How To Hold A Parallel Parenting & No Contact Boundary

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. We’re gonna talk about parallel parenting today. We’re going to also talk about no- contact, which is a boundary that some women would like to set with someone in separation, or sometime in divorce. This is a really safe boundary for someone who is dealing with a narcissist, or someone who is dealing with an abuser.

Related: Detecting & Confronting Gaslighting

I myself hold a no-contact boundary. I’ve had lots of women ask me questions about this. “How do you do it with kids?” “How do you do it in these situations?” We’re going to do a series about parallel parenting and no-contact. This is the first one in our series.

Why Are Boundaries So Important In Separation and Divorce From An Addict?

Related: Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries

Anne: I want to welcome Coach Sarah.

Coach Sarah: Thank you, Anne, it’s great to be here.

Anne: We have a client, Kate. Welcome Kate.

Kate: Hi, Anne. Hi, Sarah.

Coach Sarah: Hi.

Anne: Kate is a little nervous.

Kate: Very nervous.

Anne: We’re huddled around the microphone in my basement, so it’s going to be very fun. I want to let Kate start here by talking about her current situation with her ex-husband. What’s going on, the triggers she has, and then we’ll have Sarah have some input. Sarah has a Boundaries group that runs—if you’re interested, you can go to our Services page and check that out. No-contact is a very protective boundary needed for situations like abuse, or narcissism, that I experience, and that Kate also has experienced. I’m just going to have her start, and we’ll go from there.

How Do I Determine What Type Of Boundary Is Best?

Kate: I recently divorced—was final this last October. I was married for 35 years, 3 children. I have a 17-year-old daughter living at home with me still, and 2 adult married children. I get triggered when I get an email, or a text from my ex-husband. It feels like any healing that has happened in my life unravels the minute I see a text or read an email.

I really feel strongly that I need to have a no-contact boundary. He has not respected the boundaries that I have requested and implemented in my life, but I still need to be safe, and continue the healing process from my marriage, and the betrayal, and the narcissism, and the porn addiction that I lived with every day of my life, for 35 years.

Anne: You told me a story about an email he recently sent to you about how he wanted to “co-parent”, can you talk about that for a minute?

Related: Covenant Eyes filtering software protects my family.

What Are Examples of Boundaries For Gaslighting?

Kate: One Sunday morning there was an email from him. It said something to the effect of, “Would you consider looking at this religious video, because I want to set a united front with our daughter, in her use of social media?” Well, there wasn’t any link that he provided, so I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but I knew exactly, the minute I read the email, what was going on.

This is what I call his “pretend parenting” that he’s done throughout our marriage. He comes up with a great idea we can implement in our family, and with our children to help them with whatever challenges we’re having as parents. I get on board and start to get excited about doing something as partners, together, to help our family.

When we start to present it to our children, he opts out. He goes quiet, he doesn’t talk. He starts doing something else, getting distracted, and our kids are looking at me and looking at him. Then he just starts to shrug his shoulders when they look at him like, “I don’t know what she’s talking about. She’s crazy,” and the new idea, whatever it is, is dead before it’s hit the ground running.

Can I Set Boundaries With A Narcissistic Ex?

Our children have always been conflicted when this happens, and so have I. I look like this person who’s on a quest all by herself to force our children to give up their phones before bedtime, or a new curfew. I knew this was another attempt at his pretend parenting. He does it to make himself feel good about being a parent. But then, he doesn’t want to do the hard work of implementing strategies that help our children grow and learn and have boundaries in their own life.

Even though I responded to it and said, “There’s no link,” that’s all I wrote, he never sent another email with a link, and it hasn’t been discussed ever since. As soon as I read the email and realized the dynamics that were going on, I could tell, “Okay, this is another trigger for me, because it sends me back to times when I would get excited about co-parenting with him, and then he would leave me hanging.”

Anne: I’m going to speak for Kate for a minute, if you don’t mind, since I know her quite well. Throughout my friendship with her, she’s told me several instances of emotional abuse, due to her ex.

Kate: Yes.

What is a No-Contact Boundary?

Anne: Setting a no-contact boundary seems like it would be a good plan at this point. I want to tell you one of—an example from my parenting situation. When my ex says “co-parenting” I believe what he means is during his parenting time, he would like to be able to drop the kids off at my house at will, or he would like to be able to tell me what to do. Rather than being able to have a meaningful conversation where we come to an agreement, it ends up always being a power struggle because he acts like a narcissist. There’s no way to get around that.

Kate’s dealing with that same thing. I want to introduce the concept of parallel parenting, which a lot of people haven’t heard of. When I first started going through my divorce, co-parenting was always coming up, and no one ever said anything about parallel parenting. Sarah, can you just briefly tell our listeners what parallel parenting is?

Is Parallel Parenting A Boundary?

Coach Sarah: I can. Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which, typically, divorced parents are able to parent by means of disengaging. That’s the important part there, the ability to disengage from each other in situations where they have demonstrated that they’re unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner, with that controlling behavior that you’re talking about, with what I would call the “good guy gaslighting” that I heard Kate just talk about. It allows for, basically, an arrangement to be made where one parent might make and assume that some decision-making responsibility in different domains. That way there’s very little actual interaction between the parents.

Anne: If I could just summarize that in layman’s terms it would be you do what you want with the kids when they’re with you, and I’m going to do what I think is best for the kids when they’re with me. We don’t need to talk about this unless someone’s going to die. If there’s some kind of crazy emergency, then we can go through a third party, or we can go through a mediator, or some type of third-party so that we can agree.

Coach Sarah: Exactly.

Anne: Is that—

How Can A Parallel Parenting Boundary Work In A Situation With A Narcissist?

Coach Sarah: Yeah. Usually what that means is that major decisions—and even sometimes this can be separated out like one parent might make school decisions, another one might make medical, then the day-to-day kind of things, unless there’s some big thing going on, you just do you when you’ve got the kids, and I’ll do me when I’ve got the kids, if you have shared custody.

One of my former clients had to go to court to get her ex to sign off on allowing their kid to have play therapy. The judge actually ordered that they use this specific email system that monitors the emailing. There are a number of different programs, or organizations or businesses—I don’t know what the right word is—that you can go to that that’s their job, right, is to be that third party in situations like this.

When Does A Parallel Parenting Boundary Not Work?

Anne: Kate, what are your thoughts about it?

Kate: As I’ve read about parallel parenting, it makes a lot of sense, and it sounds great. Yet, when I read about it, I think, “Well, my situation is different because this,” or “My situation, that won’t work for me, because I don’t have a third-party.” Really, my ex-husband doesn’t parent my daughter. I have sole custody. She’s with him occasionally, but she gets to decide when she’s with him. It’s not a regular basis, so he really doesn’t have a lot of say in decisions about her. I don’t know, what we need to combine on.

It just seems like he interjects himself into my life randomly. Really, for no reason that I can see. Like for instance, I’ve asked him to send the child support alimony check in the mail. Just the other night, he texted me and said, “I’m dropping off the check, I’ll leave it under the doormat on your front porch.”

I’ve asked him not to do that before, because it’s not secure. It’s not a safe option, and, yet, he doesn’t respect that request. He just doesn’t want to buy a stamp, basically, and he wants to interject himself into my life any way he can.

Can Boundaries Help Me Heal From Narcissistic Abuse?

Coach Sarah: Mm-hmm. I love a number of things that have been said. How Kate was saying, “I think he just wants to interject himself into my life.” I agree. I hear someone who’s trying to hook you, trying to bait you. My ex is actually very much like this as well. I’m very familiar with dealing with these kinds of emails, and things like that. As far as the boundaries are concerned, I think part of what we have to do, first, is understand the gaslighting behavior that’s going on as well.

Yes, there’s boundaries, but, oftentimes, if we can’t see past the gaslighting, we’re just going to get confused about what’s actually going on, and why is this happening, then we get distracted. The thing that we need to understand about the gaslighting is, ultimately, the result is more important than how they gaslight us. What happens when we’re being gaslit? We get confused. We’re not sure like, “Do I need to respond to this email? Do I not need to respond to this email?” We just get in that powerless place again.

Kate: Those were the exact thoughts going through my mind. Like, “What do I do? Do I just ignore this?” Even though I didn’t see him come to my door to drop this check off, I felt myself triggered. I went down in my basement to just get away from possibly seeing him, or even hearing him at the door.

What About Boundaries When Dealing With Triggers?

Coach Sarah: There’s a number of things that can be done. I have a number of people—and this is something that I highly recommend to women that are in a situation where they have an abusive person in their life that they’re trying to minimize contact with or no-contact.

Do you have safe people who you can say, “You know what, I just got another email from my ex. Will you please read it, and let me know if there’s anything I actually have to respond to? Is there anything important? Is there any money, or talk about the health of the kids, or anything that I actually have to respond to? Because, otherwise, I don’t need that. I don’t need that triggery feeling. I don’t need the re-traumatization of it.” If you have safe people, I think that’s one of the most brilliant things that we can do. It doesn’t hit them the same as it does us. That’s a fantastic boundary to put up.

Anne: Right. With that, I think even just seeing the email in the inbox is triggering. If we can block them on our email and block them in our phone and have them send the email to that safe person, and, say, just send it directly to that person, so that we don’t even have to see when it pops up in our email. I think that is the best-case scenario, because then that person’s not triggered by seeing an email.

How Do I Get Help To Set Boundaries With An Abusive Ex?

Because my dad wrote my ex and said, “I will not stand for this abuse anymore. I have instructed Anne to block you on her phone and on her email. From now on, you will only write to me.” I never even have to worry about seeing an email in my inbox. I know I’m never going to get a text, because I’ve blocked him.

I want to tell a funny story really fast. One day I received a text that said, “Watch out, I’m going to get you.” It was from an anonymous phone number. I immediately called the police, and they started tracking it, because I thought, “This is my ex, or something to do with my ex.” Well, the police called and said, “It’s coming from your neighborhood.” Like that “When a Stranger Calls”, like, “The call is coming from inside the house!”

It was like that, and I was like, “My neighborhood?” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s one of your neighbors.” I was like, “Oh, my word.” He’s like, “Do you think maybe he’s having an affair with one of your neighbors, or stuff like that?” I was like, “I don’t know.” I said, “Which neighbor?” The police officer wouldn’t tell me, so then he said, “Let me just go talk to your neighbor, and see what’s going on.”

What Can I Do To Protect Myself From My Abusive Husband?

He went and talked to my neighbor, and he called me and said, “You know, it’s [blank].” I won’t say her name. She’s one of my really good friends, and I had come around the corner in my car, and she had almost run into me with her car. She was totally just joking around, and I forgot to put her phone number in my phone. She just was like, “Watch out, I’m going to get you!” as a joke.

In that moment, I had to call the police, I had to do all these things. It was such a triggery time for me, so I don’t answer phone calls from anonymous numbers, because I don’t know if that anonymous number might be from him or not. I really try to put people that I trust, like my neighbor, who I love—she’s awesome—in my phone, so that I don’t have days like that where I’m like, “Oh my word, I have to call the police.”

Sending it somewhere else is really important, which might be one of these apps, for example, like Family Wizard, or something like that. Maybe you could set up the app, make him think you’re reading it, but then ask someone else to open that app up for you, and then block him on email on your phone.

How Does Gaslighting Harm Me?

Coach Sarah: We have to back up a sec, in my opinion, because I want to go back to the gaslighting. We go back to that example that you used about the email, where he wanted to co-parent, or he wanted you to look at this video, because “We want to make sure our kids are doing well with the screen time, and duh, duh, duh.”

When a person is psychologically abusive, which is what gaslighting is, it’s emotional and psychological abuse, one of the most damaging ways that they can gaslight us is when they use our values against us. Right, so it’s this trying to hook us by hitting on our value of being a good mom, or our faith, or different things that they know are values to us that can cause us to engage with them, with, likely, no intention of actually following through.

They just want to be in control. They manipulate the situation so that they can get us to engage with them again. What we have to do in that moment is, first of all, recognize that that’s what’s going on, that our values are being used against us, and remind ourselves of what the actual truth is.

How Do I Break Free From Gaslighting?

The actual truth is I’m a good parent, right. I don’t need to watch this video. Me and my 17-year-old daughter, we’re doing great. We ground ourselves by reminding ourselves back of whatever the truth is. Then, even going further to what you were talking about, about just blocking. Right, just straight blocking so that you don’t even have to deal with that.

This is multiple layers here, right, because not everybody can go to straight blocking. Some people can. Those like Kate, like myself, that have full custody, we can do that. We don’t have to interact as much, or we can go completely no-contact, but not everybody can. When we’re looking at things like completely blocking the email, sometimes what a hurdle is for us is that goes against our own nature, our own values. Like, “That seems so mean,” like, “That’s so harsh.”

Just to completely cut somebody out of my life, especially when they’ll probably send emails like, “Why are you being so mean,” and, “You’re being unfair, cutting me out of my kids’ lives.” I don’t know if you guys have heard any of the stuff like that, but my ex will say stuff like that. Saying the things that sound good but are really empty. When our values are challenged, there’s a conflict. The conflict is between our safety or a traditional definition of what co-parenting is.

How Can I Value My Own Healing From Betrayal Trauma?

We have to really decide what’s our biggest value here, and my biggest value is I need to not go into an emotional tailspin and be re-traumatized every time I see his name pop up in my email account, or as a text. Because that has become the priority of my biggest value, then that empower us to make those kind of super-protective boundaries that might seem a little dramatic. They’re not, they’re completely necessary. Does that make sense?

Kate: It does. It always feels like, when one of these things come up, I have to choose between my own safety and what’s best for my daughter. It feels like my ex-husband almost has me convinced that me interacting with him is what’s best for my daughter. I know, intellectually, it’s not, because of past experience.

It feels like I have to put my safety on the backseat, and let him do the driving, because we have to co-parent our daughter. Like today, I had to be at a grandson’s birthday party, and he was there. I don’t know how to get around that situation, because I don’t want to force my adult children to have to have separate parties, or—I lived through that as a young mom with my parents who were divorced. They expected me to have separate parties for each set of grandparents, and that just didn’t work. It just feels like I have to put my safety needs, and my emotional security second.

What Are Creative Ways to Manage Boundaries?

Coach Sarah: How creative can we get with your boundaries? Because, sometimes, especially when we’re in a place of trauma—I don’t know about you all, but my creativity goes kind of down the toilet. I am not creative. How creative can you get?

Kate: No ideas come up.

Coach Sarah: Can it be—and then what we do is we start brainstorming. How many different options? How many different doors can we look behind to see what are the options for boundaries, so that you don’t have to completely give away your safety? Maybe you can’t have it quite as safe, which means he wouldn’t be there, but what are your other options?

Anything ranging from, “You know what, today, I can’t make this party, but I’m going to take him out on this special Grandma Day, or we celebrate his birthday.” Or, it might be, “I’m going to go in with the mindset that I’m going to see my ex, and I’m going to have an ‘escape plan’.” That’s my boundary is that I’m going to have outs, where, if I need to leave the house, I’ll go run an errand like, “Oh, I see you need some candles. I’ll go to the store and get some candles.”

What Can I Do About A Toxic Situation?

Just make up creative things, for reasons to get out of the situation if it becomes toxic, or if it becomes traumatizing to you, that you have already prepared and exit plan. Because then, again, you feel at least a little bit more in control. When you’re there, and you don’t have an exit plan, you feel trapped, you feel powerless. Boundaries are meant to make us feel safe and empowered. That’s what we’re looking for in situations like that is how creative can I get around my safety, and around the boundaries that I can implement.

Anne: The reason I wanted to do this in a series, and I wanted to do it with Kate, is sort of a test case, because I assume that many of our listeners have this same issue where they would like as little contact as possible with their abuser, or with the person who’s betrayed them, because they’re still not safe. They don’t feel safe, and they don’t know how to do it.

Coach Sarah: If you’re not comfortable setting a protective boundary of absolutely zero email contact, or texting contact, or you don’t have the ability. Maybe you don’t have the safe people like Anne and I do, one of the thoughts, as well, is that you can just not respond. Just because he sends you an email or a text doesn’t mean you have to respond. I have found that to be a particularly potent response is a non-response, because part of what they’re trying to do is get us to engage. If we don’t engage, oftentimes, they can start backing up a little bit. If we don’t give them that reaction.

I Try To Co-Parent But My Ex Refuses

Kate: I have done that with texts that I know I don’t need to respond to. Like he would text me, “Have you seen my camera charger?” or, “Can you find this in our files?”

Coach Sarah: Do you even need to get those texts?

Kate: I don’t. I don’t, because it’s just another way for him to assume that I need to take care of things he’s lost or be his mommy. The problem with my ex is he’s a narcissist, but he’s a covert narcissist. He portrays himself as this really easy-going person, who’s really friendly and carefree. But his response, if I were to block him, or if I don’t answer a text or an email, is he portrays me to other people that he’s the victim, that I’m the abuser, and that I’m not co-parenting with him, and—

Anne: That’s exactly how my ex is too. Before I implemented the no-contact, I was getting crazy texts like, “Why don’t I have diapers?” I’m like, “You can go to the store and get diapers,” or “Why don’t I have this, or that?” Just anything he could do to hook me in, but he seems like this such nice guy on the outside.

How Can I Overcome The Opinions of Others?

Coach Sarah: Those that are in the arena are the ones whose opinions matter. Those who are getting dirty and bloody with you, fighting in the trenches. The spectators, those that he’s able to sway, those are the people that are the spectators, and their opinions, although they might not be fun, they’re not the ones that we have to let influence us.

We can choose to be like, “You know what, you’re just a spectator, you are not my people who are in the arena getting dirty and bloody with me. Those are the people whose words matter, and whose opinions matter. I know those people will allow me to speak my truth into this situation.”

Kate: I just finished a Rising Strong class with my therapist, who’s a Brene Brown trainer, and I was so disappointed, because I wasn’t—

How Can Disengaging With My Narcissistic Ex Help Me?

Coach Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Kate: — at the end of the class, I didn’t feel like I had risen, strong enough.

Coach Sarah: Know, it is a process.

Anne: Absolutely, it’s a long process.

Coach Sarah: I know that we’re going to do this as a series. What Anne and I were hoping that we could have you do is have a goal of something that you would like to try with this parallel parenting idea of disengaging. Right, how can you disengage maybe just a little bit more than you have been.

It might be a little bit of a stretch, might be a little bit out of your comfort zone, initially, right, because potential pushback, but in the long run will increase your safety, will decrease your triggers, and help you build some of that resiliency. Talk about rising strong, how are you going to be able to build that resiliency, and rise fast, if you’re constantly being dinged and, basically, harassed.

How Can I Extend My Boundaries To Keep Myself Safe?

How can you implement something that’s going to, maybe, extend your boundaries just a little bit more? Push out the safety just a little bit more than you have, than right now. See how that goes, we can check in with you the next podcast and see how that went, what the successes were, how it might’ve helped you, any potential pushback, or fallout from that boundary, and then we can, hopefully, learn a little bit from your experience and some other ladies might get some insight. Does that sound good to you?

