For the first 10 years of my marriage, my husband hid a secret sin.
He struggled with pornography and I had no idea. While I was busy with babies and then toddlers and juggling a part time job, managing our home and laundry and you know, life–he was fighting a hellish private battle.

Fear kept him in a quiet prison.

Self-Control — 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge via The MOB Society

He was terrified if he admitted his struggle, he would lose his family. I was the proverbial good girl, a rhinestone Jesus pin-wearing wife who would be destroyed by his struggle. Although he would succumb to temptation in his weakest moments, he never stopped fighting. He also kept quiet. When we had a son, things changed. My husband didn’t want this cycle to continue. In a desperate move, he decided he wanted freedom more than he wanted anything else. He confessed. And it destroyed me.

But broken things heal stronger. And sometimes starting over is better than never finishing. We began the long road to healing, reconciliation and redemption.

Teaching our sons to say yes to God

The moment he spoke the shameful words, he had his first taste of freedom. Because that’s what happens when we shine the light on darkness. It scatters. And with every word, through counseling and tears and long talks and resources, he experienced freedom like he didn’t think possible.

He said yes to freedom. He said yes to honesty. It’s changed the way he fathers his son. It’s changed the way I mother our children. Because there is nothing too shameful, too secret, too horrible, that God cannot heal. God has used this brokenness and we are raising our son differently because of it. Instead of pretending like our 12 year old son won’t be tempted some day, we proactively educate him about self control. Saying these things out loud–talking about these private issues has created an atmosphere of honesty in our home; no subject is taboo or off-limits.

Because nothing my son does will make us stop loving him. Even his sin. But silence shackles us.

My husband’s biggest regret all these years later? That he stayed silent for so long. He has said over and over, if I had known how freeing it would be to speak it out loud, I would have. I would have said yes to God sooner.

Here are 4 Ways To Encourage Honesty and Self-Control With Our Sons:

  1. Be honest with them. My husband is just beginning to share his story with our son. Our boys need to know we have struggles, we sin. We need forgiveness.
  2. Be open about hot topics. If we don’t talk to our boys about sex, pornography, girls, someone else will.
  3. Be forgiving. Our kids are as human as we are–create an atmosphere of forgiveness.
  4. Be vigilant. Our sons are growing up in a world much different than we did. There isn’t the restraint we once had over these issues. It’s not only available, it seeks our sons out. Don’t be afraid to explain to your son why you have Internet passwords and monitored screen time.

To read more about raising our sons with intention and to read more about how God performed a miracle in my marriage, check out my new book: Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough.