This post you are about to read is a spiritual post and also links to one of the mental health therapy clinic in Utah.
Helping Children Exposed To The World
I went on a 4-day cruise with my family.
I was not sure if I would recommend it or not. Here’s the story.
I have seven wonderful children, and I am grateful for each one, but when we get in a car, World War III breaks out. Frankly, I just want to pull my hair out.
Oh well nothing new here, just press forward. We hit 2 hours out of town, and it begins
“… dad, I have to go potty.”
“… dad, how long have we been driving?”
“… we have been driving a long time already.”
Oh no, I am thinking to myself, the trip has just begun.
There’s a rule in our family, “NEVER ASK HOW LONG BEFORE WE GET THERE?”
Although this rule is in place for my sanity, my children are brilliant and ask questions like, “Will it take 5 hours or more?” When do you think we will arrive at the hotel?”
The questions begin, and we aren’t even two hours away from home.
Next, my youngest daughter saying, “Daddy, I need to go potty but I can hold it for a little bit longer.”
I knew I had to pull over. After a quick potty break we are off again and then the next flood of requests, “I’m hungry. When are we going to eat? Mom, do you have some food I can eat.” My beautiful wife whips out the food like the finest chef and begins to make the most exquisite ham and pepperoni sandwiches you could get.
We are all happily filled and then a moment of bliss as they start to fall asleep, one at a time. I slowly watch them drop off, like flies hitting a bug zapper.
The moment arrives, everyone starts waking up again, and the questions start all over … bathroom, food, can I …
I pull into the gas station to fuel up, everyone piles out of the vehicle and I watch reactions of people as they watch child after child after child get out. Then the questions start coming …
“Are these all your children?”
I love this question because I’m proud to say, “Yes!”
We are only an hour away from our night’s resting place … phew!
We arrive at the motel, or at least it was supposed to be. This place is filthy, there is no water pressure, and the pool is more like a large bathtub. It’s time to pick up my parents from the airport to join us for this wonderful excursion.
The trip to the airport (LAX) is an adventure in itself, but that is for another post 🙂
We pick up my parents and head back to the motel.
Gross, disgusting and afraid to sleep … Oh well, we make the best of it.
It’s Sunday morning, and everyone is bustling and ready to board the largest water vessel we have ever seen … wow!
After the amazingly fast, safe and precise check-in process, the moment has come. We traversed our way through several different security points and walked the gangway to the ship. The crew greets us with a huge smile and a “Welcome Aboard.” We go to our rooms only to be told they will not be ready for another hour and to get some food on the Lido deck.
Okay, the food I can handle. Everyone that has ever gone on a cruise always talks about the food. Food, food and more food.
As we are walking to the Lido deck, we can’t believe this is a boat. It does not feel like it. There is a bar in the center of the main floor, with two massive staircases that serpentine up, there are paintings and much more. I swear I just stepped into the Grand America … this place is beautiful.
We get to the Lido deck and wham; we are hit by a worldly view like nothing I have ever experienced.
The moment we walked on the massive cruise ship, we were bombarded by the world.
… naked sculptures
… busty women with hardly any clothing on
… men that also wore very little
… foul language
I immediately thought, “Oh Great, we shouldn’t have come on this cruise. Did we make a grave mistake? I’m going to have to sit down with each of my children and process everything they are seeing and make sure their triggers are not beyond something they can handle.”
We walk past the pool, past the hot tub to the food. We grab our food and begin to eat.
My son says, “Dad, did you see those statues? That was gross!”
My daughter also makes her comments, “I can’t believe they have that here … yuk!”
I start talking to them about how the world sees the naked body as a beautiful piece of art. We believe it is much more than art and that is why we don’t show it off like other people.
I was grateful for this opportunity to express how valuable and priceless our bodies are and how we should take care of them and protect them.
After eating, we went to our rooms and went to bed.
The next day we awoke around 6 am … not by choice.
Our youngest children 2 and three years old decided it was time to wake up and get going and unfortunately the doors could be opened by our youngest so we had to get up or he would take off.
Day 2 – Lined Up For Drinks
The night before we had seen a lot and I thought that was all but today, everyone was in a swimsuit or at least that is what they are calling threads this day and age. I couldn’t believe it. There was even less clothing, and now the liquor was flowing.
8 am, and people are lined up at the bar and drinking.