Kate: Great, I would definitely like to take the step of blocking his phone number and his email and maybe using this app to have some kind of third-party situation. I don’t have a trusted person that would be willing to do what Anne’s dad does.

Anne: At least right now you don’t.

Kate: At least right now.

My Ex Is Abusive To Me

Anne: I want women to know that it is possible. I think the number one thing that stops women from doing this, and getting to safety, is they don’t think it’s possible. Like what you said before, they don’t get creative about how to do it, because they just think, “It’s not possible, so I’m not going to try. If women think it is possible—this is possible, and with faith, I can accomplish this. Now, how do I do it is the key.

Coach Sarah: It feels counterintuitive. It goes against most of our natures where we’re loving and we’re caring and we’re nurturing, and that feels really cold to just say, “I’m going to cut you out of my life, because you are dangerous. You are harmful.” We feel like we need to have somebody give us permission to do that. It’s not just that we feel like it’s not possible, we don’t feel like we have permission.

I think it’s important that we give ourselves permission to go ahead and do that, because it’s necessary. It’s not us being mean. It’s not us being cold. Those are the old lies of the gaslighting, those are not the truth. The truth is that you deserve to be safe, so you can give yourself permission to take this protective step. I think that’s really important.

How To Focus On My Own Healing From Betrayal Trauma?

Kate: That’s a good point. I think women, in general, but especially in my religious culture are trained, and expected, to be nice and to get along and do anything, even at all costs, for the family and for children especially. That’s really going against that expectation, that cultural training, that religious training, for me to cut someone out of my life, especially someone connected to my children and grandchildren.

I would like us all to get along and work cooperatively, but this is a person that cannot work as a team in any situation. It’s just not safe. I would really to not have those texts and emails coming to me by next time. I just think the idea of an app, or a third-party is a great idea. Some buffer zone between me and my ex, to keep those triggers from happening, and then blocking him on my phone.

Coach Sarah: Yes.

Kate: It would be hard, but it would be good, especially because we have some financial issues that we still need to work out from the divorce decree, so that’s going to be extra challenging.

How To Build Resiliency With An Abusive Ex?

Anne: I’m not sure, but as you research that app, Family Wizard, or any other apps, I think some of them have the financial stuff too, that you can go through. If you’re listening, and you have the answers to this, will you please comment below, because this is new territory for so many people. If you’ve been using an app, like Family Wizard, or a third-party app, and you’re an expert at third-party technology to keep us safe, please comment on our site, and let other women learn from your experience.

Coach Sarah: A really good start on some action steps to help make these goals become a reality for you, and create a little bit more safety for you, a little less trauma, and hopefully building some resiliency for you. I’m excited to see how these things go for you.

Kate: Thanks, Coach Sarah. I appreciate your help.

Small Goals Can Help Bring Peace and Healing

Anne: We will check back in with Kate and Coach Sarah in a little while and see how Kate did with her goals. Again, I want to restate her goals to block her ex on her phone and block her ex on her email and research an appropriate app to have contact with him about her financial things and about her daughter that still lives at home.

Those are the three goals that she has made for herself today, and I am really excited to see what happens. No judgement here, if nothing happens, because we’re all just progressing any way that we can, and, no matter what happens, we love you Kate.

We’re doing our groups a little bit differently now at BTR. Our main goal at BTR is to meet women’s needs where they are. We have several different groups available on the Services page. You can sign up at any time for any of these groups and as soon as they fill, they will run. After you see what groups we have available, and you register for the groups that apply to you, go ahead and post the link for the group description page in your secret Facebook groups, or our secret Facebook group.

Are There Others Who Have Gone Through Betrayal Trauma?

Let members of those secret Facebook groups know, “Hey, I joined this group from Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Join too and as soon as it fills, it will run.” Sarah runs four groups. She facilitates Setting and Holding Healthy Boundaries, Detecting & Confronting Gaslighting, Healing My Self-worth & Self-image, and Therapeutic Disclosures & Therapeutic Polygraphs. Sarah, will you take a minute to describe your Detecting & Confronting Gaslighting group, and your Setting and Holding Healthy Boundaries group?

Coach Sarah: It’s so important, because gaslighting damages our intuition, our voice, our connection to reality, which, without that, how do we keep boundaries, if we’re disconnected from our reality? How do we know what our values are? How do we make decisions clearly about whether or not we can stay in a relationship? All of these things really have a huge connection back to gaslighting, so it’s one of my favorite groups to facilitate. Click here to register for the Detecting & Confronting Gaslighting group.

Why Are Boundaries So Important With Abuse?

My group Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries helps so many women. We use the Vicki Tidwell Palmer book: Moving Beyond Betrayal.  that we use in that group, she talks about healthy boundaries being one of the best forms of self-care that we can do, and I agree. Again, because so many times we’re convinced that, “If I give myself permission to have the boundaries that I need to have in order to feel safe,” then we feel mean, or we feel like we’re being vindictive.

What the truth is all we’re doing is keeping ourselves safe, and this is a great group that helps us understand “What is the actual process of forming good boundaries,” and making that request to our spouse in a way that is both healthy, but solid. There’s not any kind of wishy-washiness to it. There’s a firmness that allows us to feel strong, and to have our voice heard, and to feel really clear as we’re delivering our boundaries. It’s a great course.

Anne: To check out the groups we offer, click here. Again, if this podcast was interesting to you, we’d love to hear your comments. Also, please rate it on iTunes. Every single time you comment, every single time you rate us on iTunes, it increases our search engine rankings, and it helps women find us.

How Can I Find Help?

When women are searching out there for, “Why is my marriage going bad?” or “What can I do?” I don’t want them to find, “The 10 Ways You Can be More Sexy,” or “How to Improve Communication.” I want them to find the truth, because those types of articles just keep them in that abuse cycle, and that porn user will just continue to abuse them and blame them, and the hurt will continue.

Our job here, at BTR, is to stop that hurt by educating women about what the truth is about their situation, that they are worthy of love, that they are beautiful, and that they deserve to be treated well. Until next week, stay safe out there.

How To Have A Conversation About Healthy Sexuality With Your Kids

Ending 2017 With Betrayal Trauma Recovery

We have almost made it through 2017. It is a miracle! I want to thank all of you who have donated to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. We have a goal of $5,000 by the end of the year, as part of #givingtuesday. If you have not donated yet, please donate today!

We really appreciate these recurring donations that help us cover our monthly costs. Click the monthly option if you can donate $5.00 or $10.00 a month. It makes a big difference. Also, those one-time donations help us make progress toward that $5,000.00 goal.

This will be the last podcast of the year. We’re going to take a break until, holy cow, January 9, 2018. Since most women need support through the holidays, please join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club gives you access to six sessions per week.

I previously said up to 30 sessions per month, but I realized I did the math wrong. I was thinking five weeks in a month. Don’t ask me, trauma brain. Anyway, we will add more sessions as more women join, but right now, it’s six sessions per week. That will enable you to have an APSATS coaching session nearly every single day of the week.

Join BTR Club For Betrayal Support Through The Holidays

To our friends in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, we have a special time for you on Monday nights at 3:00am Eastern Time. We set all of our times at Eastern Time just to keep them consistent, but you can go and calculate what time it is for your time zone for all of those group sessions, and figure out which times work for you in the time zone that you’re in.

Every woman is welcome in every session, no matter where you live. If that 3:00am time works for you, because you’re obsessing in the middle of the night, and you really need help in the middle of the night, you too can go to that 3:00am session with Coach Cat. Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club to help get you through those holidays.

We’re so grateful for your support, in terms of donations and being our clients. I also need to take a minute to thank all of the amazing volunteers that work behind the scenes of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, our board. We have so many women who donate their time transcribing podcasts, sharing information on social media, editing the website, and writing articles.

This really is a group effort, and I need to thank all of you. I’m not going to thank you by name because I want to protect your anonymity, but know that I am so grateful, and that without you, Betrayal Trauma Recovery could not function. Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers, and our board.

Teaching Our Children About Healthy Sexuality, Before They Learn From Unhealthy Sources

Sherie Adams Christensen is with us today. We’re going to talk about how to protect our children. She has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and has worked with sex addicts and their families for more than 12 years, both clinically and as a volunteer. Her two passions are betrayal trauma recovery work and teaching parents how to have conversations about healthy sexuality with their children. She has presented her work across the United States and internationally. You can find her at Welcome, Sherie.

Sherie: Thanks, Anne. It’s good to be here.

Anne: You told me a little bit about your book and then you sent it to me. I have actually used it with my children. Can you tell our audience what the book is called, what it’s about, and what prompted you to write your book?

Sherie: The book is called, My Body is a Gift from God: Introducing Conversations to Safeguard Children. The book is about teaching your children about healthy sexuality from very young ages, to help protect them and preempt the barrage of unhealthy sexual messages they’re going to get throughout their lives.

Help For Parents To Start Conversations That Would Otherwise Be Difficult And Scary

As you’ve mentioned in the introduction, I have worked with sex addicts and, especially their spouses and loved ones for over a decade. I love that work so much, but it’s also really heartbreaking to see all the damage that’s caused by sexual addiction. Then you couple that with the alarming rise of sexual addiction in general, and the lowering age of exposure to sexual materials, and we have what is now being referred to as a public health crisis.

It’s my belief that schools and governments and other institutions can do really wonderful things to prevent this crisis, and to help children, but I see parents and families as the place where the rubber hits the road. Parents just have this really unique responsibility and opportunity to educate their children on what healthy sexuality is, and what it looks like.

When I started presenting 10 years ago, there was almost nothing available to really help parents. Everywhere I was presenting, parents were literally asking if they could record what I was saying because it sounded possible. Sometimes we get in these mindsets that healthy sexuality is a difficult topic, a scary topic to talk about.

We don’t know how to do it in age-appropriate ways. It just feels scary. They said, “I just want to record your voice, because I could do that.” I just thought, “Well, I think we need a book. We need to get information out there to people so that they can do it themselves.”

Anne: Yeah, it is a very big concern for our audience, because they know the effects of sexual addiction, and they really want to help their children avoid it. What makes your book different than the other books available?

Invite Continued Conversations About Pornography, Sexual Abuse, Body Image And More

Sherie: This book’s about teaching healthy sexuality in general. It is not about teaching your child about pornography or sexual abuse or body image. It covers all of that. Like the title says, it’s about introducing conversations to safeguard your children.

Each page is, literally, an invitation to further conversations, either initiated by the parent or the child, so you can have thousands of conversations, based off the contents of this book. That’s very intentional.

It’s written to be general, and to open the door for all these kinds of conversations, to get that process started, because that’s what we need to do. We just need to be talking all the time. This book is written to open that door to have conversations about what’s going on in a child’s life, what the parent is noticing.

Anne: The old-school way was like, “Okay, plan this special date. Take your child to a special place, and then tell them how beautiful sex is, and don’t really talk about pornography, because if they understand how beautiful sex is then they’ll just avoid it naturally.” I don’t know, it was just this weird way of doing it, rather than being like, “We talk about sex anytime.” Right?

Sherie: Yes.

Anne: We talk about our bodies, or how we’re feeling at any time, while we’re going to school, while we are at dinner. There’s not this overriding feeling at our home that we can only talk about certain subjects at certain times.

Sherie: Absolutely, or not talk about them at all, right?

Anne: Right.

Overwhelming Access To Porn Requires Us To Talk, And Talk Often

Sherie: I think very few parents even got the “let’s go to a special place and only talk about it one time ever.” Yeah, it’s definitely a complete shift. The reason why is because we have a complete shift in the way that our society has access to, and views these kinds of things.

Anne: That being said, I think, if people would’ve talked about sex more often, and in layered, and ongoing ways, we wouldn’t have a generation of porn addicts now. Even though people say, “We have to talk about it all the time now, because teenagers have porn in their pocket, on their cell phones,” I still think it would’ve been beneficial for people to be talking about sexuality in the ‘50s, healthy sexuality, or even in the 1800’s.

It would’ve been healthy from the beginning of time, for people to be able to talk about healthy sexuality. I bet in 4000 B.C. they didn’t even really know what healthy sexuality was. It was like, “You Jane, me horny.” Right, that was maybe about the healthy sexuality they got.

Sherie: Yeah.

Anne: It would’ve been good in any time period, is what I’m trying to say.

Sherie: Absolutely. It’s just one of those topics that has just sort of been ignored. You just push it under the rug. I think people were able to get away with it a little bit more, you just can’t do that now. You really, really, can’t or you’re just asking for issues with your children. They’re, most likely, going to have issues anyway.

Including God In The Conversation Adds Another Layer Of Truth To Create Healthy Sexual Views

Anne: Why did you choose to talk about God in your book, when talking about healthy sexuality?

Sherie: This book is mono-theistically non-denominational, which means, if you believe in God, in a God that loves you and wants you to be healthy and care for yourself, then this book is for you. I just want to point that out first. I feel like it’s really important for parents to talk about God, when they are talking about healthy sexuality, because every layer of truth that we put into a topic gives it more breadth and more depth.

Our children need as much truth around this as possible. You can make it very sterile and talk about body parts and how they fit together, and how they work, and that’s fine. That is one layer of truth, it’s your sex ed. There are so many other layers of truth that give really essential meaning and breadth and depth to an understanding of healthy sexuality.

That is going to be different for each parent and each family, but it’s needed. In the book, it’ll talk about how amazing our bodies are, and that each of us is made differently, and that is incredible. It makes us each unique.

When you say those things, you can feel that that’s another layer of truth that helps them in their view of healthy sexuality. When they come across pornography, or other unhealthy sexual messages, they’ve got that extra layer of truth, and there’s so many other layers of truth that you can talk about with God, based on your own specific belief systems.

Do Your Children Know Your Values And Beliefs?

That’s, actually, one of the other unique things about this book. It’s written for parents to put their own values in. The studies show that is what children want, they want to know what their parent’s values are.

A lot of books about healthy sexuality that are out there, are written from the author’s point of view, their own beliefs. I happen to think my beliefs are pretty awesome, but they’re not your beliefs, as a parent. Some of them might be, but they’re not yours.

Every page of the book is written so that you, as a parent, put your own belief systems into it. This is our family beliefs about these things. These are our values around this. You work together, which also gives that child ownership of those beliefs, of those value systems.

It’s a really unique thing about the book that you really don’t see a lot of other places, but it’s so important for parents to be giving their own values to their children.

Anne: I also think it’s important to talk about in the context of religion, because in the religious experience, you get the chastity talk, you get all of the stuff that everyone’s gotten for years, but they haven’t received the healthy sexuality portion of that.

Strengthen Chastity Discussions By Answering The ‘Why’ Questions And Connecting The Dots

Like why? Really, why do you not want to have sex before you’re married? Why do you not want to masturbate before your married—not masturbate before you’re married, masturbate ever. Why do you not want to masturbate?

The discussion of “chastity” can be so much deeper and more involved, and actually answer these why questions that the traditional chastity talk doesn’t answer. It’s just that it’s bad. Then you’re like, “Well, if it’s bad, then why do we do it when we’re married?”

You know, “blah, blah,” there’s just all that confusion going on. It really helps kids connect those two dots between healthy sexuality, and the things that they are learning in church.

Sherie: Absolutely.

Anne: Yeah. I’m really appreciative that you wrote this. I’ve been using it with my kids, and they love it. They think it’s great. My kids talk a lot about sex and porn. It’s just so fun for our neighbors, I’m sure.

Create A Safe Place For Children To Talk About Exposure

My son, who’s eight, came home and said, “Mom, one of my friends told me that he was able to search for naked women on YouTube, and then he told me not to tell anyone.” He said, “I know that that is a signal that I need to tell someone, so here I am telling you, and I feel really uncomfortable around him now.”

It was just awesome for him to be able to have that conversation, he knew what words to use, because we’d talked about pornography. He knew that looking up naked pictures meant pornography.

The depth of his understanding, and the way that he could talk about it, was only due to the fact that we talk about it all the time. He wouldn’t have had all those words or that ability to express his feelings about what had happened, if it were not a layered, and ongoing conversation in our home.

Sherie: Yes, I love that. That is one of the other things that we talk about in this book, is it actually sets up, preemptively, this safe space for children to talk about exposure, which is so important.

It, literally, goes through, and says, “This is what you’re going to do when you get exposed to stuff, or you hear things. You’re going to talk to your parents. This is how your parents are going to respond to you.” It’s teaching parents and children together, how to create that safe environment, and sets it up, so that children know exactly what to expect, and parents know exactly how to respond.

Everybody Feels Shame But Don’t Let It Stop You From Doing The Right Thing

Anne: We haven’t talked about this, but I’m kind of off the shame wagon and now I’m more like, “I don’t really care about the shame, you work through it.” Instead of trying to eliminate shame, now, with my kids, everybody feels shame. This is what it feels like, don’t let that stop you from doing the right thing.

Sherie: Right, I like that.

Anne: Because I think the shame-elimination thing that’s been happening lately, in the anti-pornography movement is kind of ridiculous. We can never eliminate all shame, so it’s more like, “Let’s normalize it, rather than eliminate it.”

Sherie: I totally agree, and this is one of the things that—there’s questions in the back of the book that help you to know where to go from here, and on the website, as well. That’s one of the things that they talk about. A feeling is an indicator, and if I’m feeling shame, then what does that mean, and what do I do with that that’s healthy, rather than being unhealthy?

Anne: Yeah, you might feel like you want to lie, and you can acknowledge that, but then do the right thing anyway.

Sherie: Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot.

Teach Children That Telling The Truth Will Make Them Feel Better And Hiding Will Make Them Feel Worse

Anne: One of my favorite lines from Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a long time ago, people would call in, and they’d be like, “But I don’t feel like doing it,” and she’d say, “Feelings? Feelings don’t matter.”

I know that they do matter, but, at the same time, we need to teach our kids that their feelings don’t have to dictate their actions, and they can make conscious choices about how they feel, that are healthy, and good choices, to help them resolve negative feelings, rather than make those feelings worse.

Sherie: Right, yeah, absolutely. I, absolutely, agree. Feelings do matter, but we, oftentimes, just have a feeling, and then react, instead of figuring out, “What does that mean for me,” and then how does that fit into this whole situation, and what is the right thing to do in this situation, and how does that feeling fit into that space?

Anne: Yeah, and then helping them with that. You might feel ashamed, and that’s okay, and that’s normal, and everybody feels that. Just because you feel that feeling, and the feeling might say, “Avoid telling someone. Avoid saying something,” doesn’t mean that that is what you do, right?

Anne: Exactly.

Sherie: You might feel that way because you’re embarrassed, and the way to get out of it is to tell the truth. That’s the only way out, there’s no other way out, because if you hide, you’re just going to feel it worse.

Stop Unhealthy Patterns By Processing Feelings, Which Come From Your Thoughts

The thing I worry about  with that one, and this—I’ll just leave you with this, and you can think about it, is because addicts have, I’ll call them mutant feelings, like they feel like they hate their wife, for example, or they feel like they’re being insulted, when they’re not actually being insulted.

Having an addict focus on their feelings usually only makes their narcissism worse, whereas, having them think about their thought processes helps them to realize how abusive their thought processes are.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, is that, if you have an addict focus on his erroneous feelings, he’ll never be able to get out of his erroneous thought processes that cause his erroneous feelings. Do you know what I’m saying?

Sherie: Yeah, and that’s why, I think, we teach our children about feelings. Again, it’s the same issue as teaching them healthy sexuality. If you teach them, then they’re going to be able to process those feelings, and use them—

We recommend Covenant Eyes Internet Filtering & Accountability On Every Device

Anne: In healthy ways.

Sherie: —instead of getting stuck in these patterns.

Anne: I think this whole feeling thing’s really interesting. I’m still navigating it, but you accidentally triggered my soapbox. I need you to know that.

Sherie: That’s fine.

Anne: Very sorry. That’s funny. Well, especially as I talk with more and more professionals in this field, I’m forming all these opinions all the time. Then, my poor podcast listeners, they get to sort through it all as I just think out loud half the time. Anyway, you are awesome. Tell me about the other project’s you’re working on right now.

Discuss Masturbation With Your Child So It Will No Longer Be An Uncomfortable Subject To Avoid

Sherie: I’m working on a sequel to the book, My Body is a Gift from God. It’s, I guess, a sequel of sorts, because the second book is just for parents. It goes into a lot more detail of all the different aspects of healthy sexuality for older children, because this book covers all the aspects of healthy sexuality for children that are very young, like two to six or seven.

This other book will cover a lot of the other details, like when you start talking about how sex works, and masturbation, and all these different issues that come up, and things that you will want to talk to your children about.

It’s written just to parents, and has a lot of role-play like, “This is how I would say this,” so that parents can have that going in. They can read it ahead of time, and know how they want to approach situations with their children.

Anne: When you said masturbation, and other things parents will want to talk to their children about, parents don’t want to talk to their children about masturbation, right? They’re like, “Umm, do I have to do that? How would I even do that?”

That’s awesome, because we need to. Here’s another one of those feelings, like, “Uh, I don’t want to do that, but it’s the right thing to do,” unless we feel comfortable talking about something, it’s going to be really hard to help our kids feel comfortable about it. If we’re super awkward when we’re talking about it, right?

Sherie: Mm-hmm.

Bodies Were Meant To Be Sexual, To Make Babies And To Have Amazing Relationships With Spouses

Anne: The masturbation word was really hard for me to say for a long time. Now, it’s very easy, and sometimes I just yell it out in crowds, just to—

Sherie: Just to mix it up a little.

Anne: Yeah, just to be like, “You know, nobody says this word, so ‘Masturbation’.”

Sherie: Well, here’s the thing, when you do it in a healthy sexuality way, it’s not scary, because what are our bodies meant to do? This is a process, and again, you put it within that value system, so this is what this is for. Our bodies are meant to have children, and to have really amazing relationships with our spouse. This is something that your body is doing, and, like when you have wet dreams, it’s just your body preparing to be a good father. That’s all it is.

When you put it in that context—of periods, and wet dreams, and everything, but when you put it in that context, “This is why we don’t do that outside of that context. This is what it’s for, and this is what the world is going to tell you it’s for. It’s for feeling good, and it’s for doing whatever you want, and that your body’s your own, and you don’t have to—“ like all of those things. When you understand it in the context of the whole picture, then it becomes a whole lot easier to talk about it.

Boys Have A Penis, Girls Have A…

Anne: I agree. I do that with my kids. It has worked well, so far. They’re eight, five, and three, and my daughter says clitoris. She had a little stuffed seal—stuffed animal that had this little part on it, it was just like a little piece of—

Sherie: A seam hole?

Anne: Yeah, and she’s like, “Mom, this is the seal’s clitoris.” I was like, “The seal has a clitoris.” I just think it’s so cool to have kids who I feel comfortable talking about these things with.

Sherie: Yeah, and comfortable talking with you about it.

Anne: Yeah, we all feel comfortable. They know the word “masturbation”. They know the word “clitoris”. They know these words. I don’t always use them in the perfect sense. Like my daughter doesn’t know what a clitoris is for, for example, she just knows that’s where she pees out of, because I couldn’t figure out what the girl name for where you pee out of was, so I told her that it was that. Is there a different word for it?

Sherie: The whole outside of the sexual organ, for a female, is a vulvas, because most people are like, “Oh, the vagina.” I’m like, “Nope, you can’t see that.”

Anne: Because she was saying, “Boys pee out of their penis, and girls pee out of their penis, but girl’s penis is very tiny.” This is what she was telling me, and I said, “No, no, no. Girls don’t have a penis. Girls pee out of their—“ and then the word that came out was clitoris, because I didn’t know where girls peed out of, so that’s what I said. You think vulva would be better?

Sherie: You could say urethra, because that’s the actual tube. Your clitoris is actually underneath, and up inside a little bit more, so it’s not actually visible. You could say the urethra, or the labia, or the outside, or the vulva. My kids use vulva, because that just covers everything. Whereas—

Anne: You pee out of your vulva?

Sherie: I would say, probably, urethra. Your urethra is part of your vulva. Like we say you pee out of your penis, but it’s more than a penis. There’s testicles, and there’s the whole sexual organ, so yeah.

Making Mistakes Is Part Of Parenting

Anne: To my three year old, I’ll be like, “You know what, I made a mistake. I said the wrong word, you really pee out of your urethra.”

Sherie: Boys pee out of their urethra too. Their urethra’s in their penis, and your urethra’s in your vulva.

Anne: Okay. I’m glad we had this discussion to clear this up, because here’s my little three year old going around talking about her clitoris, which I thought was quite cute, but—

Sherie: Yeah, and tell her that, “I made a mistake,” I love that so much. Because how many times, as parents, are we like, “I have to do it all perfect the first time, and I can’t ever make any mistakes,” and then—

Anne: What a cool mistake to make, because, frankly, girl’s parts are really tough for me. I didn’t know what a cervix was until I was eight months pregnant. They’re all up in there, and we can’t see them. I’ve never really known that much about my own parts.

“I Made A Mistake” Are Beneficial Words To Say To Your Children

Sherie: Nobody does, because a lot of women don’t even ever touch it. Like they’re taught, “You got to wash yourself with a rag,” and whatever, so you never actually touch yourself, but then guys are constantly coming in contact with their sexual organs. They know exactly how it works, because it’s right there, and they’re getting feedback.

Yeah, that’s always such a huge issue for women. I know for me, when I became sexually active, it was a big deal, because I didn’t know how all of that worked, because I never saw it. I don’t know what happens inside me when I get sexually aroused. I had to go and learn that, and figure it out. For guys, they know exactly what happens when they get aroused. Everybody knows what happens when they get sexually—

Anne: Yeah. That’ll be a cool conversation I have with my three year old daughter, to be like, “You know what, I made a mistake. I didn’t know, dut-du-dut-du-du.” I think that’s cool.

Sherie: It’s so cool.

Anne: Because I never talk to anyone about my parts, maybe my friends, and they gave me the wrong information, and, here I am, a 40 year old woman, giving my 3 year old daughter the wrong information. That’s awesome, but at least it’s me, right?

Sherie: Yeah. You’re going to fix it. You know, it’s like it’s no big deal.

Gift Yourself With Betrayal Trauma Recovery Books From BTR, Or Join The Club

Anne: Sherie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Again, you can find Sherie at If you go to our page, you can find her book, My Body is a Gift from God. If you’re thinking about last-minute gifts for yourself, or for your she-ro friends, it’s, or you can scroll down to the very bottom to the footer menu, and find the books there.

Quite a few books there that are really good gifts, like My Body is a Gift from God, and Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, and several books for parents that are really good for their children. Also, great gifts for you and your she-ro friends. I tried to make sure that all of the books that I picked were Prime, so that you could get ‘em in two days, so it’s not too late to get some gifts for women in need.

Just one more reminder to join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, to get support that you need through Christmas and New Years, and we will be back on the air January 9th. If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Every single one of your ratings increases our visibility on search engines, and helps women all over the world find us. Scroll down and let us know whay you thought of this episode as well to help others find the information they’re looking for.  If we don’t see you in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, until January 9th, stay safe out there.

How To Protect Young Children From The Damage Of Pornography Exposure

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I’m Anne. Kristen Jensen is here today – one of my friends from the anti-pornography movement. She’s amazing. I’ve known her for a long time. She is the author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read aloud books, including the best-selling Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids. We use this in our home; it’s one of my favorite books for kids.

I’ve known her for a long time. She is the author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read aloud books, including the best-selling Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids. We use this in our home; it’s one of my favorite books for kids.

She is the founder of, a website dedicated to helping parents empower their kids to reject pornography. Recently she was invited to testify before the Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee on the public health crisis of pornography. Kristen is a frequent guest and speaker on podcasts, radio broadcasts, and is a leader in the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation.

Personally, she is a mother of two daughters and a son who is waiting for her in heaven. She lives with her husband in the beautiful state of Washington. She earned her BA in English Literature and her MA in Organizational Communication. Welcome, Kristen!

Many Parents Ask, “How Do I Check Cookies?” But, That’s Not Enough Anymore

Kristen: Hi Anne! Thanks for having me!

Anne: I LOVE Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr! Kristen gave me a copy and I’ve been using it with my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old. It is so helpful. I am so excited to announce that Kristen has donated three copies of Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr to our listeners. So if you have a child ages 3-6, you need this book! Please go to our Instagram profile @betrayaltraumarecovery. Follow us on Instagram; tag three of your friends who also have children ages 3-6 so they can be made aware of this really important resource for kids. The giveaway will end Wednesday at 6 pm. You will be notified via private message on Instagram.

