Inoculating Families Against The Effects of Pornography

J.L. Redd, Ph.D., CMHC, NOJOS Certified,

(Owner of Solace Emotional Health)

  This is a summary of Dr Redd’s full article. Click this link, Inoculating Families, to view, print and/or share the full version of this article. PRINCIPLE #1: EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY  Teach: Our bodies are sacred – One of the plain and precious truths restored to this dispensation is that ‘the spirit and the body are the soul of man’ (D&C 88:15). Exploitation of the body is, in the last analysis, an exploitation of Him who is the Light and the Life of the world (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments, 2001, 11, 13). Teach: The power of procreation is a powerful and divine gift – I would suggest reading as a family, the book, Growing Up: Gospel Answers About Maturation and Sex by Brad Wilcox. This lesson is re-read each year to meet the children’s changing developmental levels of understanding.  Teach: The harmful effects of pornography – Pornography defiles souls… It also limits our potential, is extremely addictive, and creates unhealthy expectations for marriage. Many resources are available to help us teach the harmful effects of pornography. The LDS websites, ARP and Overcoming Pornography, provide helpful information about pornography. The Church also produced a special 4-part Family Home Evening lesson, entitled “Family Home Evening: Sexual Intimacy is Sacred and Beautiful.” To find this lesson, visit the website overcomingpornography.org or do a search on LDS.org with the terms “FHE, sexual intimacy.” Teach: Family members why premarital sexual stimulation is problematic – Intense, sexually arousing experiences generate a plethora of neurochemicals and hormones. These neurochemicals facilitate critical qualities of connection, endurance, and attachment in a marital relationship, but can be confusing and poisoning to premarital relationships. Some of these (with a brief description of the way they impact us) are:
  • Dopamine – is the “pleasure” neurochemical.
  • Glutamate/Norepinephrine – are referred to as the “memory chemical.”
  • Testosterone – is known for producing a surge of energy and arousal.
  • Oxytocin/Vasopressin – These are known as “cuddle hormones.”
  • Serotonin – is sometimes referred to as Nature’s “Prozac.”
These “fabulous 5” each play a very significant and important part in promoting marital relationships that are satisfying, enduring, and connected. But what is the individual being “bonded” or “attached” to, if they are looking at a computer screen? The booklet, called The Language of Recovery,” written by Gordon Bruin, is a very understandable resource and clear explanation of pornographic addictions.   PRINCIPLE #2: CONNECT WITH YOUR FAMILY Practice “Purposeful Parenting;” Focus on resilience, not perfection Invite loving and intimate family relationships
  • Pray to understand your children’s strengths and how to help them with their weaknesses.
  • Be patient and realize that children need time to develop resilience.
  • Strive to understand that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn.
  • Allow natural, logical consequences to serve as the disciplinarian.
  • Respect children’s decisions, even if their poor choices lead to lost privileges.
  • Refrain from berating children for breaking the rules.
  • Do not discourage effort by criticizing harshly.
  • Rather than praising accomplishment, encourage and praise effort.
  • “Praise your children more than you correct them. Praise them for even their smallest achievement” (President Ezra Taft Benson [1899–1994], “The Honored Place of Woman,” Ensign, 1981, 107). (Lyle J. Burrup, Ensign, March 2013).
Avoid unrighteous dominion in parenting practices – Unrighteous dominion is often accompanied by constant criticism and the withholding of approval or love. Those on the receiving end feel they can never please such leaders or parents and that they always fall short. Talk “Below The Line” -In our communication with others, especially spouse and children, it is helpful to identify and discuss the emotions that promote about 90% of our behavior, rather than focusing entirely on visible behavior and audible communication that our loved ones use. Instead of asking “What’s wrong” or why are you so ticked off,” we can “talk below the line” by the following 3 steps:
  • Throw a tentative dart at the emotion you think might be driving your loved one’s behavior and/or words, by saying; “you seem a little sad” or “it seems like you are upset.” This statement invites them to self-assess and functions as a very gentle invitation to talk about the emotion. If they validate or correct your stab at the emotion, and want to talk, then
  • Continue to talk about that emotion with questions like “what is this like for you,” “what is causing this feeling,” “how strong is this,” “how often does this happen,” “how does this emotion affect your behavior,” or “what do you need from me?”
Click here [scan] to view, print, and/or share the handout “Creating Connection by Talking Below The Line”  Develop a daily family connection tradition – Set a time each day, as a family, to interact, connect, relate, and help each other feel part of something more important than themselves. Schedule one on one time with each child  – Take time with each child, on a consistent rotating basis, to validate, reassure, compliment, praise, and encourage our children.   PRINCIPLE #3:  GET INTERNET FILTERS Minimizing the negative effect of media on our families
  • Hold family councils and decide what our media standards are going to be.
  • Spend enough quality time with our children that we are consistently the main influence in their lives, rather than the media or any peer group.
  • Make good media choices and set a good example for our children.
  • Limit the amount of time our children watch TV or play video games, and/or use the Internet. Virtual reality must not become their reality.
  • Use Internet filters and TV programming locks. If a child views pornography accidentally or is encouraged by someone to view it, immediately turn it off and tell an adult.
  • Keep TVs and computers in a common room, not in a bedroom or a private place.
  • Take time to watch appropriate media with children and help them feel the difference between uplifting choices and degrading ones (Let Our Voices Be Heard, Ensign, Nov. 2003, 18-19).
Control the “Gateway” of sexualized media
  • No Double Standards – Parents need to be the example of self-control, intelligence, and wisdom
  • Be careful about the amount of time spent on media and cell phones
  • Be careful about which video games you allow in the home.
  • Avoid “sleepovers” and know your kids’ friends, schoolmates, and associates
