that there are some amazing, award‐winning filters available for families. RezilientKidz highly recommends Net Nanny to give families the online protection they need. Net Nanny uses proprietary technology to categorize Internet content in real time, smartly determines what is harmful based on your settings, sends you reports, and even texts to alert you of danger. We realize that software programs of this nature aren’t necessarily the ultimate answer to problems like those your son is facing. But we feel strongly that they can play an important role in helping you keep tabs on the entire family’s online activities.