Sexting teen

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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DarkJedi
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Sexting teen

Post by DarkJedi » 09 Mar 2014, 07:21

I really am stuck here, friends. A couple weeks ago we discovered our 15-year-old son had been sexting with his girlfriend (from a good, faithful LDS family). We live in a different town and ward from them and they do not see each other frequently - mostly stake activities, although he has been to her house for supervised parties on two occasions. The sexting is textual, not photographic, although he has taken shirtless pictures of himself. Neither of them have phones, this was done using tablets and on media such as Facebook messaging. We talked to the parents of the young lady who also investigated but she was smart enough to delete the messages. We copied and sent stuff to them. As a side note, we have been concerned for a couple of months that they are too into each other, in too deep, or basically too close for 15-year-olds.

Our initial reaction was to talk to him and tell him why this is wrong (which I think he already knows), but that forbidding contact was probably unenforceable . Her parents' reaction was to forbid contact except at church. Our son got info from mutual friends as to why and immediately blamed us. We did have a conversation that it was not us sexting, that even if we hadn't drawn their attention to it they would have eventually discovered it anyway, and that our plan does not include no contact - that part is coming from her parents. Despite the fact that he has been quite surly, we have endured these past couple of weeks knowing that there have been very brief amounts of contact, such as when she borrowed a friends phone. This hasn't been bad - she admits her parents are right in that they are too close for people their age and sexting is not a good thing. Then, this weekend, she somehow has some access and has made contact - and much to our surprise and chagrin, they sexted again.

As a side note, we have gotten some unsolicited feedback from his seminary teacher that his attitude has markedly changed over the past couple months, and his grades have slightly dropped at school (but this could be part of sports participation).

We're really at a loss here. We do believe the no contact thing is not enforceable, we can't even block his tablet from our home network because he would just go on the neighbor's wide open network. We do believe she is a nice girl from a good family and are not totally opposed to the relationship, although we agree that they are too close for their age. And while I do believe the church's stance on porn is too rigid (actually I just think they talk about it too much and less youth would look at if they didn't), I also believe sexting is not a good thing. Suggestions?
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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On Own Now
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by On Own Now » 09 Mar 2014, 10:21

DJ,

Well, tough situation... I'm sorry that you are going through this. I know that the thoughts and prayers of this community will be with you.

Advice is hard to give in a situation like this. There is no magic bullet that is going to solve it. Every option has trade-offs. One thought that comes to mind is to separate out the behavior from the relationship. Forbidding contact, as her parent have done, probably does more to encourage the sexting; Teens love to get away with what is forbidden. Maybe letting it be known that, hey, we all like the girl and glad you two like each other... and then as a separate issue take on appropriate social interaction. Maybe if it is seen as having nothing to do with this particular girl, but about behavior, you might be able to have some constructive dialog. This is just a thought, though... I'm no expert.
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opentofreedom
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by opentofreedom » 09 Mar 2014, 11:50

arghhh, I just lost my post.
Anyway, what i said was basically, I don't have the best advice as our oldest is only 13. But I really like OON's advice.
One thought that comes to mind is to separate out the behavior from the relationship. Forbidding contact, as her parent have done, probably does more to encourage the sexting; Teens love to get away with what is forbidden.


I DO think it important not to shame the behavior. It is something they DID not WHO they are, and even admitting to your son on how normal wanting sex etc.. is at that age. There is no shame in it. But behaviors have consequences and those consequences could be painful and last for a long time. The guilt could later turn to shame later in life. I was thinking it might be beneficial for you to figure out your own feelings and possible fears in this situation. For example, what is the worst thing that will happen from this, why does it bother you so bad. What shame or guilt does it pull up from your past if any? Fear can cloud our judgment in how we handle situations. I have noticed when I release the fear I can handle situations so much more clearly. I don't even know if that makes sense and I hope I didn't come accross as "Know it all" because I don't know anything..haha That is just my 2 cents and I also know when you are IN the situation it is hard to see the forest for the trees.
Namaste: the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Roy
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by Roy » 09 Mar 2014, 12:32

I will tell you what my dad told me. "two people that (romantically) love each other and spend sufficient time together unsupervised will have sex." i.e. "love + time + opportunity = sex"

I like the analogy because it doesn't place blame or make it seem like I was untrustworthy.

I also appreciated that my dad didn't try to tell me that what I was feeling wasn't true love or that true love will wait until marriage, etc.

I still remember that and respect my dad for showing such respect for me at a young age.

I know that for me, just the realization that I might have something to offer to girls (romantically speaking) that they might actually want was a huge revelation. It was even later that I gained the confidence to believe that I had something worth offering to LDS girls (that had previously seemed somewhat aloof and unattainable).

