Even when our littles are not so little, they still need us. Consider the fact that our daughters have a higher chance of being raped on college campuses than getting the flu, and maybe we might see the point in continuing to parent our children through high school and beyond. Do we talk to our sons and daughters about appropriate sexual behavior? Do we talk about respect and the Golden Rule and how to treat others with compassion and empathy? Likely, we teach our daughters how to protect themselves, how to be on guard and how to be safe, but why do we stop there? Why do we tell our daughters not to get raped when the real focus should be on raising our sons not to rape? We excuse certain behaviors from our male children by repeating a long held mantra, “boys will be boys,” when we should be raising and expecting all of our children to be respectful, compassionate, and basically, just human.
What can we expect from boys? Well, we can expect them to be a product of their upbringing, certainly. We should also expect our boys to be held to the same standard as our girls. “Boys will be boys” is no longer an acceptable phrase to excuse an entire gender of behaviors that are undesirable. Actually this sentiment is offensive to boys and men. It gives us the inaccurate picture that boys and men are incapable of acting in a respectful, dignified, and compassionate manner.
Talking to our children, both male and female about appropriate sexual behaviors, boundaries, personal safety, and respecting others, would be a great place to start. This isn’t really the topic for a one time only conversation – that’s the old way and it doesn’t always work. What we need to consider is that if we start early and have a running dialogue with our children, both male and female, about their bodies and boundaries and personal safety (age appropriate of course) we will be the “go to” choice when they are seeking answers to their difficult questions. What do we tell our growing children as they near college age about drinking, the meaning of NO, partying, and basically talking about sex beyond biology and into issues of consent, peer interaction, and even the law? What do you tell your children? Share your approach below – we could all certainly learn a thing or two from each other.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!