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Dr. Peter Kleponis is a Licensed Clinical Therapist who specializes in pornography and sexual addiction recovery. He wrote a piece titled, Recover from Porn Addiction: Grateful Living. In this insightful piece, he brings up a term from Alcoholics Anonymous called “stinking thinking”. This mindset enslaves one to a life of bitterness, resentment, and a feeling of unworthiness. Kleponis recommends gratitude as the recipe to fight against this kind of crippling negativity.

Living with a more thankful heart can’t help but be uplifting. It points one towards the blessings present in their life and an optimistic hope for the future. This is worlds better than a downturned face looking glumly at the bad things which have happened in your life and having disappointing expectations for what’s to come. Plus, when we start to intentionally look for the blessings in our life, it becomes an uplifting kind of treasure hunt, keeping one always ready for an unexpected gift.

When we form our children to live with gratitude, we set them up for success. Here are a few practical suggestions to foster thanksgiving in the hearts of your children.

Related: How Early Childhood Experiences Can Contribute to Sexual Brokenness 

1. Practicing Gratitude

Highs and Lows

Growing up, it was part of my family’s nightly dinner conversation for each one of us to share our “highs and lows.” While I may have rolled my eyes when my mom or dad made the transition for us to start sharing about our day, it was a really effective way to bond with my family and hear what was going on in the lives of both my parents and my siblings. This evening tradition helped to build a family culture of vulnerability and of trust.

While thankfulness is important, it is equally important not to ignore our struggles. This is a delicate dance: acknowledging our struggles while ruminating on them and allowing ourselves to be pulled down into the mire. In the words of Socrates, “falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.” Recognizing the good, even in the midst of the bad, isn’t an easy habit to acquire, but it does build strength and resilience. We can look to Psalm 119:37 when in need of strength during times of temptation, especially the temptation to lust, “avert my eyes from what is worthless; by your way give me life.”

Related: CONNECTED: A Timely Family Resource for the Pandemic and Beyond

Serving in the Community

A great way to overcome selfishness and to appreciate what you have is by participating in volunteer opportunities. The holidays are a perfect time to sign up for service projects in your community. Maybe your family could pack food at a local food bank or serve dinner at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. As Christmas approaches, you could invite your children to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse or donate gifts and toys to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Present Appeal.

Another way to bring joy to someone’s day is by visiting the lonely in nursing homes. If there are no visiting restrictions, you could call up your local nursing home and ask if there are any elderly who do not receive any visitors for your family to say a quick hello to.

Related: 6 Ways to Give Yourself a Digital Catholic Detox (Catholic Style)

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Gratitude isn’t just a nice idea. It is Saint Paul’s direct advice on how to find authentic joy and peace, not the counterfeit, temporary high that porn and masturbation offers. He writes in his letter to the Philippians:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Finally, brother, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4: 4, 8).

Related: Made in the Image of Intimate Union

2. Questions to Discuss With Your Children

Whatever is true: where does your sense of true love come from? Is this idea fostered by strong role models in your life or does your idea of “love” come from the movies and TV shows you watch? How do you interact with the people in your life? Is the majority of your communication with your friends via social media and screens? If so, consider setting aside time each week to invest in your relationships in person.

Whatever is just, pure, lovely, and gracious: are you proud of the content you consume, or are you constantly looking over your shoulder, overly attentive to who might be watching you from behind? Are you listening to wholesome music and watching television and movies that keep your heart and mind pure, or are they replaying lyrics and images in your brain that are turning you away from God? Do you surround your life with things that bring you peace and move you towards goodness, or do the things in your life draw you into lust? If you don’t think your life is one that exemplifies one of virtue, what things do you think you can change to add more of the good, true and beautiful in your life?

Related: The Power of Parents in the Internet Age

3. Being Smart About Electronics: Preventative Measures

While fostering thanksgiving and gratitude is always beneficial, it’s not the only answer to protecting your children from pornography and masturbation.

Matt Fradd is a Catholic speaker and author who specializes in digital pornography addiction. In an interview with America Magazine, he spoke about the crucial role that parents have in protecting their children’s innocence. He writes, “I wish parents who give their small children a smartphone without locking it down would see it as a very serious issue. We shouldn’t allow society, family, and friends to pressure us into giving children what amounts to a portable X-rated movie.”

Related: The 5 Benefits of Covenant Eyes for a Catholic Family

This is why filtering and accountability software on computers, phones, and tablets is key! The accountability provides you with an extra layer of information about where your children are browsing the Internet. In addition, the filtering software blocks any dangerous sites. Fradd recommends installing software like Covenant Eyes accountability software on your children's devices. Then, you can register yourself as their accountability partner.

You are not empty-handed! As a parent, you are your child’s “influencer.” Do not underestimate the significance of your witness to your children, nor the tools which are available to help you!

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: $16.99 / month.  

Susanna Parent is a freelance writer and Wisconsin native, who now begins her mornings brewing French press coffee in the home she shares with her husband and daughter in the Twin Cities. When the sun sets, you’ll find her with friends enjoying a glass of red wine, preferably outside underneath twinkly lights. When not exploring all that the Twin Cities has to offer, she is indulging her wanderlust spirit with her family and writing about it later.