Tag Archives: parenting

Leading a Child’s Heart Away From Porn: A 10-point Discussion Guide

25 Mar

I am utterly gutted over the pandemic of pornography in our society.  It can’t be overstated.  Porn is on Instagram. Porn is on Pinterest.  It’s also on Facebook (via shared “gifts” in the messenger app.) On WhatsApp, kids are texting each other gifs and links.  Web browsers are attached to most apps and video gaming equipment.

They have access to it everywhere, and it is coming to them whether they seek it or not.  We are at a point in time where we must deliberately avoid it rather than deliberately seek it out.

As a parent you cannot be too vigilant in protecting your kids.  We are mental about their sleeping on their backs, and wearing seatbelts and helmets.  We ensure they avoid stranger danger, processed food and soda, even sunburns.

Maybe we oughtta tack porn onto that list.

But that one’s hard.  To fully protect them, we’d have to micromanage every click and image that passes their eyes.  Not possible.  Screens are going nowhere. They will see porn, it is here to stay. 

It’s our responsibility to eliminate every possible source of it.

And that’s not enough.  We have to talk to the kids about what they are going to see without shaming them.  

What do we say besides, “Hey guys, don’t look at porn, it’s bad for you?”

After doing a ton of research, it’s clear that victory comes down to a common denominator:

It’s a heart issue. 

They’ll exchange their healthy hearts for fleshly, lurid temptations, or they will rightly turn away from worthless things.

Recently, it dawned on me that we might actually have to teach them the qualities of a healthy heart.  My middle-schoolers, bobbing around in their deep blue sea of emotions, probably have no idea what their heart **should** be feeling.  

We can lead children to recognize exactly what they should be feeling when they come across it.

Here are 10 points, or “heart ambitions” we explained to our middle-schoolers, both of whom have already been in contact with pornography. 

My heart hurts just typing that.




1.  The cornerstone of protection is prayer.

God will strengthen those who seek rightly-ordered hearts.

I pray for my children’s heart purity as often as I think of it, and I have taught them they must pray it for themselves.  Nothing long–just a one-sentence aspiration as often as they brush their teeth: “Lord, please strengthen me to stand up to the temptation of pornography.”

It doesn’t have to be a lengthy epistle for God to hear.  It’s a penny in the jar—and over time, this adds up to a substantial volume of prayer equity.

Prayer is the bedrock.  Along with that, there are ambitions that their hearts will (hopefully) internalize.  



2.  Heart Ambition: Sympathy

With every click, you are virtually voting “yes” to victimizing the individuals in these images/videos.  The people shown in these media are victims, *even if they seemingly chose to participate.*

If you had a conversation with a performer, you would find that they abhor their role, that they feel trapped there.  Viewing these images/gifs/videos is parallel to giving a standing ovation to their victimization.

Don’t vote yes to victimizing.  Your heart should feel tremendous sympathy for their situation as victims.



3.  Heart Ambition: Righteous Indignation

When you click that link, you contribute to the human-trafficking industry as a whole.  Generally, porn use is a risk to yourself; however, in this respect you are effectively putting others at risk. 

The more clicks a site receives, the more money they make.  What do they do with that money?  Get rich on exploiting and selling women and girls.  (side note–How can this be happening in a feminist culture?)  

Porn is kerosene on society’s forest fire of sexual assault, abuse and slavery.  Human trafficking is tremendously lucrative because its clientele have no brakes on their disoriented urges.  Lust-fuelled porn users compulsively click to engage and ultimately act on human prey.

Porn is a propellant for modern slave trade.  Your heart should feel outraged that this is the fuel that enslaves thousands.


4. Heart Ambition: Tenderheartedness

After continual use of explicit material, you will see the actors as nothing more than a collection of body parts.  If they are just a collection of body parts, they are not human to you. 

Think about the qualities that make someone human.  These are people with hopes and dreams.  They have souls.  They crave love. 

History has shown that the worst human atrocities happen when one party sees the other party as not human.  Taking it a step further, over time, your own compassion for humanity in general will deplete. I want your heart to remain soft toward them.

Porn desensitizes the user and dehumanizes the actors.  Your heart should feel tender compassion toward all human kind.



5.  Heart Ambition: Grateful Appreciation

It feels awful now.  But, actually it is a grace to get caught.  We care very much about defending you from harmful, addictive behaviors.  There really is no such thing as getting away with anything, anyway.  God sees it all.  Getting caught means we can lovingly show you how to get back on the right track before anything gets out of hand. 