My son instantly says, “Dad, can I get one of those drinks?”
Amazed at how delicious all of the drinks looked, I told him that they had alcohol in them.
“They do?, ” he responded. “They look so good.”
I had another opportunity to bear testimony about even though something looks good, that does not mean it is.
Our Day at Sea
Today was our day at sea, and I got seasick … blah!
I will spare all of these details. I finally started feeling better after my beautiful wife said, “Get in the hot tub.”
I hate hot tubs, and when I’m sick, I hate hot tubs, but I did it anyway, and within 5 minutes I started feeling better. I wished I would have done this sooner. I wished I would have listened to my wife earlier.
I relate this to how Heavenly Father or that greater Power wants to help us all the time, but we just have to be willing to listen and obey.
We had a fine dining experience that night. Everyone was dressed in suits (not bathing suits) and looked amazing. I tried several different unique dishes … some I would never order usually. The meal was wonderful, but I was beaten from being sea-sick.
Here are a couple of fun videos of my family trying some new things. Before you watch this, realize that children are just flat out honest. 🙂
I went to the room and crashed.
When I say, crashed, I mean I crashed. I fell asleep with my suit on and did not budge until morning.
Just Go For It!
The next day was our day at Catalina Island, absolutely beautiful.
I challenged my boys to just run into the water. Don’t think about it. Don’t wade in it, just go for it.
They thought I was crazy, which I probably am a little. I took off running and ran right into the ocean. It was refreshingly cold, but I did it, and my boys and one daughter did it too. We then picked up some snorkeling gear and went snorkeling, what a fabulous time.
We got back on the boat, and as we were getting ready for dinner my son and daughter started talking about the new friends they made, but they did not like that they kept cursing. My son is ten years old and said, “I have heard a lot of swearing from … to … “
My daughter agreed and said, “I hate it. I don’t like hanging around them for very long, but there are some of them that are trying not to swear around me.”
They both continued about how they have been telling the kids that they were LDS (but the other children did not know what that was). Since getting home, my daughter has continued with one of her friends and has had the opportunity to share a little bit of her testimony.
There are a lot of people out there struggling with many different addictions, and I have realized the importance of allowing my children to be exposed to the world in a controlled environment so that I can talk with them about it. If I don’t take the time to do this, I am allowing Hollywood and friends to teach them.
I don’t recommend introducing your children to things just for the sake of exposing them to it, but it is important to have open communication. Let your kids know they can talk to you about anything they want and you will not get upset, or mad. You will love and care for them.
Now we have been home for about four days, and the conversations are continuing. Last Night I had an interview with my son and asked him to talk about his experience on the cruise. He talked about how there were a lot of girls that did not wear a lot of clothing.
I asked him, “Did he want to look at them?”
After a few seconds, he said, “YES”
I told him that is normal and natural and that I too also saw a lot of attractive women on the boat. They were lovely and had beautiful bodies. I continued, “Is it wrong to look at them?”
He said, “Yes.”
I replied, “Actually it’s not.
It is okay to look because they were all around but it is not good to stare or to allow our imaginations to run wild and think about kissing them or anything like that. Heavenly Father made women beautiful and attractive to men and boys; it is healthy and natural; however, it is important not to gawk and stare and let your mind wander.”
It was an excellent opportunity to talk with him. A few minutes later, my daughter walked in, and we started talking to her, and she talked about her experience and then she talked about how she has spoken with a friend she made on the boat and that she has been sharing the gospel with her.
Consequently, We had an enjoyable experience and one that I hope to do again.
Don’t stress about your children, be open and willing to talk to them and listen to what they have to say. I thought this experience was going to warp their brains because of being exposed to the world in such a drastic way, but in all reality, it was a great opportunity to discuss and to share the importance of serving to help people discover true happiness.
Most of all, your children and grandchildren deserve to have you present, focused and able to talk to them about any of the questions or concerns. Pornography and the world distort our perceptions in many different facets. We must be vigilant at following the Savior and keeping our lives unspotted. If you or a loved one is struggling with pornography addiction or any addiction, I strongly recommend YES Clinics, they specialize in pornography addiction treatment.
How to Handle the Topic of Pornography with Your Spouse and Children
The mere mention of the word pornography sends shivers down backs, makes grown men and women cry and children shut down. Pornography should be discussed around the table because if you don’t, that’s when the dangers of pornography rear their ugliness.
