If you’ve ever struggled to know how to talk with your children about pornography, harmful media, body image, and other difficult topics, you are not alone. In fact, many parents wonder how they can talk about these unsavory issues with their children without harming their children or creating unhealthy curiosity.
As much as we’d all like to protect our children from the daily tsunami of trash flowing out of screens small and large, we must develop better approaches to navigate these rising waters. Instead of wringing our hands in despair, we can square up to the reality of our visual overload and learn how to talk with our children about how it affects them.
Sister Linda A. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, challenged parents and leaders to “counsel with children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding.” She further counseled that “[children and teens] need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.”[i]
On Saturday, September 19th from 9am-1pm, there will be a conference in St. George, Utah that addresses these very concerns. Nationally recognized authors and experts will present a variety of workshops to teach parents how they can talk with their children and protect them from the harmful impact of dangerous media.
The Utah Coalition Against Pornography and a committee made up of concerned citizens from Southern Utah have teamed up to present this conference to parents, church leaders, and community members (full disclosure: I am the committee chair and a workshop presenter). This is the third time St. George has hosted this conference with attendance at previous conferences reaching close to 1,000 attendees.
In addition to workshops for parents, there will also be workshops for teens and young single adults. Lexi and Lindsay Kite, founders of Beauty Redefined, will open the conference with a keynote presentation on how we can recognize unhealthy beauty ideals in media and help girls and women embrace the truth about themselves and their bodies.
There will also be a breakout session for teens led by Clay Olson, founder of Fight the New Drug, where he will discuss how young people can protect themselves from the impact of pornography and learn how to build healthy relationships with media.
I will be presenting a workshop for young singles on how they can discuss the problem of pornography in their relationships. Many young people wonder if looking at pornography is really cheating and need tools for how they can successfully discuss this delicate subject.
This conference isn’t just for those who are struggling or directly impacted by pornography. It’s a prevention conference and a wonderful learning opportunity for all individuals in our community who want to be better informed on how to address these issues in their families, churches, schools, and community.
There will also be a panel discussion to address how clergy can support individuals in their congregations and a separate panel discussion featuring women who have worked through the betrayal of a loved one’s addiction. If you’ve ever wondered how to help someone who has been betrayed or affected by betrayal, these workshops can make all the difference in your ability to be helpful.
Harmful media surrounds us but doesn’t have to harm our relationships or us if we know how to respond to it. This is a learning opportunity that help you be more effective in talking about these things with your children, your neighbors, and those within your sphere of responsibility.
To register for the conference, visit www.ucapconference.org and reserve your tickets. The conference is free for students.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves as the primary chorister. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.