Our home is a soft place to practice walking among the hazards of the world.  We create boundaries for you now, but in few short years, our boundaries will be removed.  At that point, you’re expected uphold your own boundaries.  Our margins are for your good, the joy of others, and God’s glory.

You should feel thankful to be cushioned with loving boundaries meant to protect you from addiction.  These margins also pad your world with truth, beauty and goodness.


6.  Heart Ambition: Self-assurance

When looking at sexual material, the feelings of curiosity and pleasure mean that you are wired properly!  Don’t be overwhelmed or overthink your sexual desires.  They are normal.  Those feelings are meant to be freely expressed with your future spouse. 

Even though they are quite strong, don’t be afraid of them, they are healthy and have a purpose.  The strength of all those sexual feelings enable you to form the strongest possible bonds.

You should feel assured in your feelings of sexual desire.  This means you are perfectly equipped to be bonded in marriage for life!



7.  Heart Ambition: Noble Excellence

Excellence in your sexuality is central to your enjoyment of adulthood. So many people experience unrelenting torment and agony when it’s been misused, or worse…used as a weapon. 

Sex is supremely beautiful and sacred. 

The only safe way to handle its sanctity is within the promises of marriage.  Only after making those covenant promises should you share the most holy portion of yourself.  It displays nobility to revere sexuality as consecrated and sacred.

You get to feel valorous and heroic by defending the holiness of your (and your future spouse’s) sexuality.



8.  Heart Ambition: Empowerment

The more you stand against the temptation of pornography, the stronger you will stand in the face of all the other temptations of life.  Childhood is the ideal arena to perfect the life-skill of denying your wayward temptations.  We need to be good at it before beginning adulthood, where all the temptations will burgeon exponentially. 

Saying no is spiritual bodybuilding, it cultivates spiritual muscle memory.   This is another proverbial penny jar…bit by bit you build proficiency.  It gets easier to see the lure coming, and you’ll be sturdy enough to avoid it without a lot of fuss.

You should feel empowered: your cumulative “no’s” will breed a stronger mind and heart.


9.  Heart Ambition: Personal Triumph

Be willing to gouge out an eye if it causes you to fail.  This means cut off any source of addiction.  This metaphor implies pain, and truthfully, it will be an uncomfortable reality at first.  An unpleasant part of parenting is that we have to do the gouging and the cutting off…out of love and concern for your well-being!

Think through what might need to be gouged out.  This might mean cutting out the smart phone and using a dumb phone…definitely an ouch.  Or cutting off the “right hand” of Instagram/Pinterest/Social Media.  Whatever the source, discard it.  Take action, now. 

Don’t just cross your fingers hoping not to do it again!  Eliminate or make it VERY DIFFICULT for yourself to get access to that thing. There is no hope for long-term victory without eliminating the source.

Look to feel a sense of personal accomplishment in crafting a strategy for long-term success.



10.  Heart Ambition: Freedom

I know the real you.  The real you loves to laugh, be outside, enjoy friendship, conversations, games and sports.  You love drawing and animals, the Rat Pack, and football.  That is the real you. 

When you are engaging in porn, it is like pouring vinegar on soda—the images, feelings, urges, the guilt…it just sizzles away at the real you.  The addictive nature of porn will change your affections. 

Rather than having increasingly corrupted interests overtake what you really love, focus on your first loves.  The real you wants to be fully known, and find pure joy in life’s truest pleasures.

Enjoy feeling absolute freedom in having nothing to hide from anyone.  Experience true liberty in pursuing what makes you authentically happy.


There is never an auto-pilot.

None of us will ever get away from the assault of pornography.  It is not a once-and-done issue.  The resolve to turn away must be deliberate and continual.  But, be encouraged!  We don’t wake up having to face an entire lifetime of temptation every morning.  You only need to be ready for today’s temptation.  Some days there will be more, other days, less.

As I have said before, the power of prayer can NOT be underestimated in this area of your life.  It is a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons.  While 2 one-sentence aspirations a day may seem flippant or ritual, they matter.  That prayer is said from a place of strength and clear-mindedness.  It confirms a heart of surrender to God.

He will take that small mustard seed and it will uproot the mulberry bush.

Be encouraged, my friends.  Sleep well knowing you’re doing everything in your power to set the conditions for your children’s mental, physical and spiritual health.

Talk about a prime pursuit!




Good Pictures Bad Pictures
The Story of Me Series

Don’t Mom Alone Podcast: Parenting in the Digital Age with Ashley Januszewski (Ep 207).

Heidi St. John’s The Busy Mom Podcast #728, interview with Jasmine Grace: Tracked. Recovered. Redeemed.  #728

Heidi St. John’s The Busy Mom Podcast #689 interview with Kirk Cameron: Parenting in the Internet Age.

Psalm 101: 1-7—meditation passage

Post Script.  

If you are using pornography, you can’t scoff at the audacity of the former African slave trade in America.  The parallels are too numerous to count.  If sex trafficking is modern slavery, then pornography is sugarcane*.  You’re using it even though its production costs people their humanity.  Producers lust for more money, users thirst for another hit, and those portrayed are for sale.

You are buying. The currency: clicks.

*In the plantation economy, sugarcane was a primary cash crop.  Plantation owners used forced slave labor to get rich off of peoples’ addiction to its byproducts: refined sugar and rum.

My Favorite Things for this Family of 7

7 Dec

I thought long and hard whether or not to write about our 2017 family motto:

This is a family, and family means that no one gets to do what they want to do.  

It would be therapeutic for me to unpack all that statement has meant.  But it would be a downer.  Instead, I am going to try to come from a positive place, and share a few of our best go-to items of the year.  These are not #ads.  I have no idea if I am even legally allowed to publish any of this…nevertheless these are the gift ideas I feel like sharing.  


Georgia Approved

Georgia will kick off the list with Sky Organics Shea butter.  This poor baby suffers from significant eczema all over her body…such a bummer that she did not inherit her dad’s Asian skin, which feels identical to the surface of a dolphin.**  Since she isn’t endowed with the Flipper-skin that he has, I have to use this cream which really does help her flare-ups.  It’s all-natural and isn’t greasy the like many of the physician prescribed ointments.  I have recently discovered that it’s hand cream, under eye cream, and also happens to make great furniture polish.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume it’s edible too, so stay tuned for a recipe entitled “Georgia’s Shea Butter Veggie Dip.”






just a box of reminders of days long past

Next, Olivia presents Kinetic Sand.  Coming from Hawaii, I had a very hard time making the transition to purchasing sand… but I had to face the facts.  Our endless summer days are over now, and this tactile messy-play little lady can sit with this stuff for hours.  To be sure, four out of my five kids play with this really well.  Yes it gets everywhere, but it is kinda like playdoh in that it adheres to itself, you can dab clumps of it together so most of it gets back in the box.  I vacuum every day anyway.  I recommend the natural colored sand, as the dyed sand does leave color residue on things.  I purchased a shallow container and a few sand tools to keep her occupied.  





Color with your children

Okay.  I hope what I am about to say is not offensive to anyone reading.  A huge trend has been developing in the US over the past years: adult coloring.  I have seen invitations for wine and coloring, and most recently my local library offered adult coloring time in the evenings. 

So, *uh* there was a need to establish a gathering place for adults wanting to color?  Oh my word, I go to Target, and just stare at the adult coloring book collection completely incredulous.  What adult has the ability to enjoy themselves by coloring? Is it just me?  If you are an adult who has time to color, then I am living my life all wrong.  And you could make money teaching classes on time management skills.  Oh.  Then you would not have time to color.

Was that a digression? 

Anyway, an adult coloring with a child is a super way to chill out with them, and so Adair is going to represent our family for the best colored pencils ever (Prismacolor).  They are pricier, but Amazon offers great deals on them from time to time.  They color so smoothly and most importantly, the “leads” do not shatter inside of the pencil.  When you sharpen these pencils, you get perfection every time.  Crayolas are dead to me.



be thankful if your 12 year old is easy to please!

Best gift of the year for Margaret was a last-minute decision on my part, which turned out to be a huge hit: a pair of white chucks and a package of colored sharpies.  Yes, I let her write on her shoes.  That’s me trying to let go in some areas.  Also it’s a silent tactic/attempt to divert from all the incessant teenage angst pre-tattoos on her hands/wrists/forearms.  She’s gone crazy tatting up the shoes, having her friends sign them, and she wears them constantly.







he still throws up a shaka in every picture.

