How Paying Attention Protects Our Children from Porn

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In my recent interview with Lisa Shanklin of Educate Empower Kids, we focused on one of the topics emphasized in my book Life After Lust – protecting children from pornography. In the chapter entitled “How Paying Attention Protects Our Children from Porn” and in this interview, I suggested 4 critical ways that parents can pay attention to their children, thereby protecting them from pornography.

Check out the article and the book for more information.

For a powerful video with additional suggestions for parents, click here.

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

What I Need from You Right Now: An Appeal to America by a White Father of Black Sons

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This is not as much a political post as a personal piece.

Today is a sad and confusing day for me. I sit stunned by the surprising news that Trump won the Presidential election last night. This news has stirred in me both sadness and anger. I am in protective parent mode. As a white father of black sons, I fear the racist influence that may increase in this country, infecting and emboldening others with hateful, hurtful lies.

Initially, I felt repelled from my friends who voted for a racist President. I was torn by the fact that many who voted for Trump love Christ like I do. As a white father of black sons, I am indignant. Yet, I am also aware of the destructive potential of the emotional cocktail brewing in my heart. If I’m not careful, I will lash out with the same attitudes I renounce. Not attacking violently, but verbally. In spite of this internal battle, I refrain from reacting in revenge, knowing that such responses never build up the kingdom God wants to create through me.

I have some requests though. As a father of black sons, I need a few things from you.

What I need from you right now is….

Understanding, not defensiveness.

Empathy, not fact checking.

Compassion, not condemnation.

What I need from you right now is this: That you would mourn with those who mourn. That you would take a moment to imagine how this political news affects those oppressed by prejudice. That you would step inside the mind of a parent who fears the future maltreatment of their children. My wife and I face such fears, now more than ever. We are not alone in this.

Most of all, what I need from you right now is that, regardless of your political views, you don’t give hatred a foothold in your heart. If our new President incites injustice, stand for what is right. If his rhetoric reinforces racism, resist with love. Regardless of the leanings of our new leader, don’t align with attitudes that demean and divide.

I will work hard not to retaliate against racism in the ways I denounce. I will not let my anger disunite me from others. I will work hard to love all people, even those whose votes may cause my family undeserved suffering. In the words of Martin Luther King, “I have decided to stick with love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book

Why & How I Protect My Children from Pornography

dad-909510_1280Recently I was asked recently by Kristen Jenson, author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures, why I fight pornography and how I protect my own kids. Today the article was published on the Porn Proof Kids blog. I hope you find it encouraging and I would be honored if you would share it with others. Here it is:

Therapist & Ex-Porn Addict Rallies Parent to Protect Kids

By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Turlock Talk Tonight on Protecting Children from Pornography – Live Broadcast & Video

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Tonight I have another great opportunity to present to parents about protecting children from pornography at Crossroads Church in Turlock. For those who do not want to brave the rain or who want to watch from a distance live at 7pm (PST) or by video recording later, here is the link:

Dangerous Access: Protecting Children from the Path of Pornography

Tonight’s presentation is aimed at a Christian audience, from Christian (and science) based perspectives. All adults are invited to watch and the content will benefit all.

I hope to see you there!

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Talking to Teens about Porn – Seminar a Success! (And great video)

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Last night we had the privilege of speaking to local teenagers about pornography and how to protect themselves from it. When I spoke to the guys, I started by asking them about their plans for their lives…college, marriage, career, etc. Then I shared with them the science and research about how pornography addiction can seriously hinder those plans, due to how it harms the brain, relationships, and other areas of life.  I frame it this way because I want teenagers to see down the path of pornography and decide for themselves if its a path they want to take. I also want them to hear a positive message so they can see that this is about more than just avoiding pornography. That is why I name this talk “Healed for a Purpose”, because it is more about the life they can live free from pornography addiction; a life of freedom, choices, connection, and love. Of course, I also equip them with resources on how to get there because living free in a porn-filled world is not easy for teenagers who want to avoid it. Last night I ended our meaningful time together with the following video:

I take these talks seriously and it is my hope and belief that they are making a difference in young lives. It is my hope that all caring adults will do their part to let teenagers know that pornography use can be dangerous and that life without pornography is filled with greater possibilities.

