When my son told us he had been watching pornography, I wanted to throw up. When I understood the depth of his addiction and the length of time he had been watching, I berated myself, feeling inadequate as a parent and person. But mostly I felt alone.
Every other crisis I had endured, I turned to others. My parents, siblings, and friends talked me through. My church pastor or small group friends prayed and allowed me space to speak about my woes. I even saw a counselor after my first husband left me. But this time, I felt I couldn’t tell anyone.
Where Is the Help?
When my then fourteen-year-old son first told my husband and me about his problem, I didn’t sleep well. I never let him leave my side. My anxiety level was elevated. I cried unpredictably. And I searched for help. Of course, we searched for help for my son. We put Covenant Eyes on all our computers and put locks and controls on all our devices. But I mean I also searched for help for me, the mom of a teenage porn addict. But I found none. I realize my friends would have surrounded me with love and comfort, but this isn’t something you want to tell your friends, because they are the parents of your son’s friends. And because it’s his story to tell in his own time, in his own words.
So I suffered in silence. Or, rather, we suffered, my pain spilling over into my marriage. My husband felt the brunt of my torment–one moment believing the best and the next wallowing in shame and self-pity. Never mind the fear. The fear that my son would never be set free and that he would live like this for the rest of his life.
The Power of Another’s Story
A few weeks ago I spoke with a friend who recently caught her son watching pornography. This is the first connection I’ve had with another mom in the same circumstances as me. The fact that we could talk about it openly with someone else who had “been there” was a relief for both of us. We cried together. We prayed together. We built each other up. I listened as she berated herself for being stupid for not seeing it and not protecting their devices better. She felt, as did I when I first learned of my son’s addition, like a bad mother. I believe it was helpful for me to say to her, “You are not alone. This does not make you a bad mother.”
The Weight of Parenting
When our kids are young, they are time consuming. We cradle their heads and cushion their falls. We protect them by buckling them into car seats and vetting their babysitters. We pray without ceasing, hoping that one day we can let go and they will live perfect lives, clinging to God and making right decisions.
In reality, they become more time consuming as they mature. Their needs are greater and their problems are heavier. My son will never be perfect on this side of heaven. If I allow it, the weight of his addiction brings me down. I know that if I focus on it too long, I will drown.
But I know there is hope in Christ. When I focus on Him and allow His love and acceptance to comfort me, I can parent without fear, standing in my identity as a much-loved child of God. I can come alongside my son and be his advocate. I can encourage him to be the person God is molding Him to be.
So I say to you, Mom (and Dad), you are not alone. And we don’t have to battle this without help. Seek friends who can lift you up. Find others who have walked the path you are walking. Be encouraged! There is hope.