Garrett Jonsson is a veteran presenter for Fight the New Drug. Having overcome his own challenge with pornography, he is using his experiences to inspire the world and empower his three kids. In this episode Garrett and I will talk about the difference between shame and guilt and you'll hear Garrett's inspiring ideas on how to be a safe person for your kids to come to about anything.
Hello everyone! Welcome back! A couple weeks ago I did an episode on pornography where my friend Melissa Blair and I sort of outlined the scope of the problem with all the sexual content available, especially to our kids. We talked about some of the work we’ve done to address this problem in our communities.
Today’s episode is also about pornography, but from a different angle.
My guest today is from an organization called Fight the New Drug. If you hang out in the same circles I hang out in, meaning your hobbies involve fighting sexual exploitation, then this is a household name for you, or you could also be one of Fight the New Drug’s millions of followers because you believe in and support their mission for other reasons. Or maybe today is the day you are hearing about Fight the New Drug for the first time. If that’s you, then let me just give you a 30 second introduction.
So the New Drug refers to pornography and how it is just as much a drug as cocaine or meth or any drug you would physically put in your body. Their message relies on science, facts and personal accounts to share pornography’s harmful effects on individuals, relationships, and society. They believe in fighting for real love, not the hollow counterfeit you might find on a screen.
So my guest today, Garrett Jonsson, is a veteran presenter and for Fight the New Drug. Having overcome his own challenge with pornography he is using his story to inspire the world. He loves the outdoors, road trips, and fighting for love, but his biggest joy as you’ll see, comes from being a husband and father. So here we go...
Conversation with Garrett
The world is a better place with dads like Garrett Jonsson.
So at the beginning of our conversation we talked about the difference between shame and guilt. If you’ve heard of research professor, Brene Brown, then you know that she has made the study of shame her life’s work. So I want to share something she said about shame vs. guilt.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change….Guilt is just as powerful, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. Shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement...Guilt is good. Guilt helps us stay on track because it’s about our behavior. It occurs when we compare something we’ve done – or failed to do – with our personal values.”
So how do we help our kids experience the difference?
So I don’t know about your kids, but it seems like at around 5-6 years old mine each went through a phase of forgetting to put their shoes on when they left the house. Once when we were visiting the Santa Monica pier in California we realized my daughter forgot her shoes, so her souvenir got to be a pair of cheap flip flops that were too big for her.
So the way I see it, there’s a transition time when you realize your kids don’t need you to micromanage their feet anymore, and they’re proud to independently get ready to walk out the door. But some time passes, and soon they’re just not as excited about it anymore, and they start to forget completely. At least that’s been the pattern in my family.
So I know in those moments when we get to our destination and I realize I have a barefoot child, I have had some parenting fails. I know I have said things like, “What is wrong with you?” “Seriously, how did you not notice there was nothing on your feet?” In those moments I am criticizing their identity, as if they’re defective in some way. Instead I should say something like, “Oops! Did you forget your shoes again? Ok, what should we do?” Then help them find a solution. So I’m empathizing with their mistake, and then helping them own it by supporting them in fixing it.
That’s a pattern we can apply in all kinds of parenting moments, like when we ask the question, “When was the last time you were exposed to pornography?” Keeping in mind of course, that there is a difference between accidentally stumbling across it, and seeking it out. So our response to both situations would be different. But regardless, they need to know that their exposure to pornography does not affect their inherent worth, and that we can empathize and support them.
Another thing Garrett touched on briefly that I want to talk about a little more is his experience with dragging chains behind him when he was riding his bike coast to coast. Click on the video above that Fight the New Drug made about him and his experience. In that video, he talks about how heavy the chains really were. He said that even when he was riding down a hill, he couldn’t coast because the chains would make him come to a complete stop. I think there are some great parallels in parenting.
There will be times when parenting is so challenging that we feel like we are dragging chains behind us, but as we keep pedaling, not only will our legs become stronger, but at some point those chains will start to break down and we will feel a weight lifted.
To get help dragging those chains, we can do what Garrett suggested and use all the tools in our toolbelt. When it comes to addressing pornography those tools include your love for your kids, your family values, and all the resources linked above. (If you choose to use the documentary, Brain Heart World, as one of your tools, I recommend watching it first to determine at what age you want to introduce it to your kids. It’s created for middle and high schoolers, but that 11-13 year old age range is sort of a gray area that I would take case by case.)
Before I end, I want to put in another plug for Fortify. Garrett briefly mentioned it as a resource for people who have a challenge with pornography. They’ve had a wide range of ages use the program. It was created with help from a team of clinicians and researchers who I have a lot of respect for. It’s engaging and interactive, with customizable strategies for different people with their individual vulnerabilities. It allows you to visualize your progress, and celebrates your victories with you. For every adult who signs up, a teen gets a free subscription, because they want to make it widely available for youth. As they say on their website, Fortify is really an army of amazing, courageous people fighting for what brings them the greatest happiness.
So. How are you feeling? Do you know that you can do this? You love your kids (even if you don’t always like them), and that love makes you perfectly qualified. Raising our kids is the most important thing we will ever do. We will make mistakes, but mistakes are the launchpad of success. So embrace them, learn from them, be empowered by them, and then empower your kids to do the same.
Thanks for listening and have an awesome day!