Advice about my teenage son
By maddy
8/26/2013 8:40:39 AM
So I figured I might as well harm in bouncing thoughts off y'all, right?

Here is the issue: I caught my teenager sexting his girlfriend. I have refused to get him a phone of his own because of other trust issues and so if I leave my phone in my purse for the night apparently he has been stealing it and texting her and then deleting the texts.

The young lady in question is not a member, but a long time family friend. My husband and I did not like them being girlfriend/boyfriend but we've made it clear that while we don't support him doing that, we try and stay calm, not lecture (too much) and try to encourage him to make good choices.

Other background is he has had some problems with pornography in the past. I've always spoken pretty honestly and frankly to him and we check in with him on how he is doing. He struggles with a lot of things right now. He doesn't have a very strong testimony and Heavenly Father only knows that he doesn't have the best home life or family situation... I am tempted to descend into a self-depreciating, victim-thinking, ball of self pity on that topic, but I think I'll just stop there and bite my tongue.

Anyway, I am talking to my Bishop and therapist for advice too because I want to make sure I am handling this as best I can, but I wanted to hear what people here might have to say.

If it were your kid, how would you handle it?


From Tony    
"It stinks, Maddy, that you must struggle with these challenges. Of course, as you wonderfully pointed out in an earlier post, take this challenge away, and you could have a worse one... I loved your description of the therapist's world in which all your kids were dead, but he returned them to you.

Tony Litster has a parents' program, a spouse's program, an addict's program, and a program for helping people fall in love with their spouse again. His flagship program is really one for improving life for NON addicts—for everyone. I have only really listened to a small portion of what he offers for free (it's all free), but I'm starting to listen to more. He has so much!!

And I'm not really in the throws of my addiction, like I was 10 years ago, so I don't know how it all would have affected me then, or 20 years ago when I was a teenager just getting into pornography. Right now, I think it's amazing stuff, as you can tell.

I've heard him say in his Reality of Relapse CD that the parent (spouse) should do the following when the teenager (husband) relapses:

1) Encourage the addict to talk to someone who will understand him and not shame him. Ideally, this person should be able to help him identify why he relapsed and where his life was out of balance. Parents often shame their children (making them feel bad for the action... THEY aren't bad, they are children of God with infinite worth, they just made a choice that is not helpful, it's destructive). Shame makes the problem worse and just teaches the teenager to hide the problem and lie about it.

2) Place a filter on all internet access in the home, one with an accountability partner (you).

3) Encourage the addict to learn from the relapse: what was the trigger? What are the fantasies that led up to the relapse? What challenge is the addict facing in his life currently? What part of his life, body, mind, and spirit is out of balance?

4) Encourage and help the addict to get systems in place to restore balance to his body, mind, and spirit, and to help him reduces stress.

5) Encourage him to participate in a long-term recovery program, such as the Church's 12-step program and recovery meetings, or Tony Litster's cure the craving telephone call-in program, where he will learn, over time, new habits to keep his life in balance and to deal with opposition and stress as it arises.

Tony has also said that kids reflect their parents, and one of the best things we can do for our children is to get our own lives in balance by taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirits, and by reducing our own stress levels. We should be working on ourselves, which I know you are.

Those were the first thoughts that came to me after reading your post. I hope they help. I had to write them on my phone twice. I always participate from my phone, and writing from my phone can be difficult. It stinks I had to write it twice, but its not as bad as the challenge you face.

About the sexting, I would recommend you just make sure he understands that what goes out to the world stays there and can never be erased or forgotten. It ruins lives. Then, you let him make mistakes and love him anyway, the way the father loves the prodigal."
posted at 10:12:42 on August 26, 2013 by beclean
"BECLEAN, can you recommend a good filter."
posted at 13:46:35 on August 26, 2013 by stayingclean
If this were my kid    
"This has been 2 of my darling children. Maddy, I am so sorry to hear that you are having to go through this too.

