Children learn things quickly for many reasons, but one is they act like sponges. You may not think your kids pick up what you want them to know because they might seem preoccupied. But don’t be fooled. They’re picking up lessons faster than you realize.
Listen to their play, and you’ll discover what unhealthy patterns they’ve learned from multiple sources, not just you.
The kids notice specific patterns when a parent struggles with addiction, like porn, alcohol, or drugs. And, without understanding whether they are positive or negative, they adopt them into their behavior.
Look at 5 unhealthy patterns a porn addict models for a child.
1. Technology time matters more than interpersonal interaction.
One sign of an addict is the inordinate amount of time the person spends with technology. Interrupt that time, and you might feel the addict’s anger or frustration. When a parent ignores other family members to spend time on their smartphone, tablet, or computer, a child emulates that. Friends might come to ask the child to play with them, and the child refuses, preferring to be like dad or mom and spend time alone with technology.
2. Critical of another’s appearance.
Porn addicts lose their ability to discern reality from fantasy. They see the actors dressed in specific ways, thin to the point of emaciation, perfect complexions, and more. Because of the time spent watching porn, this look becomes normal. When the porn user looks at his wife, who’s been chasing kids all day, working long hours, and preparing food to feed her family, she won’t measure up to this abnormal reality. Perhaps she’s just had a baby, and her body hasn’t had time to regain its prepregnancy weight and toneness. A porn addict often criticizes his wife’s appearance, pointing out any perceived negatives.
3. Time doesn’t matter.
Any addict tends to lose track of time they devote to their addiction. Why do you think casinos don’t have windows? Talk to any addict in recovery, and they’ll tell stories about how their addiction robbed them of their ability to gauge time accurately. I remember the first time we installed a video game on our home computer. We had a fun new game that I loved. Until the day I realized I’d spent three hours playing it. My kids kept asking when we would eat, and I told them in a few minutes–two hours earlier.
4. Be irritable.
When an addict can’t access his addiction, emotions escalate. Often, the addict becomes extremely irritated over minor issues. Children might be reprimanded for the smallest infraction. Rather than learning to correct their behavior, they learn to use harsh language whenever something isn’t exactly right in their opinion. Children who grew up with this often refer to it as “walking on eggshells” around the addicted parent. They learn to disappear to avoid the verbal lashing.
A person who exhibits an entitlement attitude doesn’t care who or what gets hurt. They want what they want when they want it. This attitude disregards the impact on others in their family. They might be aware that their actions cause pain, but they don’t care. A child observing this learns that his or her wants are more important than anything else. It’s acceptable to do whatever is necessary to meet them, no matter who gets damaged in the process.
The Bible teaches us a different way to live.
Read Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 to learn how to live with others in an honoring, loving, and understanding way. In your journal, jot down what you learn about a healthy lifestyle. Then, look at your life. What needs to change, be abandoned, or forgiven?
You choose whether to teach your children healthy or unhealthy patterns.
If you or your husband exhibit these negative characteristics, you can change. God created our brains with neuroplasticity, which is the amazing ability to adjust, learn, and form new behaviors no matter our past.
Don’t be like Joe, who lost his family because he refused to acknowledge or give up his addiction. Though he loved his children, the addiction and his ego felt more important.
Get help. Connect with a Christian counselor or therapist.
If you are the wife of a porn addict and want to talk with someone, please reach out. I promise to listen to your heart and help you identify your next step forward.