My Child is Looking at Porn. What Should I Do?

A reader of my new book recently told me that he discovered his son had been looking at porn. This dad asked for my advice. I’ll sharing an edited version of that advice with you below.

But first, according to Covenant Eyes, 90% of boys and 60% of girls will have seen porn by the time they are 18. Most of them will see it at home, on a device they were given by their parents.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “not my child,” I hope you’re right. But the stats aren’t in your favor.

And as John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle say in their excellent book, A Practical Guide To Culture,

“The question,” Christian apologist Josh McDowell says, “is not ‘Will my kids see porn?’ but ‘How will they handle it when they do?'” He’s right. The vast majority of kids have had some exposure to pornography before they leave home. Many seek it out, but even if they’re not looking for porn, porn is looking for them.

Porn is looking for them.

Here’s my response, as a dad of four daughters, a former porn user myself, and someone who has helped many others on their journey to freedom.


I’m sorry you’re facing this situation with your son and pornography. It’s everywhere, preying on everyone. You’re not alone, not by a long shot. It breaks my heart, because I know how hard it was for me to overcome, and how hard we fought for our daughters’ hearts over the years. But overcoming, by the power of Christ, is very possible.

It’s good that you are searching his browsing history and keeping him accountable. Some parents buy into the cultural lie that teens deserve privacy in this area. They don’t. They need their parents to be the parents, and you’re doing it. Well done!

If I were going to talk to my son today after discovering porn in his search history for the first time, knowing what I know now, here are some thoughts I’d share as if spoken to him directly:

  • First, know this: no matter what, I love you. Unconditionally. And God does too.
  • There is nothing you can’t tell me or that we can’t work through together.
  • I see what you’ve been doing on the computer, and I’m very concerned. I’m going to do everything I can to help you break free of this, but much depends on you as well.
  • Porn is a multi-layered attack against you. It is everywhere, and probably many of your friends do it, but it will only lead to the destruction of everything you will ever love or hope to love: your future wife and family, and ultimately, all your hopes and dreams. It’ll take you down, and I don’t want that for you.
  • Porn preys on your good and natural desires. God’s design for marriage is beautiful and God wants that for you, but porn wants to take all of that away. It will prime you for expectations that no real woman can meet. It’s a deception, and deception always leads to bad places.
  • Porn is physically addictive and habit-forming. And, it always gets darker, more perverse, violent and degrading to give the same pleasure, exactly like a drug addiction. And like a drug addiction, porn will give you withdrawal symptoms as you break away from it.
  • Porn is a spiritual attack of the evil one. He truly wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and he’s destroying many people through porn. It breaks my heart for you, because I love you so much, and I hope and pray you’ll hear my heart for you.
  • Mom and I are going to ask you to do everything you can to overcome it. And we want to help you. We’re going to add some new practices and boundaries to your life to help you. You may be able to break through or sneak around our boundaries. But I hope you won’t, because that will only lead you to a bad place that I don’t want for you, because I love you so much.
  • First, you and I are going to be spending some one-on-one devotional time together. I’m sorry I haven’t taken the time to do this with you, and feel responsible for not helping you in this area. At least once a week, you and I are going to meet at (n o-clock) and work through the Bible and/or a book together. We’re going to start with Romans chapter 6, which I ultimately want you to memorize. And we’re going to start with a book like Pure Teens by John Thorington.
  • To the boundaries. Again, because we love you, we’re going to help you. You may not realize it now, but you still need your parents’ help. And while you live in our house, we’re going to help you as best we know. All of these boundaries are with the goal of helping you become a person who in your heart of hearts is free, because you are overflowing with God’s love, grace, power and goodness. In your heart, gratitude and contentment will have replaced your desires for things that are destroying you, including porn. In the meantime, boundaries are needed. So here goes.
  • You will not be allowed to use a screen in a private room. If you’re using a laptop, it’ll be at the kitchen table in plain view, not against a wall. We will always be able to see you.
  • You’ll give every electronic device back to us by one hour before bed every day.
  • We’re going to take away your phone. There are many reasons we shouldn’t have given you a phone in the first place, and I’m sorry—we didn’t know. But we know now. We may give you a flip-phone for calling. If you use texting inappropriately on the flip-phone, we’ll disable that and literally only give you a voice phone for emergencies. We’ll be checking on that to help you, because we love you.
  • We’re going to research filtering and accountability software and install it right away. It’ll be something like Covenant Eyes, OpenDNS, Circle, or maybe all of the above. The industry, especially the porn industry, is actively hunting everyone. We have to fight it, and we’re going to.
  • All of your entertainment screen time, like TV, games, computer, whatever, will be very limited until you get your grades up and show that you can walk in freedom from porn. Expect to start with less than two hours a week, and we’ll see how it goes.
  • Again, here’s why we’re doing this, my dear son. We want you to become a strong, Christ-filled and free young man. In the near future, you’ll be living on your own, and you’ll have to decide who you’re going to be, and who you’re going to serve. Are you going to serve the porn industry, and waste your life pursuing pleasures that will ultimately destroy you? Or, are you going to accept the gift of God through Christ in a newer and deeper way than ever, seek God’s forgiveness for this and all your other sins, and trust Him for the power to overcome? That’s what I want for you. That’s what I’m going to walk with you to help you.
  • Above all, I love you, dear son, and I’m with you. You and God can do anything. You’re worth fighting for, because God loves you completely and has great plans for you.

Dear reader, if this resonates with you, and you’d like more info, checkout these resources:

And, as always, I’d love to hear from you if you have more questions.

Photo by imgix on Unsplash

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