Then his best friend’s parents call to complain that he has introduced their son to Internet pornography. The word gets around. No one will let their children associate with the boy, and the parents figure out that they’ve become untouchable as well. And the boy just keeps right on figuring out how to beat the system.
As the parents tell the story, they’re both fighting back tears. So am I. What should we do? they ask. I tell them it sounds to me that they’ve done all they can. But it’s not working! they say, in despair.
I ask, “Can you accept that you’re not going to be able to completely solve this problem? Can you accept that the river’s going to find a way around your sandbags, but that you should keep putting out sandbags anyway?”
Then I say something along these lines: "Are you willing to accept not only that this isn't your fault, that it has absolutely nothing to do with anything you did or failed to do, but also that you are not the appointed agents of change concerning this issue in your child's life?"
In other words, I tell them, do your best, but don't expect much in return. Pray for your son. Above all else, keep the demons of guilt at bay. Guilt is the enemy.
And then I feel guilty for being so grateful.
Family psychologist John Rosemond can be reached at rosemond.com.