Each person is created in the image of God and called to relationship. The Trinitarian image of God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–presents us with an image of family and teaches us how to live in relationship.
Family forms a foundation for who we are and how we learn to trust. We all start this process as sons or daughters, learning to model after our parents. The Trinitarian image of relational love gives us, as men and women, a sense of our own value and worth and encourages us to respond to God as well. This kind of intimacy fosters a sense of comfort and security. As we move into adulthood, our task becomes to create this family connection ourselves.
Healthy Parenting Helps Protect Against Porn
Pornography presents a false image of relationship. Looking back into the lives of adults who struggle with compulsive use of porn or sex, there are often factors that contributed to pornography taking root in the first place. One of these issues relates to how our parents approached structure and connection within the family. For example, these can be patterns of control as well as difficulty with supportive connection within the home.
According to Patrick Carnes and others, families that remain caught in the extremes tend to cause harm to their members. Many families experience times of chaotic stress or disconnection, but healthy families tend to adapt and change to the needs of their children as they develop.
Entrenched family patterns of rigid control or chaotic unpredictability foster a sense that one’s parents can’t be turned to or relied on. Patterns of disengaged emotional availability or enmeshed expectations are also extreme positions within families that can create fear and detachment.
As a result of all this, pornography appears to be a safe and appealing alternative to the world of real relationships. This lack of intimacy and the resulting isolation is often a hole that a pornography habit loves to fill.
This image of God’s relational love guides our understanding of at least part of the healing from pornography addiction. Because many who struggle with an addictive pattern in their lives often lacked an accurate example of intimacy in the home, they need to learn to experience real intimacy in relationship, and certainly have this modeled in a safe way.
This requires building trust, choosing healthy examples, and weathering the ups and downs of a relationship where there can be sadness, disappointment, as well as joy. As someone learns to stop relying on pornography, they can turn to supportive friends.
The task is at least two-fold. Stop the addictive behavior and heal the underlying wound. These wounds are often slow to heal, but they do. With pornography, pleasure replaces relationship and genuine intimacy. Part of healing is to eliminate the disconnection of pleasure seeking and tune into real people.
The Virtue of Parental Intimacy
As parents, there are many ways to foster an environment that adequately (though not perfectly) develops intimacy with children. We need to allow children to gradually develop their sense of worth and autonomy, while providing a sense of safety, structure and predictable presence along the way.
Remember, it is when parents get caught living in extremes that we do the most harm. Be adequately engaged and supportive, without placing burdensome expectations.
I heard a priest once encourage a group of fathers on retreat to spend 30 minutes a week with a different child on a rotating basis. That’s not a bad start to recognize the child’s value and establish reliable family connections.
Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture
In this ebook, we show parents how to have honest conversations about self-image, sexuality, sin, shame, as well as provide proven methods for training your children how to be media literate, and more.
Language: English and Spanish
Resource Type: Ebook
Cost: Free download or $2 per hardcopy.