Welcome to our fourth post in this series! If you missed the beginning, here is a link to the Introduction.
In our last post, we focused on the fact that us mothers, equipped with a crazy fantastic natural ability to protect our young, cannot protect them if we are unaware of a threat.
P*rnography consumption (and all of the issues stemming from it) is probably one of if not the biggest problem facing our society today.
In this post we are going to look deeper and find out why we (as strong mama bears) are so blind to the threat of p*rnography.
To do that we must look at our beliefs.
Now, as I go into this, I just want to give a shout out to Annie Grace and her landmark book, “This Naked Mind.” Annie taught me about beliefs and how they guide and form us. What I am going to teach you is from her work and yes, she gave me permission to share with you.
What are beliefs? Our beliefs are everything that we “know” to be true. How do we form those beliefs? Well, through our personal experiences and “lived life.”
When you and I were growing up, we learned “how life works” through what we saw and experienced around us.
As we paid attention to certain people and certain situations, we formed assumptions, which became conclusions.
For example, let’s say that you were innocently walking along the road one day and a dog ran up to you and started attacking you, biting you hard on the leg.
Your personal experience with that dog would turn into a logical observation that dogs can harm.
You would unconsciously become afraid whenever a new dog was near you, assuming that you could get bitten again.
So your conclusions/beliefs would be: dogs can attack. They are to be feared.
Your identical twin sister could have had a totally opposite experience with dogs. She could have ONLY had positive interactions with cute puppies, causing her to assume that all dogs are fun loving.
Her beliefs about dogs would be formed from her history and would be totally different than your belief about dogs.
Neither are exactly formed from reality, but rather, the conclusions are formed by the created reality from interpretation from experiences, observations, assumptions and such.
You could say that a belief is our sense of reality. It is a thought or understanding about something that we hold to be true from what we have experienced.
And wowsa, you know this. Our beliefs seem true. They seem real. They seem factual. But in reality, beliefs are not exactly reality. They are something that we have constructed from our experiences.
Let’s look at this process in regards to our children.
When I gave birth to my son, Eric, I entered into that new relationship. I cared for him. Night and day.
As he grew, I watched him. I saw how he interacted with the world. I did not consciously form a belief about Eric, but I learned about him by watching him and interacting with him through the days, weeks, months and years. One thing that struck me: Eric had a pure heart. I was incredibly impressed with that heart of his.
One time there was a huge tornado in our city and we were huddled in the basement. Eric was probably seven years old and he spoke about death, dying and going to heaven. He looked at me with his pure eyes and he said that dying was sort of like a chore. It was something we “had to do” but our reward was worth it!
When he became a fifth grader, he was old enough to become an altar boy. My son loved being an altar boy and he served many Masses with his friend, Luke Downing. (Now Fr. Luke Downing.)
Eric would talk to me about saints. He would pray the rosary with us as a family. He had many good friends. He was funny and fun to be around.
What are beliefs? They are stories that we create in our own mind, according to what we see, experience and live.
My belief about Eric: he was a strong, well-adjusted child. He had a lot of insight into the spiritual world.
I hung out with a group of amazing women. We were proud of our children and how they were turning out. Together, we more or less created an understanding of who we were as strong Catholic women and what we stood for. Our children represented our “way of life.”
We formed a “snow globe of beliefs” about our families. It was good. Strong. True.
My husband and I were asked by a priest to talk about being Catholics and raising Catholic children. As I wrote that talk and as Russ and I presented it, I knew our blessings. I was grateful for our family.
All was right in my snow globe of belief.
********************Enter Eric Scott Doerneman*********************
Hi, I’m Eric, Lori’s oldest son.
I love everything my mom just talked about. However, there is a problem with how she is setting up this scene and that's what I'd like to talk about...and this is actually why Mom and I are such a good dynamic...we both bring our perspective.
Her beliefs were formed from her experience of raising us kids. Because of that, she was blind to what was really going on in my life. She had no idea about all of the experiences that I was going through, growing up, hidden behind the scenes, away from her.
I'll start off by saying yes, I was raised in a beautiful, good Catholic family, I had great friends and I had many amazing teachers and good Catholic priests that I looked up to and that I loved.
However, what Mom had no idea about was that around the age of 8 or 9 years old, I was flipping through late night television and I had a glimpse of a p*rnographic ad.