For teenagers caught in addiction to pornography, there is hope. I have have created and lead a program for teenagers called YouthSTAR that is helping young people find freedom in a supportive, safe, accepting, fun, and confidential environment. I am grateful to provide one of many great resources for teenagers and it is my hope that those who are in need will find us. For that reason, I would be honored if you would please share this post with those in your networks.

Thank you.

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Preparing for Your Proud Parent Moment (And Upcoming Central Valley Pornography Protection Seminars for Parents)

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Last week my 6 year-old son was with some friends when they came across nearly nude “art” that was displayed publicly. The experience was followed up with a conversation in the car with their concerned mother, who talked openly with them about what they saw and the need to be careful and look away. My son confidently responded, “Oh, I know. My dad works with that stuff. He taught me that too.” When I heard this story later that day, my heart swelled with pride. We recently started reading Good Pictures, Bad Pictures together and this was a sign that the message was sinking in.

I wonder, are you having similar conversations with your young children?

It is likely that all of our young children will someday be exposed to much worse than nude art. Maybe it will happen on the school bus or at a friend’s house. Are your children ready to defend themselves? If the answer is “no”, I urge you to start educating yourself today.

For all concerned parents, here are some upcoming presentations I am providing for our local community on this important topic:

Parent Seminar – December 2 at North Fresno Church (sanctuary), 6:30-8:00pm – Adults only

Teenagers and Up Seminar – December 9 at North Fresno Church (third floor), 6:30-8:00pm, separate seminars at this time for females and males.

Parent Seminar – January 5, Crossroads Church in Turlock (more info to come).

It is my hope that someday you too will have your proud parent moment, when your heart is reassured that your children are prepared for their inevitable exposure to pornography.

For announcements of future seminars and resources, please follow our blog.

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children

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My friend and fellow writer Marcy Pusey has just published a new book! For two days the Kindle edition is available for free. Check out this great resource and please share it with others.

I just got mine and look forward to gleaning from Marcy’s wisdom.

Check out the book here: Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children

The Moment YOUR Child Sees Pornography: How to Prepare

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Every child will see pornography. After years of studying the impact of pornography on children and its widespread availability, I am convinced of this. Still, most parents optimistically hold to the “not my child” belief. But that’s not what the stats tell us. And with perpetual technological advances, the numbers will only increase. As parents, we must prepare for our children to see pornography.

But how can we prepare? I regularly present publicly on this topic, in an attempt to both warn and prepare parents for what may lie ahead in their children’s experience with pornography. There any many options in the area of prevention, yet, this still does not guarantee protection. As I share in my presentations, we must protect our children both externally and internally.

While I am unable to share all of my suggestions now, let me direct caring parents to a few great resources:

Children, Teens, and Parents – LifeSTAR Resource Page

What Teens Wish Their Parents Knew When Addressing the Issue of Pornography

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids

The Guideline: A Parent’s Guide to Addressing Pornography with Children

Why Schools Fail to Protect Kids Online (free download of 10 Things Every Parent Must Learn About Their Child’s Digital Education)

Educate Empower Kids

Internet Safety 101

Purity Works

I know education is a crucial start and I’ve heard stories like this one that reveal this:

“Just wanted to say thank you for this night, this topic, this information. On Forest’s recommendation, we bought the book “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures,” read it with our kids, and learned that at 9 (daughter) and 7 (son), our kids have both already viewed pornographic images. This allowed us to have a discussion we would not have even thought to have! Thank you!”

If you live locally and want to attend one of these presentations, stay tuned (follow blog) for announcements of future talks. The next scheduled talks are December 2 (parents) & 9 (teens and up) at North Fresno Church. Also, for teenagers addicted to pornography, I have created a treatment program based on my expertise in this field. YouthSTAR of the Central Valley is a great resource for struggling teenagers. Additional YouthSTAR program are available in other locations.

There is much we can do to both protect and prepare our children for their fight against pornography. For continual information and updates on this Movement, please join us on Facebook and check out our friends at the National Center of Sexual Exploitation. Also, I would love to hear how any of this information has benefited you and those you love. It is my courageous conviction that we can change the course of history for our children. Let’s start today.

*Originally posted here

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

Dear Daughters

Dear Daughters,

I know today is a confusing and difficult day for you. Today we said goodbye to your Daddy, celebrating his life as a community. This has been hard for all of us. We loved your Daddy so much. And I know you did too.