Tell me, Kristen, why did you write a book about pornography for young kids?

Kristen: I saw that there was a problem. It took three years and then as I was speaking, I had parents of younger children–because our original book is for ages 7-11, even though therapists have used it for adults; the principles and concepts are for any age–ask if I could write a book for younger children. It took my breath away the first time I was asked that! Younger children are on the internet so we need to safe guard them and train them how to respond to bad pictures–to recognize what they are and have a plan of what to do when they see them.

Anne: I have your Can Do Plan taped to my 8 and 5-year-olds wall.

Kristen: Awesome! This is from the original book. It is great! The first three steps from the Can Do plan is to help children know exactly how to respond when they see it: close your eyes, tell a trusted adult, and name it when you see it. All these things help the thinking brain reject pornography. The last two, the D and O, are distract yourself and always keep the thinking brain the boss; I explain more about it in the book; these things help children deal with the shocking memories that pornography creates. These memories come back to haunt them and sometimes lure them back into curiously going and looking for pornography. It’s important to deal with the initial exposure and then the memories that this exposure creates.

Will Talking About Pornography With Children Make Them More Curious?

Anne: I talk with parents all the time. One of their concerns is that their kids are too young and that they shouldn’t talk about pornography with their kids because they are worried about curiosity and such. My response usually is that there is a generation of people who did not talk about sexual addiction, who did not talk about pornography, who did not openly speak about masturbation in their homes, and they are now a generation of porn addicts that my listeners are married to. We know that the “not talking about it” doesn’t work. I’m not sure what the consequences of talking about pornography with my children will be; I don’t know what they will be 30 or 40 years out, but I do know that the other way does not work.

So I am willing to say that this open dialog and layered communication about mental health, about sexual health is so important for our kids and this is a very appropriate way to begin the conversation and talk about it. I’m pretty comfortable talking about it because this is what I do for my job. I’m a professional in the industry. But for people who don’t say the word “masturbation” six times a day like I do, they may wonder how they do this. Your books are perfect for this. What do you recommend is the right age to begin talking about pornography?

How Do We Protect Our Children From Pornography?

Kristen: I always have been taught to not answer the question I am now going to answer! The question is, “How old are your children when they get access to the internet?” If they are 3 years old when they get access to the internet, then 3 is the time to start talking.

Anne: And the answer is not, “Then I will never give them access to the internet!” Access is going to happen whether we like it or not.

Kristen: That ship has sailed; that horse is out of the barn! However you want to say it, it’s gone. It’s all around. Everyone has a portal to porn in their pocket. This is a story that was told by a sex addiction therapist who did everything she could to protect her young son. She sent him to a private Christian school, hoping it would be safer than a public school. A classmate of his looked at his cell phone–at age 6!–and showed him pornography on it. We are living in a crazy world that allows access to this kind of material to children. T

he only way we can deal with it besides doing what we can with filters and having the family come together to work together to protect ourselves from pornography, the only other way I can think is to inoculate. We cannot control exposure. That is why inoculation started with small pox. A few could get rid of smallpox, to eradicate it from the earth because we went around and inoculated everyone. As soon as you start living in the real world, getting out of the bubble, we are going to have to face this head on…and help to make children safer as a result.

Women Who Are Married To Porn Users Want To Protect Their Kids From Exposure To Pornography

Anne: Our listeners live in the real world because they are dealing with their husband’s sex addiction. They are very aware of the pain and the chaos that this creates. They are trying their best to protect their children.

Kristen: I was just at the solar eclipse. During conversations, people ask what I do. When I tell them, you can tell they are clueless. They do not have a clue how pervasive this problem is. I tell them stats on marriage, divorce, kids being involved…it made me realize once again that so many people don’t even have an awareness of the problem. 

Anne: It’s not on their radar or they think it’s just out there and their kids are great kids and would never do that.

It’s Normal For Kids To Be Curious About Pornography, But It’s Not Healthy For Them To View It

Kristen: That’s a real mistake because kids responding to pornography is the most natural thing in the world. It’s normal. We are all biologically excited by naked pictures. We are wired to biologically respond. We are basically trying to teach a child to do something that their brain is very curious about. This is why we say this in my book–how it can feel like the pull of a giant magnet. We own that, we admit it. This is where there is so much safety. We don’t shame the child. We teach the child the truth that this can make them really curious. And that it can also be like rat poison. It tastes really good to the rats but once they start eating it, it begins to destroy them.

Anne: My son is eight now and I have been talking to him about pornography since he was 3. Now he will say things like, “Mom, why would people look at pornography if it’s so bad?” I say, “Because it makes people feel really good.” It’s the same thing with heroine. People do drugs because it feels really good! When they’re doing heroine or looking at porn they’re not feeling the consequences of their actions. They aren’t understanding it’s affecting them and everyone else; it just feels really good.

Kristen: This is exactly what we say in the book. It’s one of the questions that comes up: Why would people look at this? It’s because in the short term it’s exciting.

Anne: Right. So in your new book Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr includes 5 saftey rules to help children stay safe from sexting and sextortion. Can you talk to us about these 5 safety rules?

Kristen: We have realized that since the publication of our first book, one of the things that has become a big problem is sexting; but not only sexting but sextortion–where children, teens, and even adults are groomed online–where they get in a situation where they think they are in a friendship or a romantic relationship and they give pictures of themselves that are compromising at the very least. When pornographers (my word) get these pictures, they call it sextortion, meaning they are threatened if they do not produce more graphic photos. They are threatened with telling parents or putting it on the internet; they are told to give money…the FBI says it is the leading growing problem among kids right now. This is why we included these safety rules.

  1. If someone tries to show you bad pictures or videos, look away. Remember to turn, run, and tell.
  2. If you ever see a bad picture or video, never show it to another child. There is research that shows that this is exactly what kids do. They show it to another child. This is rampant. When I first saw a pornographic magazine, who did I show? My little sister! So this is the most common thing for little kids to do. They need to be taught, outright, and specifically, never to show a bad picture to another child. 
  3. They should never let someone take a picture of them without their clothes on. If someone ever tries that, they should tell their mom or dad or a trusted adult.
  4. Never take pictures or videos of yourself without clothes on. Kids these days are unfortunately producing pornography. They are producing child pornography.
  5. If you see a bad picture or video and it keeps popping up in your mind, go and tell mom or dad or a trusted adult; say, “I need your help to make the bad picture go away.” We have specific instructions in the back of the book on how to help children minimize those shocking memories of exposure to pornography.

Last fall I was invited to testify at a Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee about the public health threat of pornography. With me was Mike Edwards who is the specialist on internet crimes against children for Washington state. He gave a lot of grim statistics. Then he told a story about a video they have of an 8-year-old boy who made this video of himself having sex with a 4-year-old. He put this video on the internet. Kids are doing this and it’s in greater and greater numbers. If we don’t want our kids to fall victim, we need to teach them.

Anne: Like I said before, I use this in my home and it is so helpful. For my listeners, Christmas is coming up and I want to tell you a funny story. The Porn Kills Love t-shirt from Fight the New Drug came out awhile ago. I bought one for my then husband who was “in recovery” and he wore it on Christmas. His family told him I had ruined Christmas! 

I would like all of you to go to our books page and purchase the books right now. Begin talking about it with your kids. If you’d like to ruin Christmas, give it to someone for Christmas!!

Kristen: The first year we sold Good Pictures Bad Pictures I thought there would be no sales during Christmas. The absolute opposite happened. Our sales went way up! And then I started hearing how people were buying them as gifts! What better gift than to provide the gift of protection from something so destructive. I think it makes perfect sense.

Anne: So this is my goal: everyone get the books and a Porn Kills Love tshirt and wear it on Christmas! Let’s start a revolution! We’re going to take back Christmas!

So Kristen, besides your books, what other resources have you created to help parents?

How To Help Protect Children In Your Community From Pornography

Kristen: we have lots on our website We have three free guides. One is a quick start guide to begin giving people an overall foundation of information. We then have the smart parents’ guide which is for those whose children have already seen pornography or for proactive parents who want to prepare for the eventuality; it helps parents face this without shame and freaking out; it helps them to know what questions to ask their child. It is very helpful in this regard.

Then we have a kit for people who want to take this to their community. We have an outline of a presentation to do your own presentation in your community or school or church. We are trying to help everyone in every situation, all parents who want to help their children. Whenever we do a blog, we usually have some kind of free download, whether it’s a series of questions or conversation starters, questions to ask a school administrator or a principle about how safe the school is; what have they done to protect kids from porn exposure; have they trained kids about what to do if they see pornography on the school computer or school grounds?

Anne: So for our listeners who are interested in getting more assistance, Coach Rae runs a group called How Do I Protect & Heal My Children?

Coach Rae and Lori Rubinstein, a child advocacy expert, will be speaking. Please register! Also, Coach Sarah is very good about coaching women about how to talk to their children about their dad’s pornography addiction and some of the things that happen around that….such as if police have been involved, criminal action, etc….Coach Sara is really good about helping you navigate helping your children in these situations.

I am so grateful you are here today and that you wrote these books, Kristen. Again, if you are interested in purchasing these books you can buy them on Amazon. They are Good Pictures Bad Pictures and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. or you can go directly to to get more infomration. Remember we have this giveaway on Instagram. Go to @betrayalrecovery and tag your friends who have children and we will announce the winners through a private message!

Thanks for being here today, Kristen.

Schedule a support call with one of our trained APSAT coaches, trained by the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists; they also understand emotional abuse and can help you navigate your husband’s emotional abuse…or the abuse from your ex-husband. Many women are still being abused by their ex. 

