ADHD and Pornography
ADHD and Pornography
If you have followed the blogs recently, you know we have talked about: BLAST
Bored, Lonely, Angry, Afraid, Sad, Stressed, Shame, Tired.
I want to add a couple more to the "A" of BLAST. They are ADHD and Abuse.
Today let’s look at ADHD.
We have 8 children (ages 4 to 23). Recently, one of our youngest children was diagnosed with ADHD. We have been doing tons of research on what that means for us moving forward and just learning how to best help them.
We are learning that ADHD is not a negative, but a positive. Folks who have this just see the world differently, have lots of energy, are able to accomplish a great many things in life because of that excess energy, and on some level are just generally more empathetic/sympathetic. In essence, I am learning that ADHD is a gift!!
However, there are some negative ramifications of having ADHD.
As we have researched some of the negative impacts of ADHD, I learned multiple things, but I learned 3 specific things as it relates to ADHD and this blog and pornfreeshamefree.
ADHD folks are prone to addiction
ADHD folks struggle with emotional regulation
ADHD folks are vulnerable to shame because they feel so different than those around them and think something is wrong with them
If you or someone you love has ADHD, issues of addiction can easily crop up. With the accessibility of technology the last 20 years, combined with the amount of explicit content there is available online, those who struggle with ADHD are very vulnerable to not only addiction, but pornography addiction.
To learn more about the dangers of explicit content online, check out our home page and scroll to the bottom of the page to see some eye opening stats: pornfreeshame.com
This part of the blog post is particularly relevant to parents. We must take necessary measures to appropriately protect all of our children from the dangers of the online world, and this truth is only multiplied when that child has ADHD.
In addition, to being prone to addiction, those with ADHD need significant help in the area of emotional regulation. Why is this so important as it relates to pornography. Pornography and masturbation, as well as other aspects of sexual sin, can be used to help the one who has ADHD regulate their emotion. Unfortunately, this does not train one how to regulate one’s own emotions appropriately or how Jesus can meet them in the midst of those emotions. It just causes someone to escape from their negative emotions, and the escape is what regulates the emotion. If I have ADHD and I am prone to addiction, then pornography addiction in this technology driven sex saturated culture is a distinct possibility.
Not only that, if I struggle with emotional regulation, and porn is what helps me regulate that emotion, then I am stuck, and I mean really stuck.
If that’s me, then what do I need? I need to be able to let the Spirit empower me with self-control in technology. I may need to set some extreme boundaries to limit my exposure to technology. I need someone or a group of people or all of the above to teach skills for emotional regulation, as well as helping me learn how to take those emotions to Jesus so He can meet me in the midst of that. When I do my podcast next week on this, I will elaborate more fully.
I also mentioned that ADHD folks are prone to shame. The reason for this is they feel “different” or that something is “wrong with them”. So again follow along with me as this relates to pornography. Say you or someone you love has ADHD, they are prone to addiction, and they are prone to escape to help regulate that emotion. They get addicted to porn, they use porn to regulate their emotion, and as a result, they are overwhelmed with shame about this.
Any person could feel shame about doing this, but especially the person with ADHD because they already are prone to the shame struggle any way. This would be one of the reasons the person with ADHD stays caught in that addictive cycle.
Is there hope? Absolutely, YES!!!!
The following principles will help you love on someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD, and this will especially help you as a parent loving on an ADHD child. I teach these principles as applicable to all children when I teach parents, but these principles have only become more magnified as we help our own child navigate their life with an ADHD diagnosis.
In the Old Testament in Nehemiah 4, God’s chosen people were trying to rebuild a wall. They were experiencing great opposition. Nehemiah was the leader of this project, and God gave him a great strategy to keep the work on the wall moving forward. In Nehemiah 4:18-19 the workers had tools in one hand to keep working on the wall and a sword in another for protection.
These principals can apply to all relationships for sure, and there are definite parenting applications, but I think the application for a parent of an ADHD child are far reaching.
What if your child has ADHD? What if that leaves them more vulnerable to addiction? What if you said I want to really build into this child? That looks a great deal like relationally connecting and spiritual investing. We will get to those in a minute. The other aspect is you carry that sword in your hand to protect.
We need to appropriately protect, not over protect. We don’t need to be helicopter parents (always hovering around our kids controlling everything and not letting them think for themselves) or lawnmower parents (mowing down every obstacle our kids face, if we do this they will never learn to grow up). By the way, I am an expert on both these styles because I have found myself doing them too often. God is growing me up in appropriately protecting, and I want Him to continue to grow me up in this.
What does that look like? Lots of things, but let’s look at this specifically in pornography context. Do we have a plan to limit exposure to technology for our children, especially our ADHD children, so they are not left extra vulnerable to sexual sin temptation or sexual sin exposure?
Only God can direct us how to do that for our family, but are we even trying to ask the question? As a parent, what if you fasted/prayed for God to give you a technology plan for your home as it related to yourself and your children?
I know I have been focusing on parenting, but this applies to other relationships. What if the spouse who isn’t in porn struggle helps appropriately protect the spouse who does struggle by graciously and lovingly limiting access to technology (not just for the addicted spouse, but for themselves as well as they model sacrificially loving their spouse)?
This could be a gamechanger for the one who has ADHD.
It’s also about relationally connecting. Take a look at John 11:31-35 for this. What if as parents we loved our kids through their emotional breakdowns instead of punishing over that? What if we cared for their emotions, not just preach good theology to them? I know I have made major mistakes in my parenting in both of these. God is teaching me how to love our children through their emotional outburst, especially our child with ADHD. What if in loving and caring for them like this, we were teaching them how to self-regulate? What if that meant they wouldn’t need to escape? What if they were able to see this is how God wants to meet them in their emotions? What if they saw He wanted to help them regulate, and He wanted intimacy with them in the midst of learning how to regulate?
Again, apply this to other relationships. Maybe you are discipling someone in a group or one on one, and they have emotional outbursts while meeting at times. What if they felt loved on during those outbursts, not just lectured. Even as I type this, I 100% realize this is not something I am good at, but it is something I hope God grows me in. I know He is doing this, and I want Him to continue.
Finally, let’s look at spiritually invest. There are lots of aspects of how to do this, but let’s only think about it in terms of shame and the ADHD person. Watch my podcast on Genesis 3 to help you with this concept. Click on this link for that podcast: Shame podcast
What if when they felt shame over their addiction or lack of emotional regulation, they were able to see how God met them in the that shame? What if when they struggle with shame (because they thought something was wrong with them), they were able to see God made them with ADHD on purpose? What if they saw it as a gift?
For me personally to appropriately protect my child with ADHD and not overprotect, I need to release control and trust the Lord and let Him love on me. To see more on this, look at my blog on anger and stress. Click on this link for that: anger/stress blog link
For me to relationally connect with my ADHD child, I must first experience that relational connection with Jesus, and those really close to me. For me to spiritually invest in my child with ADHD, especially as it relates to shame, then I really must let Jesus meet me in my own shame. To see more on this, look at my blog on shame and tired. Click on this link for that: shame/tired blog link
Remember, we can’t give away what we don’t have.
Just FYI: As we love those with ADHD, they desperately need us to have what we need from the Lord so we can give it to them. This is true in all relationships, but especially true in the ADHD world. At least, that’s what one dad is learning trying to love his child that God has gifted with ADHD!