I wish I had answers for you. We did everything the best we could. Of course there was lots of fasting and prayer. We sought out Therapists, Experts, Bishops, you name it. Kick it and Aussie would be pleased to know that we even cast out evil spirits. Believe me that is very real. We literally drained our bank accounts trying. There was no stone left unturned. I held my ground and my stubborn children did not respond. I do know that you cannot get anyone to change their behavior unless they want to, and so far two of our children have done little to seek out change (that we know of). I often feel like they are standing on the train tracks with a speeding train bearing down on them. They are looking at me for advice, and I am saying, "get off the tracks". And they are saying, " that is too hard". I am saying "just pray, and then move your feet, it's not that haaaarrrrdddd". Still they are saying " I don't like that method of not getting hit by a train", "what else do you have for us?". And it has been Groundhog's day ever since. Yet, here I stand grateful for them and love them dearly. Life is short and I have witnessed a few times where bad feelings between parents, spouses, or family members left people devastated when someone passed away unexpectedly. Devestated for years and years. That is not something I'm not wanting to play with. Most of my conversations with my addicted children are small talk, expressions of love, and finding something nice to say about what they are doing in their lives. There is always something sincere and nice to say.

The place where I've landed with this is to let go of control, set my boundaries, and seek comfort, light, & joy in my life. I feel like I have spent a lifetime trying to help my addicted loved ones, and the harder I worked on them, the more I fell apart, and the less they responded. In fact for me, they seemed to get worse.

I share love ( with an occasional slip of saying something they do not want to hear) and then I get on with my own surrender to a loving God who will never fail me.

Be prayerful in all you do. I know that you know this, but It is good to be reminded sometimes.

My heart is aching for you as I type this post because for me this has been more painful to my heart and soul than anything that happened in my marriage. I am tempted to take the shameful arrows that the adversary shoots my way, but I know better.

Now where did I leave my faith? Oh that's right, on my knees again and again. I hate seeing them in pain. I want more for them than they do for themselves. But, this is not mine to own, so I allow the Savior to do something I could never do for them, and that is take it all upon himself.

I would look at Tony L's stuff as Be Clean suggested. I mean why not? Maybe something will work out for you. You will have to just work your options, as no effort is wasted.

With the above stated, I want you to know that I still hold out hope. I know that the Lord will work a mighty change in them that will rock their world! One day My joy will be as great as my sorrow.

In the meantime, I pray for strength, and expect miracles!

That's my master plan!"
posted at 15:47:36 on August 26, 2013 by angelmom
The Parents' Guide    
posted at 22:21:16 on August 26, 2013 by BeClean
"I'm not really a pro on filters. I just believe every family should have one to reduce accidental porn discovery and to make family members accountable. They are not perfect. I bet I could break any one of them. But, they do something important.

I think I'll start another blog on filters..."
posted at 22:23:05 on August 26, 2013 by BeClean

Do you remember what blog that was on that I shared that story about my kids? Could you link it here for me?"
posted at 23:47:18 on August 26, 2013 by maddy
"Ha! You know, I can't find it. Maybe it was something you wrote on the spouse's side and my wife told me about it and it really stuck with me. You have a blog called Therapist I can't access. If that's it, I hope you aren't upset my wife shared the story with me. It has really made me think about how we need to learn to be content with our problems, because they could be worse or we could have easier ones, but we would still be just as frustrated.

I found a lot of other great vintage Maddy blogs on my search. But missing so much good stuff from Maddy, because some of the best stuff comes when she's helping others."
posted at 07:38:40 on August 27, 2013 by beclean
Another possibility    
"That blog "Therapist" seems too old, because I don't think the story was that long ago. I searchedthe site for "magic," and that brings up another blog you wrote just a few months ago called, "The Turning Point." But I can't read that either. I'm not sure why that one doesn't show up when you click on Maddy to see all your blogs. Weird."
posted at 07:51:08 on August 27, 2013 by beclean
Hey Maddy,    
"Was making my bed for the evening and the thought "direct revelation" whooshed through my head and I thought of you and this blog. I don't know what the other bloggers advice to you was. I'd read them but need sleep like an Inuit needs fire. So, sorry if I'm doubling up on a theme. Only the Lord knows. Let him raise your son. I really liked Becleans "consider the lilies" post. Consider them. I will with you :)"
posted at 20:26:03 on August 28, 2013 by they_speak

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"By emulating the Master, who endured temptations but “gave no heed unto them,” we, too, can live in a world filled with temptations “such as [are] common to man”. Of course Jesus noticed the tremendous temptations that came to him, but He did not process and reprocess them. Instead, He rejected them promptly. If we entertain temptations, soon they begin entertaining us! Turning these unwanted lodgers away at the doorstep of the mind is one way of giving “no heed.” Besides, these would-be lodgers are actually barbarians who, if admitted, can be evicted only with great trauma."

— Neal A. Maxwell

General Conference May 1987