If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Each rating increases our visibility on search engines and helps women who are isolated and who need help to find us. Until next week, stay safe out there!

Teaching Children Personal Safety To Avoid Sexual Abuse

I’m interviewing Kimberly Perry, author of Say “NO!” and TELL! A Creative View of Personal Safety for Maisie (girls) and Daxton (boys).

Her professional underpinnings for this endeavor include 15 years of teaching and coaching in public and private schools in California, Michigan and North Carolina while specializing in preschool to 5th grade. I also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and a Masters of Arts in Teaching.  After teaching Personal Safety to over 1000 elementary students, she was inspired to write the Say “NO!” and TELL! book series.

Inspired After Discovering The Heartbreaking Statistics On Ever-Increasing Instances Of Child Sexual Abuse

Anne: Why did you write a book about personal safety for young kids? 

Kimberly: While serving as a Health and Physical Education Teacher in the Michigan public school system, I taught Personal Safety for over 1,000 elementary students and wondered why I had not been taught these prevention strategies when I was a child. The need to empower children with self-care skills and people safety tools is critical for well- being.

My professional underpinnings for this endeavor include 15 years of teaching and coaching in public and private schools in California, Michigan and North Carolina while specializing in preschool to 5th grade. I also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and a Masters of Arts in Teaching. How can it be that at least 2 out of every 10 girls and 1 out of every 10 boys are estimated to be sexually abused before their 14th birthday ( Every eight minutes, Child Protective Services responds to a sexual abuse report ( According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abuse before the age of 18. 

Kids need to be empowered with Personal Safety skills and tools so they know what to do when a questionable encounter happens. 

Kimberly: Personal Safety is learning how to keep your body safe or sexual abuse prevention for kids. Kids learn to say NO to unsafe touches by protecting their bodies with boundaries to prevent or stop sexual abuse. The Say NO! and TELL! books empower kids with Personal Safety by using a THREE-phased approach ™ based on a proven and straight forward sequential method.

  1. Teach body awareness with basic hygiene (bathing), health (nutrition) and safety (swim) concepts
  2. Explains boundaries with more unique safety concepts such as Internet, stranger and people safety.
  3. Introduce Personal Safety – prevention awareness of safe boundaries for private parts.

Boundaries define personal property and allow us to take care of it by setting limits on others and internal limits within ourselves. The boundary of saying “NO!” defines ownership, lets others know that we exist apart from them and we are in control (Cloud 29, 43-44).

Part I has a story about Maisie Monarch or Daxton Dolphin where the characters embark on a journey of growing up and preparing for a migration trip. Parents teach them Personal Safety before they go and ask open ended questions throughout the story for you to define your family terminology and values. Part II of the book has 8 scenarios, in which I researched the predator and turned those tactics into life skills for kids, such as privacy, private moments, guard your eyes and ears, safe secrets, bribes, threats, safe games, etc.

The solutions section has numerous tools like a quiz, a Personal Safety Family Plan, resources and a removable section for grown-ups with stats and the THREE-phased steps in details with practical ideas.

Talking Point #3: Grown-ups need to empower kids with Personal Safety early because kids develop a natural curiosity about the human body when they are young. Say NO! and TELL!  is a creative faction, read-aloud book for grown-ups to read to their young kids age 5 to 9.

What Is The Best Age To Begin Talking To A Child About Body Safety?

Kimberly: Kids develop a curiosity about the body and the gender identity parts early and is a natural part of developing body awareness. Pre-school through elementary school age (3 yrs. to 9 yrs.) is an important time to teach kids about private parts (using real anatomical words), boundaries, safe touches which feel comfortable, “your body belongs to you!” and it is okay to say “no thank you” to any touches, and privacy is okay too as you grow independent. Only safe caregivers may see, examine or clean your private parts, while you are really young, when you still need help.

In the Say NO! and TELL! books, each child-friendly concept builds on the others forming a strong foundation of wellness, while being considerate of preserving innocence and balancing naivety with wisdom. Please note this book does not cover reproduction, which is saved for an age-appropriate time at your discretion.

Grown-Ups And Kids Need To Have A Personal Safety Family Plan In Place For When They Encounter A Questionable Encounter

Anne: Talking to kids is important, but what should they do when they are exposed to a questionable encounter?

Kimberly: A basic Personal Safety Plan includes: memorizing address and phone number, a family code word or “danger” plus a check-in rule. Kids need to know how to dial 911, understand who are the safe givers and trusted grown-ups and make a list of the top five to contact, TELL if ANYONE ever tries an unsafe touch or does anything inappropriate with private parts, and keep telling until it stops.

Also, kids need to memorize (SAY NO, GET AWAY, TELL and KEEP TELLING):
Remember to say “NO!”
GET AWAY if you can!
TELL someone
KEEP TELLING until it stops! Take a stand!

Say NO! and TELL! books can be purchased at You can see more about the program at

How Do I Protect & Heal My Children From My Husband’s Abuse?

How Do I Protect & Heal My Children?
3 Hour Class
Led by Coach Rae
REGISTER – Saturday 3PM Eastern (USA) – March 17, 2018
Limited to 12 participants (minimum 6)

For most women reeling from the trauma of sexual betrayal, one concern tends to rise above the rest: “How can I protect and heal my children from the impact of what’s happening?” The good news is, you’re not alone in your question. The better news is, we’ll help you find answers!

During this highly-interactive group session, join Coach Rae and special guest Dr. Jill Manning for a three-part exploration on this important topic:

  • First, as an experienced marriage and family therapist, one who specializes in treating betrayal trauma in partners of sex addicts, Dr. Manning will introduce the primary factors involved in creating a safe and healing environment for children in the aftermath of sexual betrayal.
  • Next, you’ll be invited to ask YOUR specific questions, scenarios that relate to your unique family dynamics. During this process, you’ll also listen and learn from other women living in similar situations. 
  • Finally, Coach Rae will close with 30-60 minutes of group coaching time, designed to help you identify your individual takeaways and goals moving forward—action steps to integrate the information and awareness you’ve received from Dr. Manning.

Originally designed for women whose relationships DON’T survive the impact of addiction and abuse, “How Can I Protect & Heal My Children?” is also appropriate for women who are healing within their recovering relationships.

Here are some of the questions commonly asked by women in this support group:

  • What if my kids are exposed to porn while they’re with my husband or ex-husband? How can I prevent this from happening in the first place?
  • My children are misbehaving in ways they didn’t before discovering my husband’s addiction. Are those two things related? And if so, how do I deal with that?
  • As a mother, I know what my kids need to heal from this family trauma. The problem is, my husband or ex-husband disagrees completely, which has resulted in even more conflict. How can I convince him, or what if I can’t?
  • Are my requests on this topic reasonable, or am I overreacting? Are my expectations realistic? What boundaries are appropriate under these circumstances?
  • Should my kids be in therapy? If so, how do I choose the right therapist?
  • I can’t afford specialized help for my family. Is any family counseling better than none at all?
  • My partner blames me for our separation and/or divorce—because I’m the one who finally said, “enough is enough.” Now, he’s telling the kids that I’m the reason our family isn’t together. How do I deal with that?
  • Though my husband is no longer acting out sexually, his attitudes toward me are still very abusive. How can I protect my children from internalizing this example of marriage and family?
  • I hate that my kids have been hurt by their father’s actions and my responses to it. How can help them heal from this family trauma?

For more details, email Coach Rae at

How To Protect Young Children From Harmful Pornography Exposure

We LOVE the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. The giveaway is over! Thank you for all of those who participated. Our winners were announced on Instagram! Thank you so much for helping us get the word out about this amazing resource and also helping women in pain find hope with Betrayal Trauma Recovery!

You can also get a FREE Poster To Help Children When They Are Exposed To Pornography
Text: CanDoPlan to 44222

Then reply with your email and a pdf will be sent to you!

How Good Pictures Bad Pictures Came To Be A Resource For Protecting Children From Pornography Addiction

Protecting kids became Kristen’s mission after she received a late-night phone call from a traumatized mother who was dealing with the tragic consequences of her porn-addicted son. That’s when she linked arms with Dr. Gail Poyner and spent the next three years writing the Amazon #1 best-selling book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Since then, Kristen has become a frequent speaker and guest on podcasts and radio broadcasts. She’s a member of the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation. She actively blogs at where she helps parents empower their kids to reject pornography. 

After hearing tragic stories of kids getting exposed and addicted to pornography, Kristen wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures; Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids to fill a much-needed resource gap.

“It all started when I received a late night phone call from a traumatized mother who told me about her 17-year-old son. He had been sexually molesting his younger siblings—imitating the pornography he’d been viewing from the time he was in elementary school. The next morning I searched for a children’s book to explain the dangers of pornography addiction and provide an action plan for how to keep kids safe online.  But I couldn’t find any. So I linked arms with my dear friend and licensed psychologist, Dr. Gail Poyner and we wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures to fill this much-needed resource gap.” 

Learning How To Check Cookies Isn’t Enough

Anne:  Why did you start Protect Young Minds?

Kristen: I started Protect Young Minds to begin educating parents about the risks of their young children seeing pornography.  So many parents are not aware of how young  children are when they begin seeing it and how accessible it has become.  Also, I was writing my best selling book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. I have a friend who called me one night and started pouring out her heart.  Her 17-year-old son was molesting his siblings and was involved in pornography. When she called me and told me this sad, tragic story, because not only did he have to leave the family and go into a program and be prosecuted, the younger children had to go into counseling–and I realized what a huge trauma this was. When it got out to their friends, the kids became more isolated because no one wanted their kids to play with them. When I woke up the next morning after hearing her story, I realized there needed to be a resource to help parents teach their young children about this danger.  So I went on line and did searches and I could not find anything.  I began doing research and felt compelled to write this book. I thought, “Even if it’s for my own future grandchildren, there needs to be a resource out there.”  Happily, it became a number one bestseller on Amazon and it’s growing and growing and getting out there!  We are really happy that it is helping so many families.