I have been helping spouses and individuals struggling with pornography since 2006, not as a therapist but as a mentor. I have been blessed to see families reunite, communication and connection occur, despite the damage that porn inflicted.
You may be someone who’s been affected by porn and may be feeling like it’s hopeless. Maybe you have a child that has confided in you about viewing porn.
How do you react?
Do you yell, scream, cry or get angry? Do you One critical component of helping someone who’s struggling with anything is to remain calm and stoic. The moment you overreact, they will shut down and not want to talk with you. I have seven children, and each child has had their struggle, but no matter what the struggle is, I handle it the same way.
Here’s how my wife and I handle it after we have confronted them or they have confided in us, specifically regarding porn:
Parents: “How long has this struggle been going on?”
Child: “A while.”
Parents: “How long is a while, one day, a week, several weeks, months or years?”
Child: “I don’t know.”
Parents: “Give me your best guess.”
Child: “Probably about 3 to 4 months.”
Something that’s important to note, I sit down with each of my children once every three months to see how they are doing and I ask the hard questions.
- What images have you seen that have been hard to get out of your head?
- How many of them were pornographic or arousing (verbiage changes with age)?
With this quarterly sit down, I can stay connected with my children and address problems as they come up.
Parents: Thank you so much for talking with me about this, it must have been hard holding all of this in for so long. How did it make you feel when you saw those images?
Child: Icky, dirty, gross
Parents: Be honest with us, did you like looking at it?
Child sheepishly answers: Yes.
Parents: Yes, the naked body and sex are extremely attractive and beautiful. It’s healthy and natural to want to look at it. Heavenly Father designed it that way; he wants you to marry someone that you can share this most cherished part of you. The only problem is that a lot of society and the adversary has distorted something so wonderful and beautiful to something that’s to be shared. Sexuality and viewing the naked body is an activity with your spouse. What do you think you should do next time something like this pops up?
Child: “Unplug the computer, turn off my phone, and go outside.”
Parents: Yes, those are all excellent ideas. Will you do that next time? I know it will be hard, but I know you can do hard things. You are amazing. I love you, and you realize you can talk to us about anything. We are here for you.
Child: Yes, I’ll try. Thanks, mom and dad I love you.
The Reality of the Porn Struggle
I wished I could say I would only have to talk with my sons and daughters once about this but it’s not but each time my wife and I express love, confidence, and gratitude for them coming to us.
I have a daughter that’s over 20 and still comes and talks to me about things going on in her life. Love and connection are critical for healing and open communication. You can change lives by just expressing your love in an unbiased way.
No matter what the struggle is, approach it the same way by being a B.U.I.L.D.E.R.:
- Be approachable and build a relationship of trust. Be there for them.
- Understand it’s normal to be drawn to sexuality.
- Identify their needs. Communicate and help them find their solutions.
- Love your child/spouse unconditionally. Love them despite their struggle no matter what.
- Demonstrate acceptance and empathy. I love you; I’m here for you. It really must be hard what you’re going through, but I know you can handle this. You’re strong and capable.
- Expect questions and challenges. Healing is a process; it does not happen overnight so expect that as you’re both healing, there’s going to be questions and problems that come up. Heal together and roll with the resistance, it takes time.
- Reinforce the relationship. Create a safe non-judgemental environment and let your spouse and children know you love and care for them and that they can always talk to you.
Be a BUILDER
Builders lead with love, respond calmly, speak honestly and thank them for talking to you. It’s not always easy being a Builder but if you want to heal and your family to heal this is what will help.
Regarding pornography addiction, sometimes the struggle has gotten extremely out of control, and they may need therapy or even Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Here’s a resource for helping teens struggling with pornography as well as treatment for men, and women. Utah Family Therapy’s approach is one that empowers you instead of shaming you, they remove the shame surrounding pornography and focus on love and compassion which is healing.
Along with therapy, I can also help. As a mentor, I can help you gain more confidence so you can do the things you need to do. The more confidence you get your self-esteem goes up, which allows you to live a more empowered life, helping you be in control instead of always reacting.
You’re amazing. I would love to help you and your family raise the bar together and rise to newer heights. Don’t be afraid to talk with someone about your struggle with porn. I will not judge you. I will support, encourage and motivate you to upgrade your life.
You’re amazing, believe it!