Everyday, Liam rocks my favorite thing for him this year, which are his classic Adidas Sambas.  These shoes have been a god-send to me as a mom of five living a house with no closets.  Basically, I think I am going to get away with only having to buy him one pair of shoes (besides his robo-oafs for school.  Google “boys school shoes England“.  Ugh.  Yes, they all wear these).  One single pair of sambas take him to every event of his life from the skate park, to PE, to cross-country club, and straight into the pew at church.  Don’t need multiple pairs of shoes for a simple guy, and these puppies hold up.  Worth the money.






I don’t know whether I get compliments on these, or if it’s that I am repeatedly complimenting myself when I wear them.



Nickel and Suede Leather Earrings.  I am completely obsessed with these.  GAGA.  I was hesitant to buy for years because of the cost, but when she came out with camo, I could not hold back any longer.  These featherweight earrings are genius, so stylish, and makes wearing this size jewelry actually practical.  They are so worth the money and make me feel amazing.  Plus it’s a nice way to support small business–I won’t tell her whole story but let’s just say Kilee is my ICON for style and entrepreneurship while mothering five kiddos.  It’s been so fun watching her progress over the past 5 years or so!  Beware of knock-offs.  This product is perfection.  She also told me to buy these chokers,  so I did.  I just wish I had managed to meet her in person when we were living in the KC area.  






This is a rolling metal box with a stick shift and a steering wheel

If I am being honest, my husband’s favorite thing of 2017 is hands-down the 1987 Land Rover (Defender) 90 that he purchased three seconds after we got off the airplane in the UK.  One of these puppies can not be easily acquired in the USA and so I am going to have to link to you the runner-up: Lululemon ABC Pants.  

Hubs wouldn’t model the ABCs for my momblog… but I already had a picture

Eric has been rocking what I call “ball pants” for years… what he calls a “gusseted crotch.”  (Prana and Outdoor Research also happen to make awesome products with the family jewels in mind. )The ABC pants go from trail to city to any nighttime social event without missing a beat.  He has even used them as running pants.  He owns several pairs–they are an investment but he wears them constantly. 

While we are on the subject of Lulu, let me mention their pants in the British sense of the word: the Namastay Put undies.   Yes these are also pricey– but they hold their shape and do the job of killing the VPL.  I can barely walk past a Lulu without grabbing yet another pair.  Get these, now. 







Beauty faves I love putting on every day:  When it comes to living primal/paleo, beauty products are truly where I go off the rails.  I just love finding stuff that works amazingly.  I’m showing my true colors here, because if a product makes me *feel* more beautiful, I will not be able to stop spraying it, applying it, dabbing it or rubbing it in.  I will call it prioritizing looks over my health. 

In fact, you should know that my favorite song of 2015 happened to be Amy Schumer’s Girl You Don’t Need Makeup.  It’s disturbing how much I love that song.  

L’oreal Infallible Pro-Last Lip


LIPS:  L’oreal Infallible Pro-Last Lip This is my ten-dollar answer to the LipSense products that were everywhere in the US before I left.  I put this on in the morning, drink coffee, go to the gym, eat a burger, make out with my husband, wash my face, brush my teeth, and it’s still on the NEXT morning.  I am pretty sure it’s nail polish.  But this stuff is awesome.  My first-love product in this same category is Chanel Rouge Double Ultra Wear.  I have been wearing the Chanel since about 2008 but it’s starting to get hard to justify spending the money, so I converted to L’oreal.

LASHES:  L’oreal has another big winner for me with their new Lash Paradise mascara.  Now, a loved one once told me that my eyes look like venus fly-traps…so I may not be the right candidate to push mascara products.  However, this is another drugstore conversion for me.  I am a former Lancome cils booster+definicils user, and I no longer need those products.  Thanks, L’oreal.  My venus traps can live on. 

EYEBAGS:  Garnier Clearly Brighter Anti-Dark Circle Eye roller.  This is the concealer I have been wanting since I was 19 but I had to wait until I was 37 for it to be invented.  Two words: not cakey.  Hides reality with amazing precision.  Find it in the skin care section, not the cosmetics.

