This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

Back when I was planning on sending my son to school, the things I figured I would have to teach him would be respect, sex, drugs, how to work hard, and so forth—things school doesn’t always teach well. I didn’t realize I would have to teach him about porn.

When we decided to homeschool, I felt so good because I could teach him the facts of life and such on my own terms, at my own speed.  I would not be competing against the kids in school, or against the school.  What I didn’t count on was the competition from porn online.

My husband caught our ten-year-old son watching porn and announced to me that our son definitely liked girls.  While I don’t have a problem with teaching him about the birds and bees at his age, I do have a problem with what porn does to you psychologically at any age.  The Art of Manliness did a great job highlighting the psychological effects of porn.

In order to teach my son about porn I had to understand it.  I didn’t want to just lock down the internet and walk away.  That teaches him nothing for when he is older and I can’t be around to lock down his world.

1.  Porn is Like junk food.  Boys (and some girls) can’t stop watching.
My husband is obviously a man, and when I asked him what to do he just gave me a blank stare. I started asking other women how they handle porn.  I met a lot of blank stares. Let me say this, if your husband has any type of sexual drive, he likes porn.

As I learned about my new enemy, I learned it’s like junk food for the mind.  One afternoon I found myself hidden in my bathroom from the kids, sneaking some chocolate.  That’s when I realized, if I couldn’t stop hiding to eat chocolate, my son couldn’t stop watching porn.  No matter what it is you are hiding, stopping is hard.
 
2.  The moment you make something a big deal is the moment it becomes one.
My husband sat down with our son and gave him this advice: “It’s not ok to watch porn, but it’s OK to feel that way.  You can’t help it.” This advice twisted in my son’s mind into some type of permission, and every time he was caught, he would echo back those words, “I can’t help it.”

I wanted to keep catching him, but I knew if I made a big deal out of it, I wouldn’t catch him because he would get better at hiding it.  I didn’t know how to handle the problem, but I knew I didn’t want to get into a competition with him of hide and seek. I would lose, because I don’t have the motivation or inclination to learn all the secret passageways of the Internet.
 
3.  The punishment needs to be worse than the pleasure of porn.
It wasn’t my concern over the distortion of sex from porn that spurred me to figure this out, as much as it was a desire to overcome his “I can’t help it” excuse. I came up with a punishment of working 40 hours of chores each time he was caught. If he was too tired from working, he wouldn’t have energy to watch it. Part of me was right, he didn’t have energy to sneak around, but he did have energy to keep repeating that line, “I can’t help it.” over and over.

After every chore I would ask him how he felt about porn and every chore his answer was the same smug response.  I wanted to choke him, or beat him, or something. But instead, I just made the chores worse and worse and slowly the attitude behind the words started to dissipate.

4.  Teach a lesson, because punishment won’t teach anything by itself.
I must confess I hate cleaning my refrigerator.  I really hate cleaning it.  I hadn’t cleaned it for a year, so you can imagine how bad it was in a family of seven when my son had to clean it.  He had completed 30 hours of work.  Halfway through the cleaning he came to me and sincerely said he never wanted to watch porn again. He begged me to let him stop cleaning the refrigerator.  I made him finish the fridge, but I let him off for the remaining hours. Once the lesson was learned, I was done teaching.

5. Reward confessions.
We came up with a system.  I would lock down the internet the best I could, and he would tell me when he found a way to watch porn. As long as he told me, he wouldn’t be punished with cleaning the fridge.  But if I caught him, the fridge was waiting.

This has worked well, we are porn-free in our house, basically. At least when it happens I am told about it. The hardest part about all of this is accepting my son’s monitoring of himself while not freaking out over the degrading habit.