by John Fort
Director of Pure Community | co-author of Father-Son Accountability
Originally posted Jan. 8 via purecommunity.org
Most parents I talk to whole heartedly agree that their kids need help navigating the sexually explicit 21st Century. But most that I observe end up leaving their children to fend for themselves. They may punish them if they are caught looking at pornography or sexting, but that does little good in the long run.
I finally realized that one of the main reasons we parents are so reluctant to actively mentor our children is we fear we are too messed up ourselves to help our children. We feel like hypocrites even considering such a thing. Maybe hypocrite is too strong a word to use, but most of us parents—fathers at least—realize we are far from ideal subjects for our children to emulate. I can relate to those feelings.
But consider our children’s point of view. They do want someone to talk to, but they believe we can’t possibly understand what they are feeling when it comes to sexual temptation. If it is true that we never struggled with the desire to see pornography and we never gave in, then our children are correct—we cannot understand what they are facing. The reality is, the fact that we have messed up is what qualifies us as mentors. Our failures are not a weakness; they are what allow us to relate to our children’s struggles.
My son and I talk weekly about our journeys toward purity. I remember the first time I had to tell him that I had failed. He was 13 or 14 at the time. I didn’t want to tell him. I was sure he would reject me as his mentor. I realized, however, that if I wanted him to be honest with me, I had to prove I would do the same. So, I took a deep breath and admitted to him my failure. He gave a sigh of relief and said to me, “I’m sure glad I’m not the only one.”
As much as I did not want to admit to my son such a personal part of my life, it was a turning point in our conversations. He became more honest and we both grew significantly in the following years.
Our failures, even recent ones, do not make us hypocrites as parents. They help us know what to talk about with our kids. More importantly, they let our kids know we are safe for them to be honest with their journey.
John Fort and his son, Lucas, will present a special breakout session for Fathers & Sons – Father & Son Accountability – at the 2016 Higher Ground Men’s Conference Saturday, Feb. 27 at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue. Special discounted tickets for Fathers & Sons available online. John and Lucas are the authors of Father-Son Accountability: Integrity Through Relationship. John speaks regularly on Parenting for Purity in the 21st Century and is the director of Parents 4 Purity, a program of Pure Life Alliance.