I know for months you prayed that God would heal your Daddy. We all asked God for this too. We watched his sickness worsen and just this week his body failed. For reasons we do not know, your Daddy passed on from this world into the next, and that saddens us all. We don’t understand why this happened the way it did. What I know your Daddy would tell you if he was here is that even though God did not heal his body, God comforted him in his pain and has loved him and your family in so many ways through all of this. God’s love remains and will never leave you.

This morning at the grave-site was the last time I asked God to heal your Daddy. Just as I prayed that God would raise your Daddy to life, I suddenly realized that maybe your Daddy was praying the same prayer for us. As he rejoiced in God’s presence, I wondered if his one wish for us was that we too would be “raised to life”.

You may wonder, “how can we be raised to life when we are still living?” Your Daddy was a man who lived life to the fullest. He died at age 40 but he lived with more passion, courage, and faith than many people experience who live much longer lives. He set an example for all of us, showing us that trusting God is a marvelous adventure. I am reminded that all of us die and what matters most is not how or when we die but instead how we live in the time we all have here. Driven by God and his values, your Daddy inspired all of us. We too are “raised to life” when we live out the timeless values that fueled your Daddy’s life. It is my hope that remembering these values will inspire you to live more fully the lives you were created to live.

Daddy’s Values

I urge you to remember the qualities that you loved about your Daddy. I remember him as courageous, faithful, humble, disciplined, loyal, loving, generous, encouraging, healthy, joyful, and compassionate. In a very real sense, when we live out your Daddy’s values, it is like he continues to live among us. This is one way you can keep him alive in your hearts.

The Bible says that “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Your Daddy’s life brightly reflected all of these essential values.

Faith

Your Daddy was a man of bold faith, trust, and conviction. He knew who God was and who he was in God’s eyes. For these reasons, he lived a courageous life, following God wherever he was meant to go. That’s one reason your family experienced so many adventures, because your Daddy trusted God wholeheartedly. In this life, all of us are tempted to stay comfortable and seek personal pleasure above God’s will. Your Daddy found his pleasure in God’s purpose.

As you live your lives, may you discover God’s glorious purpose for creating you. Each of you have unique gifts, personalities, and purposes. Your Daddy faithfully followed the path God had for him. You too will come alive when you find what you were created to do and do it wholeheartedly, like your Daddy did.

Hope

Out of your Daddy’s faith, came a steadfast hope. He had hope for himself and hope for others. It seems so often he believed in others more than we believed in ourselves. Your Daddy did great things for God in this life because he trusted and hoped that something beautiful was to come. Whether serving in Haiti, training for challenging events, maintaining his health, or doing “devotions”, your Daddy continued to hope for something better to come.

Your Daddy’s greatest hope was in God’s presence. Sweet girls, God is always with you. Even though the events of this week may feel hopeless, God is not done with the story. May the memories of your Daddy remain with you and guide you as you watch how God gloriously unfolds the rest of your years on earth. Despite the pain in the present, there is great hope for the future.

Love

Your Daddy’s was a passionate lover of both God and people.

One reason why losing your Daddy hurts so badly is because he loved you so deeply. As we remember your time with your Daddy and look at the pictures of him with you, it is obvious that he adored you and your mother.

He also loved God and others. When I think about your Daddy, I’m inspired to serve selflessly, to pray passionately, to lead with love, and to persevere through pain. His example showed us all how to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

I know I am not your Daddy. Still, I commit to being one of many godly men in your life who will love you, encourage you, cheer for you, carry you, play with you, read to you, and tell you great stories about the Mighty Man who loved you so dearly. As we remember your Daddy together, his love will live on in us.

The Future Finish

As time passes, all of us will continue to remember your Daddy. It is normal to cry and mourn and there is no time in the future when you will be expected to stop missing him. I hope that in those moments of sadness you will reach out to those who love you and find comfort for your hurting hearts.

All of us, including your Daddy, wait in anticipation for the day when you will finish your race of life and your Daddy will be waiting to embrace you, his dear daughters, as you cross the line into his arms.

Until that day, I look forward to seeing all that God does in and through you. As these lyrics say, we will all “watch and see and we will be amazed” what God does with your lives as you run forward trusting in Him, just like your Daddy did.

“The Glorious Unfolding”

*Watch the video through to see the special message at the end

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun

We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

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