HAIR: Style Sexy Hair H2NO dry shampoo.  I use it every day, and on my pre-teen whose hair looks, well, like it needs to be washed.  No white residue and you really can go a third day without washing if you need to.  Smells great, and actually makes your hair feel clean.  It is at a price point slightly lower than salon professional brands, but slightly higher than what you would expect to pay.  The extra cost is worth it, I have tried all the dry shampoos and this is the best I’ve used.


That’s all folks.  Top seven gift ideas for the family, plus some no-fail cosmetic suggestions that have made me feel human all over again every morning.   Thanks for stopping by!



**I stole that joke from Ali Wong.






The 3-Line Script that Overcomes Every “BUT MOM!”

13 Nov

I came into parenting fully thinking that I don’t owe a child any explanations when it comes to their obedience.  They better execute mission without asking questions.  Actually, I want to see them pop into the position of attention, sound off with a “Yes Ma’am,” and move out smartly to take care of business.

Errr–that’s not really how it usually plays out.  Let me write a skit to illustrate.  The child in the scene will be played by my 7-year-old daughter, Adair.

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair: (shrill.  screeching.) MOM!!! I don’t want to!  I am watching this show, and it is not over!!!  (Throws remote onto couch pillows, kicks blanket off her legs.)
Me(Huge sigh, blood pressure rises. Voice intensifies.) Don’t talk back to me I don’t care I told you to turn it off so turn it off now before I lose it.
Adair: (sulks. clicks the TV off, makes some weird growling sound, clenches teeth and moans)
Me: Stop whining, now you’re not watching TV the rest of the day!!  (Instantly forget that I said that.)

My little theater of life can produce this embarrassing scene multiple times a day…day after day.  PER KID.  We needed an intervention.  They needed to stop their whining habit; and actually, I needed to be a lot more flexible with my yeses.  I am quick to pop-off a “no” without thinking.  And when they whine, I just trump them with the parent’s wildcard of “because I said so.”  So then I win.  But no one is happy.

Enter the amazing three-sentence “script” for child-to-parent negotiation that has changed everything.  This momhack came from my amazing should-have-a-blog friend Wendy.  She got it from Growing Kids God’s Way…But before giving it public validation, I had to run it through the lab of life a few times.  It’s working. 

When a child would like to appeal for a change of my mind, they may peacefully articulate three sentences:

1. Speak words of total compliance.
This is the first thing every parent wants to hear.

2. Repeat the specifics of the request
Ensure the child heard you/understands what you asked them.

3. Request permission for reconsideration, once.
They may respectfully present to you information for your reconsideration.


This formula dispels any hysteria instantly: my heart softens when I hear sentence 1 and sentence 2; sentence 3 ensures the child feels heard, validated.  I get a better picture of the situation, and another go at whether my “no” was too rash.  This is a deposit in the trust bank on both our parts.  After that, my answer is final. 

Read this brilliance in action:

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Yes ma’am.  I’ll turn off the TV.  But, I was wondering if I may finish the rest of this show first?
Me: Yes, okay.  You may finish watching the show. -OR- Well, I am sorry but you must turn it off straight away.


Obedient words.
Acknowledgment of instructions.
Politely request reconsideration


That’s it.  They don’t get to be on step 3 more than one time.  

The key here is that the child must be willing to obey to make an appeal.  For my older ones’ more complicated issues, they might say, “I’m willing to obey, but may I add information you may not have?”  Then they must wait for a yes or no.  If we say yes, they can only add NEW information that may help the parent who gave the instruction.

It can be janky.  At first it feels canned.  I’ll say, “If you are asking me to reconsider, what are the only three sentences you can speak back to me?”  And then they go through the sentences.  Some kids get it down faster than others…but life skills take practice, and repetition is a way to make it a second-nature habit.  

Over time, it’s become more of an organic process–and we can take care of business around here as peacefully as possible.  If this helps even one reader, it is worth posting.  

thanks for reading.

I’ll close with a post-script written by my friend Jewel–mother to 6–just this week:

Perhaps the most difficult Empowered to Connect tool for me to embrace early on was the **art of compromise** with my children. Coming to the understanding that my authority as a parent is NOT undermined if I allow my children to ask for a compromise when they feel they need one. Instead I have learned that encouraging my children to ask for a compromise allows them to respectfully negotiate their needs. What an incredible life skill to have.  


Read more:

Getting Enough Me-Time (picture courtesy lineloff.com)

Thriving in Motherhood and other demanding seasons of life

On Waiting

Why I No longer pray for Patience in Parenting

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