I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been devoting my time to three self-help books I’m working on. I’ve finished one and have two more to go! Too many times I’ve had friends reach out to me, saying they’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or their physical health, and I’ve been frustrated that I didn’t have all the tools that helped me on paper to pass on to them. So, I’ve been working hard on finishing these and making them available. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I have what’s worked for me and that’s worth offering to others. All three books are along the themes of wellness – physical, mental, and spiritual – and I’m really excited to share them!
First, we asked the kids to share things that make them happy, that are GOOD. We shared all our favorite things about this world. The kids named mountains, animals, clouds, flowers, families, riding bikes, doing gymnastics, and a lot of other things that make us feel happy inside. We told them that all these good things come from God. He wants us to be happy and enjoy mortality. Life was meant to be sweet, like the adorable cupcakes my daughter decorated for our end of night snack.
Then we reminded them about the War in Heaven. Satan wasn’t willing to share the glory with anyone, so he was cast out. But Satan wasn’t satisfied with just leaving and taking his angels with him. He wanted to make everyone miserable too, just like him. So he found ways to twist the good things in the world and turn them into bad things, into things that could make us sad. Yes, some bad things are in this world because it’s fallen, like thorns on roses, or our bodies getting sick. Other bad things though, come because Satan has tempted people to misuse them. He wants to take away our happiness. He disguises things like cupcakes, but they are actually bitter and full of sadness.
Then we watched this video to help bring up the example of pornography…
Pornography is an example of how Satan has twisted something that should make us happy into something that becomes addictive and makes us sad. Our bodies are good, beautiful creations of God. They are meant for making families, enjoying this mortal world, and helping us become more like God. Satan wants us to use our bodies for things that are less than glorious. He wants us to use them for things they were never meant for, and some people in the world would agree. I explained that traditions have changed. 100 years ago pornography was barely available, and not considered moral in our society. But now, many consider it to be normal, and a healthy part of development. It’s everywhere! It’s even in our entertainment, advertisements, and sometimes, even encouraged in our schools.
We read the scripture 2 Nephi 15:20, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” My husband and I told them that this scripture was talking about our day. It was prophesied that our traditions would change, our spiritual language would be lost (see The Language of the Gospel) and the world would be looking for light in the darkness. I held up a flashlight that had no batteries and showed how ineffective that was. No matter how much you say something is true, if it’s not, then it’s not.
Then, we showed the kids the cupcakes we had for dessert. We explained that there are a lot of good things in this world still, like cupcakes, camping, good music, and star gazing. We told them that Satan would tempt them and try to tell them that pornography was a “sweet” thing in this world too, but that they shouldn’t believe him. Pornography is “bitter.” It’s “darkness.” It’s “evil.” It’s a plague we should stay away from. But we also told them not to worry too much or get too sad, because there were still many good things in the world, like we mentioned at the beginning of the night. And they could be strong and stand against the evil of pornography because they were saved for these days. They were valiant spirits.
Above all, we told them they could always talk to us and should talk to us when things came up and they had question and concerns. We said it wasn’t really a matter of “if” they would see pornography. It was a matter of “when.” At some point, intentionally or accidentally, they would see it. But that would not make them a bad person. I explained that I had accidentally seen it. Not as a child, because this kind of evil didn’t exist yet- the internet didn’t even exist then! But now, even without trying, pornographic images sometimes popped up online. I had to hold back tears, as I saw their faces. It was shocking enough that people would want to create pornography, and even more surprising to them that I had seen it accidentally, without trying. Oh, how I wish sometimes that innocence was eternal!
But I continued teaching through my tears and told them that they could be strong because they ARE strong. When they saw it someday, it wouldn’t mean they were a bad person. Like Harry Potter (I can’t resist Harry Potter references) is told by his godfather, Sirius Black, “You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to.” I told them that when they saw it, to come talk to us right away. I also reminded them of our house rule, that all of us (even adults) follow, of only being online in the common areas where there are other people present. I explained that even if we’re trying to watch good videos online, sometimes there are bad commercials, so it’s important to be somewhere you can have support to make the right choice. Also, they might even have friends who need them to be an example. They might be the ones leaving a bad movie some day, or telling their friends they don’t want to look at a picture. It was important they start being strong now so they could be ready for the future.
Since that night, my daughter has already talked to me three times about things she has seen. Not HUGE things. Things like the crude calendars she’s noticed with women barely wearing anything, and inappropriate drawings of kids’ cartoon characters she saw on Google. She told me she quickly looked away and closed the screen. I was proud of her for recognizing it for what it was, again, like the video clip suggests. (It really is SO good! You MUST watch it! ) I was glad she was talking to me about how it made her feel. I’m grateful we’ve established communication on this topic. I’m thankful to have tools like the video in the link above, the scriptures, and the Holy Ghost to guide me in my parenting.
As parents, we need not fear when we are prepared and have faith in our kids and God. We CAN overcome ALL things, and be the better for it. A more challenging world just means we have a better learning ground for developing stronger, braver, truer souls. I expect we will have this lesson again, but next time I will go ahead and have some “surprise” cupcakes that look sweet and actually taste bitter, as a more literal object lesson. Not yet though. I’ll let them savor the pure sweetness of life a little bit longer.