And I did what most people probably do when there is something that they don't know how to handle; I flipped away immediately. Then I waited a little bit and went back.
What happened after that is I kept thinking about the ad. So a few weeks later, I stayed up late again, looking for that advertisement, just to see if it was still there. I was curious. It made me feel something...it's hard to describe, but it grabbed a part of me, an internal part of me, that was excited and VERY curious, and other new emotions that were coming up in me.
As I kept going back to that ad and kept experiencing new feelings, new sensations, new emotions, I had many questions. I knew my parents were good Catholics and I wasn't dumb. I knew they focused on God and prayer and I figured they had no idea what this stuff was really about.
So, at the time, I had this new best friend named "Google" and I knew I could ask it anything. So I remember literally searching for something so innocent: Beautiful Women.
And the nature of the internet combined with an unfiltered computer gives way more than you want. It overdelivers.
So what I was exposed to that first night was way more than I could handle in my life at that point. I experienced this new wave of emotions; I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but it was exciting and it was feeding this curious part of me, an almost edgy, rebellious part.
I didn't know how to process any of that; all I really knew was that I wanted more and I also knew that I would never tell my parents about it.
So, over time, I kept going back to the computer. I kept searching. I never told my parents and later on, in junior high, just joking around with my friends, I found out that everyone I knew had been having similar experiences.
What that did for me: it NORMALIZED what I was doing. It made me feel like my experience was an okay, normal thing that all of my friends were also going through.
Beyond this normalization, I want to also discuss this: How in the world did I find p*rnography in my big Catholic family?
I want to paint this picture for you. I am the oldest of eight and my parents were busy with the next several children so their attention was divided.
Our family got a laptop computer and it was very easy for me to say to my mom, "Hey, can I go watch a movie in my room?" And because of her beliefs, she had NO REASON to believe that I was going to be doing anything other than watching a movie.
We also had a computer room that had a door to it so I could literally shut the door and search for anything I wanted; I would say, "I am working on my homework, don't bother me, please," and if someone did come in, I could go to another tab and hide what I was doing.
At the end of the night, I could delete the browser history. I grew up in this age of technology and I understood it. My mom did not. So it became very easy to hide things from her.
So that was what was happening under the surface in our home. My mom saw this beautiful family and all of this awesome stuff; I was hiding a completely different narrative from her.
And that is how our story went on, for years, until I was a junior in high school where she actually walked in on me. And that was the moment where our two belief systems, our two snow globes, came smashing into each other.
BACK TO MAMA LORI:
So I hope you can see how I built my belief system on what I could see. And my experience with my son was almost ALL fantastically positive.
I knew he was just a good kid, helping with dishes, doing homework, playing football. He did not act "differently." He didn't wear a sign that said, "I am viewing p*rnography."
Plus the internet age was booming. We were excited to get a new computer for our family.
Can you see how the “duality of availability” happened in our life?
Take a moment and digest all of this. Our goal is to help you to awaken to the “Duality of Availability” in your family’s life.
Know that p*rnography is defined as images/pictures that were designed to evoke an arousal in the viewer. The problem with us moms: we don’t think our 8 year old could or should have an arousal reaction. That doesn’t compute in our mom brain. Our belief system about our innocent child doesn’t allow that to enter.
Well, here’s what I have learned: if our children have normal brains and if they see a sexual image, even if it is of cleavage or a scantily clad person, they will have a response to it. Again, this is NORMAL.
Our job as parents is to help our children process their reaction.
So I invite you to reframe your thinking, which is the cool part about beliefs. Once you consciously become aware of something, you can shine a light on it, which allows you to change your thinking.
Instead of thinking:
My child is not sexual, they would never look at that or be aroused by something like that.
Reframe that into something like this:
My child is human and as such, he or she is a sexual being. No matter what age they are, if and when they see something that was intended to cause arousal, a totally new feeling of arousal will most likely be evoked within them.
That new thought will lead to this:
It’s my job to help them acknowledge that as normal but also help them understand the dignity of the human person. We were not created to be used for visual pleasure. (That separates the body from the soul. Our body and soul was created to be united.)
As you begin to take all of this in, take a deeper look at your home. Create an environment that is truly supportive of your children.
If you need assistance, take the “Not in my House Challenge,” a free mini course where Eric will help you get filters on your electronic devices.
In our next post we are going to share a cool concept with you, which, as a parent, you will love love love.
Link to Post #5
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