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We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making cookies, setting up our crèche scene, hosting festive gatherings. Our celebrating is a welcome time! But, the gift buying, family gatherings, and extra cooking all comes with its extra stress.  

“It is almost appropriate then that when we celebrate Christmas each year it seems to be a more difficult time of year. We partially cause this stress ourselves. We always want Christmas to be so picture perfect—like that beautiful nativity scene we display—and we put great effort into making plans with our families, cooking the tastiest meals, purchasing the perfect gifts, hanging decorations, and keeping a smile, while still handling all of the other responsibilities that come with family life,” says Dr. Christopher Stravitsch, LPC, LMFT of Rejoice Counseling.And let’s be honest, getting all of your family members together carries a certain level of stress even when you love each other and truly enjoy each other’s company.”

This stress, even though it may be self-induced as Dr. Stravitsch explains, is still stress and it can trigger old and new coping habits that end up hurting us more than helping us navigate this season intended to focus on the “Word made flesh” (John 1:14). These unhealthy coping habits can include excessive drinking and eating, binging on pornography and masturbating, letting prayer routines fall by the wayside, and escaping into social media while putting down your guard on how your children are using the Internet.

Even though these holidays can be tough, you can avoid getting trapped yourself and encourage your parishioners to avoid unhealthy behaviors used to cope (and also protect their kids), especially during these holy days, with these five messages you can include in your bulletins, e-news or social media communications this season. Each message has a particular focus to encourage those in your faith community with the appropriate use of technology.

1. Searching for the perfect Christmas gift for your spouse? Even the angel on the tree can't top this.


We spend a large amount of time and energy on the Internet, so much so that our identity is often tied up in what we do online. Without the transparency that Internet accountability software brings, we are likely to have trouble truly obtaining the love and intimacy that our hearts so deeply desire, and maybe even more so desire in this season of cuddles by the fire, lighting of the tree, and romantic and festive dates.  

In marriage, even during these days with mistletoe and hot chocolate, the isolation that comes with no accountability with our devices easily leads to division. Bringing the truth of what you see and do online into your relationship allows God to heal division and gives you and your spouse the freedom to belong to one another in a unity that needs no walls.

When you set up your smartphone to send your spouse regular reports of your Internet activity, your spouse is with you throughout the day, even in the details, which is exactly where you want them to be. Choose to give the perfect you can give to one another this Christmas. Break down any and all walls with Internet accountability. Learn more at Covenant Eyes.

Read: How Much Accountability is Necessary in Marriage?

2. ‘Tis the Season for Giving Gadgets (and Consuming Porn).  

Christmas brings much excitement, but some of these excitements can also open the door to hurt and pain. Each new gadget, if not properly protected, can increase the likelihood of you and your spouse consuming porn, or even your children being exposed to pornography.

Now, we’re not saying don’t give technology or gadgets for Christmas. These devices encourage all kinds of healthy learning, make it easier to communicate with loved ones who live farther away, and so much more. Take this as encouragement to be smart about. Learn what Internet doorways the new technology opens up, and make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself from falling into unhealthy coping behaviors to deal with the holiday stress and your children from any unwanted discoveries.

As the primary educators of your children, your kids will take their cues from you. If you haven’t ever talked with them about how to use the Internet wisely or sexuality or what type of pictures are bad, then they most likely won’t talk about those topics with you either.

Provide a real gift that keeps on giving: Protect your kids from pornography. Where to start?  Read this free e-book by Covenant Eyes: Connected: How Strong Family Relationships Lead to Internet-Safe Kids.

Read: A Christmas Letter to Parents

3. Quit Porn This Advent (or Don’t Start).

Advent can be a tricky time with many of us trying to find the correct mix of repentance, joy, preparation, anticipation, and Christmas parties. Not to mention the question of when it’s ok to throw ourselves into Christmas music. When we celebrate Christmas, we enter into the reality that God became incarnate, that He is actually with us in the real mess and the real beauty of our lives. For most of us, though, even if we want to be aware of the gift of God’s presence at Christmas, we usually have no idea how to do that, and our minds and hearts are already so crowded—especially with pornography.

Our exposure to pornography quickly hooks us into a frenzied hunger that can never be satiated and is always looking for ways to get more, even if we are not looking at it all the time. This keeps us from being able to enjoy the things in life that are actually fulfilling. Setting limits to our tech usage and safeguarding our devices this Advent might seem like a strange way to prepare for Christmas, but Saint John the Baptist challenges us to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths!” If the pathways of our minds and hearts are more like shallow streams running quickly in every direction, the coming of Christ will pass us by like a faint memory.

Take advantage of this holy season before you. Prepare the way of the Lord with the help of STRIVE: A 21-Day Detox from Porn featuring Matt Fradd. It is a step-by-step plan to break free from porn, delivered each day. Powerful videos, challenges, live events, a free trial to Covenant Eyes, and a world-wide community included.  

Read: Taking Simple, Concrete Steps This Advent to Prepare the Way of the Lord

4. Let go of the past and cut off sin in your life this advent.

Don’t let others or yourself hold your past over your head. Make the decision this Advent to sacrifice to be the person God is calling you to be, to be the saint he desires you to be. This includes making the decision to cut off sin from your life.

Anything that will help you remove this sin of pornography from your life, something that is keeping you from being more completely you, do what it takes to say no and move on to a fuller and more joyful life. Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability and Filtering can help you choose a fresh start. Get 30 days FREE with the Promo Code: HOLIDAY30.

Take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re living the full and fruitful life that God has laid out for you. If not, today is your day! Do something as you celebrate the Advent season and prepare our minds and hearts for the glorious arrival of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Read: How a Reboot Plan Can Help You Overcome Porn

5. How will you navigate tech this year with holiday gatherings and vacations?

When families join up for holidays, trips, and vacations, they often overlook or relax the precautions they have in place for devices. Parents are distracted with travel details, cooking, and visiting with their loved ones, but the environment can be ripe for children to be alone with each other and be exposed to pornography. Some family members and adult friends may not know that the average age of first exposure to pornography is very young (ages 8 to 13 depending on the study).

The good news is you can train your child to know what pornography is and how they can defend themselves.

Parents rightfully want to preserve a child’s innocence, but knowledge about sexuality doesn’t harm their innocence. In fact, it can help preserve it. Many parents fear providing information about sex to their children will make them curious. But every kid is curious, and not talking about it leaves our children unprepared.

God created sex and he made it to be good. Our job as parents is to teach our children God’s plan for sex and marriage, even when our culture seeks to warp that design. The resource to help us is the free 7-day Safe Digital Family Challenge by Covenant Eyes. You can sign up for this email challenge by texting SECURE to 66866.

Read: 'Tis the Season for Peer-to-Peer Porn Exposure
Resource
Ally Covenant Eyes

Covenant Eyes: Screen Accountability™

Description

Be the best version of you.

Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability is designed to help you live with integrity on your devices by sharing your activity with a trusted friend.

Audience: Adults and supervised minors 
Language: English
Resource Type: Software 
Cost: $15.99 / month.  

Amanda Zurface is the Catholic Content Specialist for Covenant Eyes. Amanda holds a License and MA in Canon Law and a BA in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. Amanda has served in various roles within the Catholic Church both in the United States and internationally. She is the co-author of Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture and Transformed by Beauty. She resides in Lexington, Ohio where she manages amandazurface.com: providing online spiritual direction and canon law consultation.