  • Be sensitive to material in DVD collection, shopping catalogs, and TV commercials.
  • Be aware of music, song lyrics, album art, novels, and books that your children use.
  • Unsubscribe (or carefully manage) inappropriate Streaming Media (Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV)
  • Regardless of the movie rating, know what you will be watching (http://www.kids-in-mind.com)
  • Establish a “Family Media Policy, using a Family Council to determine media guidelines
  • Avoid chat rooms
“We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection, which may cause them to be silent again. We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding. They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thoughts, and energy” (Linda Reeves, Ensign, April 2014). Ideas For Internet Protection
  • Spend time with your kids on the internet
  • Keep computers in public places, and cell phones out of kid’s bedrooms at night
  • Teach children to never give out names or personal information
  • Establish a protocol for “purposeful” internet usage – avoid randomly surfing
  • Never communicate with strangers on the internet
A Practical 3-Step Protection Process
  1. Install filters at the Wi-Fi Source of your home (not just on devices). “DNS Gateway” is a great option.
  2. Activate TV blocks to eliminate inappropriate TV programming, and browser plug-ins like “Ad Block Plus” to remove inappropriate YouTube material.
  3. Install accountability software on all electronic devices: This type of software is not a filter, but automatically texts and/or emails a pre-designated list of people, if any electronic devices are being used to access something inappropriate. You can access accountability software programs online. One example is accountable2you.com.
“Filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us” (Linda Reeves, Ensign, April 2014).   PRINCIPLE #4: “ARMOR UP” EVERY DAY  We facilitate a change in nature, each time we feel the spirit: “The only change that really matters is a change of heart… In the end, if we don’t make that change, it will not matter what other changes we have chosen” (C. Terry Warner, Bonds, 00.2). God’s promise of success: 1 Nephi 15:24  – “And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” “And whoso would hold fast unto the word of God” . . . (1) they would never perish; (2) neither could the adversary overpower them unto blindness [nor] (3) lead them away to destruction.” The million-dollar question is “how do we (and our children) hold fast” to the word of God, in order to receive these wonderful promised blessings? How do we access the word of God? How do we get His word inside of us? There are at least 3 ways: (1) Scriptures; (2) Prophets; and (3) Personal Revelation. Scriptures – “I feel certain that if in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Marion G. Romney, Ensign, April 1980). Conference Talks – “I do not hesitate to promise that you will be uplifted, your resolution to do what is right will be stronger, you will find solutions to your problems and your needs, and you will be led to thank the Lord for what you have heard” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 5). Personal Revelation – Sins are remitted not in the waters of baptism, as we say in speaking figuratively, but when we receive the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Spirit of God that erases carnality and brings us into a state of righteousness. We become clean when we actually receive the fellowship and companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is then that sin and dross and evil are burned out of our souls as though by fire. (Bruce R. McConkie A New Witness of the Articles of Faith, 290, see also 2 N 31:17; Moroni 6:4;8:25-26)   PRINCIPLE #5: FORTIFY FAMILIES WITH “In-The-Moment” MANAGEMENT SKILLS God’s great promise of bridling passions – If we will “bridle” our passions, we will be “filled with love.”Alma 38:12. Being filled with love is what Heavenly Father wants for each of his children. Satan’s goal = being filled with lust. We can better bridle by never crossing “The Line” between love and lust – Because of our Heavenly Father’s love for us, and His desire for our happiness, He has given us a guideline that, if followed, will foster happy pre-marital relationships and facilitate making a more clear and confident decision about who we marry. What is “The Line”?
  • “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that to you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body … Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings” (The First Presidency, For the Strength of Youth, 27) 
What are some of the complications of crossing “the line” before marriage?
  • Like sliding down a steep water slide, it is hard to stop, once you start
  • Couples tend to keep going further each time they get together
  • Crossing the line changes “love” into “lust”.
  • It clouds the connection with Heavenly Father
  • It compromises our connection with the Holy Ghost (loss of the Spirit)
  • It can become addictive
  • It weakens communication
  • It reduces relationship development (getting to know each other well)
  • It prevents the establishment of that essential foundation of friendship
  • It blinds couples and blurs their ability to recognize the red flags in their relationship
  • Selflessness is replaced by selfishness
  • It objectifies partners (couples tend to look at each other as objects)
  • Opportunities and wholesome memory-making activities are lost
  • It leaves participants thirsty for more
  • It limits choices
“Turn and Tell” – Perhaps as important as anything parents can do, is to strive to keep the lines of communication open so that our children will talk to us when they are exposed to inappropriate material. A healthy family habit and protocol is to turn off the computer screen when something inappropriate surfaces and tell a parent.   TO SUMMARIZE, The 5 principles are: (1) Educate your family with consistent conversations about the power of procreation and harmful effects of pornography; (2) Connect with your family members with purposeful parenting and fostering resilient family relationships; (3) Close pornography portals; (4) Armor up by “holding fast” to the Iron Rod and feeling the Spirit; and (5) Fortify family with “in the moment” management skills. What does the entirety of the inoculation process look like? There is a description of the process (coupled with a powerful promise) in Mosiah 7:33: “But if you will turn to the Lord will full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” In essence, the offering of your whole soul, accessing the help of the Savior’s atonement, and the release from bondage or addiction, seem to be summarized by four words: Turn, Trust, Work, and Wait.   Text Sheri at (801) 613-8885 to schedule a presentation on this subject.