I hope my experience helps in some way.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

convert1992
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by convert1992 » 09 Mar 2014, 12:52

DarkJedi wrote:And while I do believe the church's stance on porn is too rigid (actually I just think they talk about it too much and less youth would look at if they didn't), I also believe sexting is not a good thing.
Having deconstructed a lot as you have, I will concede that there are a few areas of life where the Church is right to assert traditional values; and these are areas of honesty, being a law-abiding citizen, and basic law of chastity principles. Sexting is so destructive that it isn't even really a classic law of chastity issue, but instead borders on anti-social behavior (depending on what is being texted and other factors). In these situations even liberal Mormons have to apply traditional values even though it may seem like you're going backwards philosophically. Being in the mission field, I see this kind of situation with liberal parents outside the Church, and I don't know of anyone who doesn't revert back to good ol' traditional principles.

I agree that the stance of porn is too rigid, but that is primarily an issue of the Church applying it too broadly for mature adults. For example, there is no reason why mature, spiritual Latter-Day Saints can't go into an art gallery and view nude or erotic art. Enlightened people naturally find hard-core and commercial porn to be offensive and lacking in artistic merit.

Roy
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by Roy » 09 Mar 2014, 13:42

convert1992 wrote:Sexting is so destructive that it isn't even really a classic law of chastity issue, but instead borders on anti-social behavior (depending on what is being texted and other factors).
I'm not sure what was written or how long the pair have known each other but I don't believe that I could support a statement that all sexting is destructive and anti-social. Would it be better in your estimation if such statements were written in a note, or said on the phone, or in person. I'm trying to better understand your position.

Thanks.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by DarkJedi » 09 Mar 2014, 14:14

Thanks for the input. We do hold to traditional values and do believe in the law of chastity and we are 99.9% sure that nothing physical has happened, it's only been talked about. They have known each other for a few years, and have been a "couple" since last fall (since her parents won't allow he to date until she's 16, etc.). We do not believe that masturbation falls under the law of chastity (a rather big step for my TBM wife, actually), although mutual masturbation probably does. Sexting is a more gray area, more akin to porn. Like masturbation, I realize that most young men have purposely accessed porn (which is blocked on our home network, BTW) and I realize that such access is borne of curiosity and sexual development. I do not believe a few looks at porn, especially the softer variety, is harmful. I suppose then, that an instance of sexting would also not be harmful but our concern is that it's an almost every time thing. I do agree with what each of you has said, particularly in relation to shame - I'll leave that to certain members of the Q15 (with further clarification by Dad).

As a side note, I discovered this because we had noticed this change in attitude. I was also aware that this young lady sometimes played teenage mind games with him and was trying to show my wife what kinds of things she says to upset him when we discovered the sexting. While the sexting is a two way street (it takes to to tango), it is most often (but not always) initiated by her.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Ann
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Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Sexting teen

Post by Ann » 09 Mar 2014, 15:40

DarkJedi wrote:
As a side note, I discovered this because we had noticed this change in attitude. I was also aware that this young lady sometimes played teenage mind games with him and was trying to show my wife what kinds of things she says to upset him when we discovered the sexting. While the sexting is a two way street (it takes to to tango), it is most often (but not always) initiated by her.
My thought is to not put the sexting front and center. Talk to him about the whole relationship and what it prompts him to do, how it makes him feel. I wonder if he himself would say that he's happy. Or is he just attracted, keyed-up, vulnerable, hormonal, etc. I think even teenagers have a feel for what a "healthy relationship" for their age would be. Good luck.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Roy
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by Roy » 09 Mar 2014, 15:53

Ann wrote:My thought is to not put the sexting front and center. Talk to him about the whole relationship and what it prompts him to do, how it makes him feel. I wonder if he himself would say that he's happy. Or is he just attracted, keyed-up, vulnerable, hormonal, etc. I think even teenagers have a feel for what a "healthy relationship" for their age would be. Good luck.
I like this approach. Where else would he get good balanced information on positive relationships?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

common twit
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Re: Sexting teen

Post by common twit » 09 Mar 2014, 16:29

Dark Jedi, I feel your pain bro. To be honest, i do not think anything you so or do will change him. When we caught my son smoking, we put all kinds of restrictions on him. We even went as far as to nicotine test him randomly. He failed every time but once. Today he is 23 years old and smokes! I do not mean you should not try. One mantra that I used with my kids is that it is okay that you made a mistake. You just have to face the consequences now.
The actual change has to come from inside your son. You can give advice and guidance all you want but he will only hear what he wants to hear. Mostly I think you just have to love him regardless.
I have failed as a father so I dont know if my advice is any good. However, having made a mess of my own life and am slowly working out my own issues, i know there is hope for everyone.

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