I recently discovered something about my son that shocked me. I thought ours was a strong Christian family until my 16-year-old son confessed to me that he masturbates every day. This broke my heart. Apparently, his older brother is aware and was the one who encouraged him to disclose this issue to me. To make matters worse, my son thought it was a good idea to share this with his class teacher as well. I am so ashamed and can’t bear going to his school let alone facing this class teacher.
The good thing is that we are now talking about this issue and my son has promised to stop. Do you think he will manage to stop? How do I deal with this situation and address my fears?
As you will realise, masturbation is an un-natural habit that adolescents get caught up in either out of curiosity due to natural sexual urges, being initiated to it or exposure through watching sexually explicit material. Some sexologists believe that it could also be due to a lack of love and support while growing up, or enticements from subjecting one’s mind to pornography at some point in life.
Luckily, your son confided in you and the class teacher out of a conviction that this was contrary to his held beliefs. For those who fail to get support, with time, it may become an addiction. I am glad your son believes that you can help him.
Generally, in discussing masturbation, society sees it as not only a moral issue, but as a practice that ends up causing stress, feelings of shame, distress, depression, guilt, and in others low self-esteem. Masturbation that may develop at the childhood stage due to adolescent hormones is normally easily discarded as an individual grows up into adulthood. However, it can become an abnormal practice when it is sustained to adulthood. There are also those who enter masturbation out of loneliness, feelings of abandonment, and many other emotional issues. Those who engage in the act find it comforting. Understanding the causes of this habit will help you get to the root of the cycle.
Biblically or in more restrictive environments, masturbation is viewed as a sin or a serious flaw. That is why many speak of it in hush tones as unacceptable behaviour. Biblically, God created sex to be enjoyed by a man and woman in marriage. On the contrary, masturbation is an act where one chooses to have “sexual intercourse” with oneself. As a result, it not only violates one’s self-image and esteem, but it leaves those who practice it with a feeling of guilt and shame for their actions. It is not something they can talk about openly; like one would talk about their wife or husband.
It is important to appreciate the fact that when your son chose to disclose his struggle to you, he made a major first step to get help. What’s more, your son is seeking to remain accountable to you for his actions. It may be important to rediscover if your son was enabled to watch sexually explicit materials either on his own or through peer influence. In fact, young people are good at initiating their peers into masturbation and other adventures involved with the practice. Why is masturbation a conversation many parents talk about behind closed doors and feel embarrassed to delve in freely with their children? Because issues of sexuality are not well handled by most communities, masturbation carries such cultural concern that some communities treat it as a taboo.
That said, I thank you for sharing your dilemma. I must commend your son for being honest with you. Where you are at, you need to deal with this issue gently and with much love and concern. Through this process, help your son develop habits that will help him overcome and live a life that has no regrets.
First, deal with your inner frustrations resulting from this episode. Whatever the cause, be grateful that your son chose to share with you. Feelings of shame are normal in moments like this. However, getting to know your son’s struggle is better than being kept in the dark.
Second, the person caught in the web of masturbation is most likely to increase the frequency in order to achieve satisfaction. Your aim is to ensure your son’s confession is followed by the right actions. The fact that he has out of his own free will talked to his brother and the teacher about it, offers you a great start. His future success will lean on your support and that of his brother and teacher. It is important to acknowledge that a great number of those involved in the practice tend to be secretive about their actions. Your son has made the first step of breaking the silence—his admission that there is a problem. The fact that he has made the disclosure suggests: that he is unable to deal with the issue by himself; and two, an acknowledgement of the need for accountability and support in dealing with the issue.
Another important concern has to do with the process it may take to end this habit and build new, better habits. Therefore, the issue of commitment to the process of change is key.
Here are some steps that will help your son rebuild better habits:
1) Both of you must endeavour to keep your minds focused. As for him, focusing to live free from seductive and sexually explicit material; whereas for you there will be a need to keep the focus on helping your son and overcoming your shame and fears.
2) Help your son disengage from activities that would make him vulnerable to such temptation such as watching certain movies;
3) He should learn to say no, and be clear with the goals set.
If you stay committed to this journey, you will come back with a different story about your son. Don’t give up on him.
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