Talking to Parents About Sexual Addiction
by Sharon Cipriano-Galbreath, MA, LLP
In today's world of instant gratification and cyber tecnologhy,
parents are faced with concerns of internet predators as well as addictive
sexual materials. Addictive sexual behaviors in children and young adults is
a rapidly growing issue for families and for communities.
As always, the family is the foundation upon which a child's basis of successful
functioning and growth begins. How the family unit is formed and how this unit
functions is a major determinent in a child's self development. Feelings of self
esteem, safety, and the ability to self-soothe are primary to a child's ongoing
development and protecting the child from sexual addictions.
The following are some important points to consider:
- Parents and care providers need to be respectful and watchful of growing children.
- Offer children matter of fact information and clear answers about sexual development.
- Offer love, firm boundaries, and gentle interactions, which assists the growing youngster to believe and depend upon parents. Trust that their evolving sexual feeelings are normal and can be controlled and enjoyed as they mature.
- Guiding growing children past the pitfall of internet pornogaraphy and providing information about sexual identity contributes to open conversation and discussion that is needed for young adults to feel positive about themselves.
- Being aware of the child's school and peer experiences and offering support and personal engagement when children or young adults are bullied or targeted by ridicule.
- Allowing young adults to talk openly about sexual preferrence and how they view themselves is cruical to their need to try ideas on in a safe manner without parental judgement. Direction, yes. Judgement, no.
- Parents stating clearly their personal and world view, part of teaching values for daily living. Kids listen closely to information from parents. Children want to understand and be part of the accepted family ideals.
- Parents need to watch, listen and be respectfully present to their children. This will ensure a close bond and open communication.
- Children and young adults who do not isolate themselves from family and peers have less inclination or opportunity to become sexually addictive.
Patrick Carnes, a leader in treating sexual addictions, outlines four factors that ultimately become part of sexual addiction:
- Self image: How children perceive themselves.
- Relationships: How children perceive their relationships with others.
- Needs: How children perceive their own needs.
- Sexuality: How children perceive their own sexual feelings.
These perceptions usually become core beliefs. These conclusions that the child makes about himself and others can and mostly do govern the choices and behaviors that are then made in the child's adult life. These ideas or core beliefs are the underpinning of sexual addiction.
The most important factor in sexual addiction is the overwhelming impression of abandonment. Fear of abandonment is present in all addictions. Abandonment means being unwanted or unworthy, which frequently translates to the child as being bad or unlovable. Because of this belief a child or young adult may decide that parents or others cannot be trusted or depended upon. They may believe that no one will love them, now or in the future.
These children or young adults usually feel desparately lonely, unguided, and unprotected. The individual begins to look for something that will make them feel better—something that is always present and will provide comfort that can be depended upon. Food, pornography, drugs, alcohol, and excessive masturbation are some of the choices the struggling individual may make. To feel secure for the sexual addict is to be sexual—being sexual without relational intimacy. This pattern of behavior that begins early in childhood influences and may become a habit. The individual feels and believes that they cannot live without the addictive behavior or the addictive habit. Behavior that began as a way of self-soothing becomes a shameful and debilatating issue. This is so for all addictions.
More information concerning obessional thought and brian chemistry in sexual addicts is being studied at this time. Sexual addiction is treatable and requires intervention and treatment acceptance. Treatment acceptance is when the addict comes to the understanding that their ability to control their behavior is limited and they are able to reach out to another for direction and assistance. This is a huge step and deserves major support from friends and families. Many sexual addicts have been abused as young children and this abuse has fused the idea of sex as nurturing in adulthood. In sexual addiction recovery, each person must unravel their personal core beliefs and begin to look at themselves and others with compassion and respect.
There are groups for sexual addicts that can be accessed on the internet, along with the most recent imformation. Groups and treatment providers and programs are available. Search Google for sexual addiction groups and treatment. You may call my office at 269.382.5343 for more personal, local contacts.
Articles by Sharon Cipriano-Galbreath, MA, LLP