I remember the first time we sat the boys down in December 2005, to talk to them about the timing of me moving back home. We had just come back from a counseling appointment and felt like the time was right to begin this conversation. Our boys were ages 9, 6 and 3 at the time so our youngest wasn’t a part of this conversation. It was the two older boys and Trisha and myself. At this point, all they knew were two things: dad thought he wanted to be married to someone else; mom and dad still love each other and want to stay married. They had no other context for our problems. I wanted them to undertand a bigger story; my whole story.
I started to share with the boys that when I moved back home some things were going to change. We weren’t going to watch the same TV shows that we watched before. We were going to watch a lot less TV, actually. I shared with them that God longs for us to think about good things; about things that are right; about things that are true; and that I struggled to think about good things and true things and pure things when I watched certain TV shows. I wanted my heart to be different, and in order for my heart to change some of the choices I made have to change.
I then told them that one of the things that I had been learning since Trisha and I separated was that when I was there age, a close friend of our family hurt me. They touched me in ways and in places that were not right. We explained that a little more and used it as an opportunity to ask them if anyone had ever tried to touch them in that way or make them do things that they weren’t comfortable doing. It was one of the most amazing discussions I’ve ever had…ever. The freedom that I felt to be fully myself in front of my family, I had never experienced before. Which is the third mistake I want to share with you today, and it’s not an easy one:
3. I assumed the best way to help my boys handle sexual temptation was to pretend like I didn’t experience it.
I honestly thought that if my kids thought I had conquered sexual temptation they would know they could too. I was never real with Trisha and never real with them. If I’m honest, my pretending had less to do with protecting them and more to do with with protecting myself. I didn’t want to admit struggle. I didn’t want to come face to face with my sin. I didn’t want to deal with my porn addiction.
This conversation with my 9 and 6 year old, was the first of many conversations. A few years ago, I started taking our boys through a book called Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle. It is a very uncomfortable book to read and even more uncomfortable to talk about with your son. But once I got over my pride and realized how much was in the balance for my boys, it got a lot easier. It has been a huge tool for us to have honest conversations in this area.
If you are making the same mistake I made in this area where do you start? Here are some suggestions.
1. Be honest with yourself in this area.
2. Talk with your spouse about this.
3. Get the input from your pastor or a counselor.
4. Start having some honest and transparent conversations with your kids about sexual issues.
Here is what I know…just because I don’t have these conversations doesn’t mean their friends aren’t having them. I want to have as much influence in my boys life in this are as I possibly can. I want them to know as Christ-followers we are on this journey together and I am a safe place to talk, struggle, fail and find forgiveness…and so is our Heavenly Father.