Anne:  It’s on our bookshelf and sometimes we pull it out and talk about it.  My son talks about his frontal lobe and if he’s throwing a fit I’ll tell him his frontal lobe isn’t working.  He’ll say, “Let me reattach it!” So is your book for kids or parents?

Kristen: Both! I have parents tell me all the time that they learn as much from it as their kids are because what we are trying to do is start a conversation.  It’s a read-aloud book that gives parents a script.  You and I inherited scripts from our parents to deal with certain problems. When I was a child and I got bullied or teased, my mother had a script that she got from her mother. She told me, “Kill them with kindness. Don’t let them see this bother you.” This is a script that she learned from her mother. But we don’t have any scripts about the reality of internet pornography. Parents don’t have a script in dealing with this so I thought, “I will write a script.”  It took us 3 years.  It models a proactive approach so that parents get in there and begin the conversation, hopefully before their children are exposed or soon after so that they know how to process it and respond.    

Kristen:  The first year we sold the book I thought our sales would plummet in December because who wants to think about this during the holiday? But actually they went up a little because people were giving this as a gift. I’ve heard from so many that they give this as a gift. I want to tell you a few of the things we do in the book for parents.There are five things: 
 It defines what pornography is.  If a child has a simple definition they can recognize it and have a vocabulary to tell about it.

It gives kids a plan for when they see it. We have the CANDO plan.  It includes closing their eyes, telling a trusted adult or parent about the exposure, naming it when they see it so they label it and recognize it. How to deal with the memories. Pornography creates shocking memories.  Many of us can still remember when we were first exposed and can call up the memory if we want. 

The third is it gives children the power over porn by teaching them how their brains react to it. You were telling me about your son and his frontal lobe.  Kids learn about their thinking brain and their feeling brain.They learn to keep their thinking brain in charge so that pornography can’t hijack their feeling brain.

Number four is that it protects kids from addictions of all kinds. Although we are focusing on pornography, the addiction process is very similar, no matter if you have a behavioral addiction like pornography or gambling or video games or a substance addiction.  It’s really important for children to understand about all addictions and how they can avoid them.

Number five may be the most important. It unifies the family to fight the dangers of pornography together by getting it out in the open.This is a common danger for all of us.  We need to fight this together. You aren’t going to be alone. Kids whose parents aren’t talking about this are fighting this alone, whether or not the parents know it. These kids are fighting alone and many are losing the battle.  So let’s pull together and help our kids and hopefully Good Pictures Bad Pictures will help parents to begin this conversation and empower their kids with the skills to fight the effects of pornography.

Anne: Absolutely. If we want to protect our kids, the number one thing we can do is be in recovery ourselves. If we need to be in recovery, we are attending our meetings and we are becoming healthy. For me, this is a process and I am still in the process and I am on the path but it is a process.

The second thing is to be able to talk about anything. Your book helped me to have a script to talk to my kids. One day we were watching some simple show on Netflix and my son said, “There isn’t any pornography in this show!” I said, “Nope.There’s not. It’s a great show!” This is something he could say and we could talk about.

Kristen:  If you can talk to a 4, 5, or 6 year old about pornography, when they are 13 it’s not going to be awkward. If you wait until they are 13, it is going to be more awkward. We’ve been asked to write a junior version. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Kids is geared towards kids ages 7-11. Although many have read it to their young children, many parents have asked for something simpler because every 3-year-old is on the iPad.  We’re coming out with this in February 2017:  Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr:  A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds.  It’s a picture book, all good pictures, a simplified version of our original book.

Anne: If you’d like to read more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures, you can visit Kristen’s site

If you’d like to purchase Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, visit our supply page:

Kristen, thank you so much for being on our show today!

Kristen: It was wonderful talking to you Anne.  I’m so glad for people like you who are getting out there to help others with this problem, helping women to recover from betrayal trauma, and then in turn helping their children get healthy. It’s a challenge in today’s environment. There are a whole lot of problems because of pornography, as you know.

Anne: Yes. My family was destroyed because of pornography. It’s a mess. So many women all over the world and our children and the addicts themselves are dealing with the effects of it constantly in our daily lives. We have true heroes who are healing from the trauma and setting good boundaries to keep themselves and their children safe from the behaviors of active addicts and learning to heal.

Kristen, you are a true hero! Keep coming back.  It works when I work it.  

The Best Way To Protect Your Family From Pornography Addiction

One of the first gut-reactions to finding out about your husband’s pornography and/or sexual addiction is to focus on internet filters. However, too much reliance on filters can lead you feeling frustrated and disappointed when pornography slips through the cracks. Installing internet filters are an important step towards safety in the home, but no number of filters will stop an addict who chooses to seek it out. Filters, though a helpful tool, are not the final answer to solve this “problem.”

Boundaries To Ensure Internet Safety

Though you cannot control another’s resolve to seek out pornography, you can control how you will respond to this breach in your home’s and family’s safety. Healthy families make and hold boundaries. Rather than controlling access to porn with an internet filter, you’ll have more peace and better success as you teach your family how to respond when they see pornography and what the family boundaries are regarding pornography in the home and on their phones.

Online filters only go so far because pornography is available everywhere. The second your child or husband has access to a smartphone, you have no control over what they view. Blocking pornography at the DNS or router level may work well at home, but tech-savvy sex addicts will find their way around it. Children are also able to get around blocked websites on their phones through apps and a multitude of other ways.

Protecting Your Family Online – Internet Safety

As a parent, you do have the right to limit your child’s internet access. Limiting access to apps is one step you can take for the safety of your children. Here are some ways to protect your children through online filters. 

1.  Limit access by turning on Google Safe Search.
2. Limit access by filtering from the router level.
3. Disable your child’s ability to download new apps.
4. Watch out for Instagram, Snapchat and other dangerous apps.
5. Follow Protect Young Minds and Educate and Empower Kids.
6. Set parental locks on TVs, gaming devices and other internet portals.

There are many, many other ways to protect your children online. Internet safety could literally become a full time job. But above all, talking consistently and openly with your children about the dangers of pornography is the best defense. The safe conversations you have with your children are the best filters.

Learning How To Check Cookies Will Not Solve Your Problems

In my experience, being in recovery myself is THE BEST WAY to protect my family from pornography. SAL 12 Step has taught me to have conscience contact with God everyday, to put God in my center, and to surrender my concerns to Him. God can then direct me to know exactly how to protect my children according to their unique needs and circumstances.

Boundaries In The Context Of Blocked Porn

Since there is no way to block all porn from your husband or children, perhaps it’s time for a shift in how we think about protecting our children online.

Most people immediately turn to finding a way to block porn. But installing an internet filter will not keep your child from being a sex addict. Similarly, it won’t keep your husband from practicing his addiction.

Shame – the pain of feeling flawed – is at the heart of compulsive behaviors. So the best way to protect your children is to raise them in an emotionally healthy home. Going to a 12 Step yourself and getting qualified therapy are the best ways to create a healthy, home environment for your child.

You may think that you are emotionally healthy, but what criteria are you using to measure yourself and your home against?

If your husband has a problem with pornography and you are not in recovery, your children are not safe. Your husband will exhibit emotionally dangerous behaviors that will put your kids at risk for pornography use:

1.  Shame – your husband’s anger, irritability, emotional distance will leave your children feeling unloved, unwanted and confused – ripe for compulsive behaviors and addiction.
2. Secrets – your children will grow up in a home where some topics aren’t discussed or if they are brought up, someone gets mad or someone leaves – these unhealthy behaviors put them at risk for addiction.
3. Co-dependency – if anyone in your family suggests to your child that he/she is in anyway responsible for their father’s anger (don’t make Dad mad! or other unhealthy behaviors), it can teach them that they are responsible for the emotions or behavior of others. This is not true. Teaching kids that they can somehow control other people’s emotions is damaging.

But What About My Husband? How Do I Check Cookies on His Phone?

The simple answer is: you can’t.

And you don’t want to.

Many women set a boundary and say to their husband: “No porn allowed in the home. If you use pornography, you must leave the house.” I set this boundary myself. But when it came to enforcing it, I didn’t have the strength to actually follow through. I’m so grateful that the police did that for me when they arrested my husband for domestic violence.

The problem with that boundary is that checking up to make sure your husband isn’t looking at porn or flirting with other women is the exact opposite of healthy. If you want to be healthy, consider setting boundaries around his behavior rather than his porn use.

Here are some boundaries to consider:

1.  If my husband is angry, irritable or isolates, I will separate myself and my children from him until he regains my trust.
2. If we are in the car when this happens, I will sit in the back seat.
3. I will not have sex with my husband unless I feel completely emotionally safe and emotionally connected with him. I will not initiate or agree to sex as a way to get him in a better mood, keep him from being angry or to get him to notice me.

The reason you want to learn how to check cookies in order to find out who he’s been talking to or what he’s been watching is because you want to feel safe. But catching him cheating or viewing porn won’t actually keep you safe. Only boundaries will. I learned that the hard way. 

If your husband has cheated on you, or if you’ve experienced your husband’s emotional infidelity in it’s many forms, the best way, the only way to keep yourself safe is to be in recovery yourself. For me, when I wasn’t in recovery, I wasn’t strong enough to set boundaries, my connection with God wasn’t coherent enough to understand or do His will. In short, I wasn’t in a place where I could actually protect myself and my children.

Now I am.