Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PARENTING ; Parents Can't Fix Teen Porn Habit

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PARENTING ; Parents Can't Fix Teen Porn Habit

Article excerpt

One of the problems I occasionally struggle with is that of giving unsatisfactory answers to people's questions. By that, I mean answers I know are unsatisfactory in the sense that they do not promise solutions, but are nonetheless the best I can do. A recent example: The parents of a 15-year-old boy ask me what to do about his pornography addiction. When they discovered that he was using his electronic devices to access porn, they put safeguards on them. He managed to get around the safeguards. So they took the devices away. To make a long story short, they have done all the right things; nonetheless, he continues to figure out ways of getting into porn. He has admitted he has an addiction and told his parents that part of him wants to stop but the other part doesn't. Other than this thorn, he's a good kid - responsible, hard working, and so on - and has a good relationship with his folks.

This story illustrates the fact that parenting does not produce the person. The person is "produced" by his own free will, the choices he makes. A child can be raised well, by good people and turn out badly. Contrarily, a child can be raised badly and turn out well. Call this the Paradoxical Parenting Principle. Parenting and the child/person are not a cause/effect relationship. Parenting is an influence and one's job, certainly, is to maximize the positive aspects of the influence, but even the most positive parenting does not guarantee a positive outcome.

I frequently refer to Mick Jagger's theorem: You can't always get what you want. Children need to learn this reality principle, and the earlier, the better. People who grow up not having learned it are in for a lot of unhappiness. …

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