I sat in her office, head down and shoulders slumped. “Too many similarities,” she said. My mind was swimming. My counselor had extensive experience working in an addiction recovery program. I looked at her, I had only found evidence a handful of times. “Could he really have a sex addiction?” I asked myself. I trusted her, but stepping out of denial was hard. Recognizing that my husband had a sex addiction was devastating.
Denial allowed me to feel safe.At the time it kept me from what I believed to be a reality and that was that it was my fault he had this addiction and I was inadequate. I later learned that could be no further from the truth.
When my husband was in sex addiction counseling, I learned some of the real truths. The addiction was around long before I became a part of the picture. When my husband told me that his first introduction to pornography was at age 5, I became worried about my little boys. How could I stop this from happening to them? My research began.
My research began!
Three things that addicts have in common:
Addicts have patterns! Studies indicate that they have three things in common.
- Childhood trauma
- Early Exposure to pornography
- No communication in the home about sex.
Childhood trauma can come in so many forms: divorce, abuse, watching a caregiver abuse someone else, neglect, parents who are emotionally detached… the list goes on and on. My children are children of divorce. They have had to face more pain and continue to face pain as they embark on their journey and tread unchartered waters. This is a part of their reality that I can’t do anything about. My heart breaks for them as I watch them struggle. This is one piece of the puzzle that it stacked up against them.
Early Exposure to Pornography
My ex-husband was introduced to pornography by accident at age 5. As I look at my little 5-year-old son and see how innocent he is, my heart is saddened for my ex-husband. He saw pornography long before he should have. He was not searching for it, and he didn’t know what it was, but the images stick… even for little minds. For him a stash of pornography was left in a house they were renting and he happened to find it. It was not his fault.
I need to do everything I can to prevent this type of early exposure.
No Communication in the home
I don’t know all the details about the sex communication my ex-husband received when he was a child, but he did tell me that it wasn’t much. He said that his mom did talk to him a little. I do know that if his household was like mine, we did not talk about sex. I had so much shame around sex that three years ago I felt uncomfortable if it came up in an adult conversation. Let alone feeling comfortable talking to a child. Looking back I remember when I was 18, my roommates pulled me aside a couple of months before I was to be married. One was a biology major and one day she asked just the right question and realized that I needed to be educated. I was clueless about many things and I was about to be have sex. I also remember In 2001 I taught a health class to 7th graders. One of the chapters that I had to teach was sex education and I had to practice saying sex over and over in the mirror so that I could teach the lesson. I had a lot of shame around sex and I am determined that my boys will not have that same shame.
So, what about my little boys?
Do my boys have a chance? They have been through a divorce, there is one childhood trauma that I can’t change. Does this make them 33% more likely to have a sex addiction?
Have they had early exposure? I know that one of my children walked in on his dad and myself during an intimate moment when he was about 8. Does that count for early exposure? Now is he 66% more likely to have an addiction? (I found out that walking in on a parent is early exposure, but it is not the same as if they come upon actual pornography that is more graphic.)
So what can I do about it? There is one thing that I as a parent I have perfect control over. I can choose to educate my boys. (All the advice I give here was given to me by an addiction counselor) At the age of 8, I begin teaching my little boys about sex. Some studies show that the age of first exposure is between 8-10 years old. I know that if I don’t talk to them about this the world will.
I start with a book called “Where Did I Come From” by Peter Mayle. I read this to my boys after their 8th birthday. Then after that, if they want to look at it or read it again I let them. I ask them if they have questions and I always answer honestly. Even when the questions are hard.
I also think that the book, “What’s Happening to Me” by Peter Mayle is a good one. I plan on reading this book to my boys when they are 12. I personally do not like the page about Masturbation. It does not align with my religious beliefs, I do talk to them about Masturbation, but I do it in a way that matches what believe.
I believe that masturbation is a normal part of sexual development, (although I wish that it wasn’t) and that most kids will try it out when they are exploring their body. I do not believe that it should be encouraged. My ex-husband would fantasize about other women and masturbate. It was part of his addiction, in fact, I believe that it kept the addiction flourishing because it is what would dump the chemicals into his body that he was craving. I won’t encourage my children to fall into the same pattern. However, if they do it a few times I will not shame them either. Shaming them will lead to hiding. if they start hiding it and it is not spoken of openly it is more likely to lead to addiction.
I can do something, and so can you! Educate your children. Teach them about the dangers of pornography and break patterns.
Other resources that I use: