If it can happen at my house, it can happen anywhere. I don’t say that because I am proud, quite the opposite.
For those of you who know me, you know that I am passionate about Human Trafficking. Because of that passion, I spend a good deal of time talking about the dangers of pornography, and how it is a precursor that feeds the demand for Human Trafficking. (Let’s be honest, it’s not natural for an adult to have thoughts of being inappropriate with a child, or a variety of other situations that occur in the world of trafficking.)
Because of this passion, my kids (especially my twin 12 year old boys) have had hard conversations with both their dad and I about being cautious what their eyes see. Before they go to a friends house, we talk openly about what their action plan is if something inappropriate is in their path (violence, pornograpy, etc) To say that we are a house that has buried our head in the sand and just ignored the issues is absolutely NOT the truth. We haven’t looked the other way.
I’ve written this post in my head a hundred times in the past week. At first I contemplated writing it differently, but then I realized that if none of us talk about the real stuff, if none of us share because it is embarrassing, or because we want to protect our kids, or a variety of other reason, well, then, we will all think we are the only ones. So, while it is hard to share, I feel like someone has to be the brave one that says let’s link arms and fight this battle together, instead of hiding in shame.
Before I write more, I’m asking this… My kids are GREAT kids. They really are. Please, if you know our family, don’t use this as a way to take a shot at us. It is the lie of the enemy that keeps us captive and allows the bondage of things such as this to run wild. What is hidden in the dark cannot be seen. My hope here is to shine a light in a dark place. It is also my hope that by sharing fewer of you will hide in shame, but instead will ask for help and find resources in your communities to help at your home.
As I already mentioned, I have spent a great deal of time talking to our boys about pornography. Not because they were boys, but because they were older. Our daughter is 8, and we have talked about it some, but not to the degree I had with the boys. All of our devices have safety set and all of our Youtube apps also have safety set to on. The kids aren’t allowed to take devices into their rooms, or into private places. I “thought” we were protected.
You can imagine my surprise when I discovered inappropriate sites on my daughters IPOD. On 3 different occasions, she was able to access inappropriate material. I.WAS.MORTIFIED! How had this happened? My heart broke for my little girl, and for what her innocent 8 year old eyes had seen.
As I was tucking my daughter in and began to talk to her about this that night, I could instantly see the shame come over her. The look in her eyes is not one that I will forget anytime soon. You see, even at the age of 8, the enemy knew how to use his shame to keep her captive instead of to empower her to ask me for help. I switched of my anger and disappointment at her and myself, and instead focused on how Jesus would handle this situation. I called out the shame that I saw in her, and she immediately began to get teary eyed. And then we talked about the love of Jesus, and the gift of forgiveness. And we prayed. We asked for forgiveness, and we prayed that he would erase those images from her mind, and restore her mind back to purity.
Since that first night, we have had some hard talks, and Emma decided her punishment. I have shared with her that the people and the things she saw were actors and that wasn’t how it “really” was. I also explained that some of them may not have been getting treated fairly or paid for what they were forced to do. I was able to do this in an age appropriate manner, but was still undone by having to have these talks with my 8 year old.
What’s my point? My point is, we have to be willing to have the hard conversations, and to continue to have the hard conversations. We have to continue to check and follow up, to hold accountable and to extend grace. Following are some statistics that may be alarming to you…
Open conversation is our first line of defense. I thought I had put controls in place to block such sites, but they still made it through. We can’t completely “control” access, so we need to be able to have open conversations and create an environment where we can talk without the shame. Being smart at our house is one defense mechanism, but remember, in today’s world, wifi access is everywhere. Teaching them responsibility vs. trying to control their behavior is important.
That being said, I have certainly beefed up my filtering. I’m still learning and will continue to post as we learn. Here’s a couple of things I learned.
1. Check with your internet provider. I was able to add a filter to our internet coming into our home for $2 a month that should block in appropriate sites.
3. Consider routers that assist in blocking inappropriate content such as this one.
We’re rebounding here after the past week or so. And yet, I’m convinced that our family will come out of this stronger and with more open communication. It’s also our prayer that we will be able to encourage other families to either start or continue to have hard conversations, and to not hide in their darkness. When we share and support one another, we take away the lies of the enemy.
NO perfect family here – just one that is doing the best we can to chase Jesus in our everyday life. I’m guessing many of you have “imperfect” families as well. I’d love to hear from you and pray for you. Let’s be real and do this parenting family thing together transparently, instead of hiding in our shame!
(Note, I do not have any affiliate links or receive any form of compensation for the above, just recommendations that I have looked at.)