I don’t know about you, but as a mom trying to raise two young boys, I’m pretty appalled by the news headlines lately. My oldest son, who is turning 11 in a few weeks has been interested in the Presidential race for a while now. It’s not unusual for him to ask questions about the candidates or the issues they’re stumping about (he was partial to Bernie). Imagine our delight as parents when his teacher told us that our son was starting discussions in school about politics and policy, creating thought provoking debates among his classmates. So proud!
Now imagine our dismay when the latest headlines hit the news cycles, and he started asking about it. “Mom, Dad, what does it all mean?” Abuse, rape, groping, locker room talk..things we had no intention of discussing with him (yet). Sure, we’ve had conversation about what’s appropriate and what’s not when it comes to iPad usage and YouTube videos, but we haven’t delved into the area of what’s unacceptable when you’re speaking about and interacting with girls in a sexual way. Why? BECAUSE HE’S A KID. We shouldn’t have to (yet)!
Where’s my closet? I just want to go live in it with my babies.
How do you talk to your kid about what’s being said in the news? My husband and I discussed how we would approach this topic with him (his little brother is 4, and is happily entertained by The Floogals, thank goodness), and we decided the best approach is to be honest and direct.
We decided to focus on the good stuff (digging deep here folks!) and remind him that, in fact, most men are not like Trump at all.
First thing’s first, every day as we are on our way to school, I tell my children of a few things: be kind, respectful, happy, and make good choices. We live by these words along with the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. So you can imagine the frustration we had when approaching this topic - with kid gloves.
We explained to him that women are not objects and the mere idea that this is even an idea is wrong. Women are strong and powerful. They are to be respected and treated as such.
We talked about how hard it has been for women to be seen as equals in our society. Something he’s extremely unfamiliar with, because he sees his own mother working hard to build a business and his father be nothing but supportive of her. He watches his parents compliment and appreciate one another. He lives by the idea that we are all to be treated the same way regardless of gender, color, race, etc. Be respectful.
We discussed the idea of “locker room talk” and we made it clear that talking about a girl (or anyone, for that matter) in a context that is inappropriate is unacceptable, under any circumstances. That touching another person against their will, boy or girl, is wrong. We explained consent. And oh by the way, we told him that blaming it on “locker room talk” is BS.
Men that are honorable, honest and kind hearted do not speak about other human beings the way Trump spoke about those women. Be kind.
We talked about being in the same place as the person who’s saying or doing things they shouldn’t be. About implication. He was cautioned that if he’s ever in a situation where he sees or hears something that’s inappropriate, he has an obligation to speak up. Just because you’re not the one doing the crime, so to speak, does not make you innocent. Make good choices.
We reminded him that each day is a new opportunity to do your best and make the most of it. It’s all a choice. How you act, treat others and treat yourself. Every day is a gift, use it to your advantage. Explore your world, learn new things, make friends. Be happy.
In the end, our conversation went off without a hitch. Kids are smart. They want to be informed and acknowledged. It makes having these kinds of discussions easier. Open door policy in our house - ask anything - no judgement, we will always answer. My son is now educated on topics I thought we would have a little more time to keep in the vault. Being prepared and honest is the best way to go.