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"My husband has been asked to leave our house because of serious lust/masturbation issues that have been occurring for quite some time. What to I tell my two sons, age 4 and almost 7?"

A. I am assuming your husband is seeking help for his sexual problem and that the two of you are separated but not pursuing divorce at this time. If you are in the process of divorce, please seek professional Christian counseling for yourself and your sons to deal with this very difficult transition.

If the separation is temporary, it's important to set up a regular and frequent visitation schedule to help your sons keep the continuity of relationship with their dad.

They are at an age where their bonds with him are still forming and it's essential to their well-being that they are able to remain connected with him. If you have concerns about your husband's behavior or are afraid they'll be exposed to inappropriate media, then ask your husband to meet the boys at a park, restaurant, or other public setting.

For their ages, these visits should occur three to four times a week and last from two to five hours. Long weekend visits are very disruptive for kids this age; their sleep, rhythm, and routines are easily thrown off. Go with them the first time to see their dad's new residence, so that they are reassured that he is okay.

If possible, you and your husband should sit down with the boys together and assure them that you are both committed to them, love them, and will see them regularly. Ask your husband to tell them that he is working on a grown-up problem and needs to live apart for a while to get better.

If he is seeking help, have him tell them only that he is getting help from a doctor. It is important that you do not tell them the specific nature of the problem because they are too young to understand it. In fact, telling them at this age could actually have potential to harm them, because it could confuse the issue of minor masturbation activity that often accompanies puberty.

Get some support for yourself as well. This is a tough issue, but I have seen families come through it with miracle-like healing through extensive, intensive therapy, prayer, and accountability.

Karen L. Maudlin, Psy.D., is the mother of two and a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is the author of Sticks and Stones (W).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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