I love the neighborhood we live here in Germany. Our dead end road is full of kids that are the same ages as mine. They play outside together a lot and the culture is one where people look out for one another and care for the safety of all the kids. I can honestly say, regardless of their worldview or belief system, we share a common goal in protecting our children.
But already at age 6, when my son finished his first week of the 1st grade, he had learned every foul word there was in the German Language. We learned how quickly opposing values would present themselves to our kids. We decided at that moment, that the best course of action would be to equip and empower our children to make good choices built around Family Values and we began speaking these values into our kids. We never dreamed that at 6 years old we’d have to talk to our son about “grown up” things but we knew that he would be confronted with an array of topics now and we wanted him to be prepared.
Before the days of the Internet, the typical age for children to begin viewing “soft” porn found in magazines was between the ages of 11-13. Some researchers are saying the more common age of exposure to pornography now is down to 8 years old. For us it was clear that the question was no longer “if” our kids would be exposed to pornography, but “when.”
From that perspective, we tried to be intentional in talking to our son (and now our soon to be 1st grade daughter) to prepare them and equip them to handle the situation.
In our line of work (fighting human trafficking and forced prostitution), we receive countless requests for marriage and personal counseling from those who struggle with pornography. We have seen it utterly ruin marriages and brutally enslave individuals.
Sexual sin (and I’ll include sexual abuse here) is a deceptive and destructive battle that we never wanted our children exposed to but we realized that the only way to protect them was to equip them to fight against it.
Someone Showed Our 8-Year Old Son a Naked Picture of a Woman
A few weeks ago, I walked in on a conversation that my now 8 year old son was having with my husband. My husband looked up at me and said that our son was exposed to a picture of a naked woman by another kid, 2 years older than him, who he normally does not spend any time with. After the initial shock wore off, I asked him to walk me through the scenario and how he responded to the situation. He said,
“When he showed me that picture, I looked away and said that I am not allowed to look at those kinds of pictures.”
Embarrassed by my son’s lack of engagement, the boy put the smart phone away and said he would never show him those kinds of pictures again. In talking with our son about what happened, he was able to identify some key points that I wanted to share about.
1. He was able to identify that he felt uncomfortable with what was happening.
2. He knew how to handle the situation
At the close of our conversation, I said something we had often told him, “Son, we cannot be with you all the time to monitor what you are being exposed to when you are around other people.” And he immediately chimed in, saying, “But I listen to your teaching and that’s how I know how to handle different situations!” It was a parenting WIN moment for us.
I wrote this article with my son’s permission. When I asked him if I could share his story, he was so glad at the thought that other parents would hear his story and help their kids to learn how to handle such situations. The experience taught him a lot and it gave us a chance to talk about what it means to have good character and what the Bible teaches about keeping bad company. It was a sobering experience for him. On the other side of it, I can say that he gained a deeper respect for the relationship that we have with him as his parents.
Here are some of the family values that we have been developing over the past few years.
1. Body Safety Rules
Here is a graphic we found that helped us to talk about Body Safety Rules with our kids:
We make this topic a casual and common discussion. We talk about if they felt safe after being at a friends house and give them the opportunity to share if there was something that made them feel uncomfortable. This gives them the platform to share openly with us.