Raising Boys In The #MeToo Era
Well it shouldn’t take a #MeToo movement to remind us how important it is to teach our boys to respect themselves and others enough to prevent this kind of behavior. Yet, it’s important to recognize that what starts as harassment can progress to abuse.
If we want our boys to learn about respect, boundaries, and consent then we need to open the line of communication. However, if there’s one thing we’ve taken from this, it’s that this movement is even more prevalent than we thought. And it’s time we face it.
No always means NO
As parents, it’s never too early to teach boys about body autonomy. No, they don’t have to hug anyone if they don’t want to. Instead we can teach them to say “grandma, I don’t want a hug. How about a high-five or a handshake?” If they are embarrassed, help them say it, or speak to grandma when little one isn’t around. This is the foundation of all of it – a person who doesn’t understand the very basic idea of body autonomy won’t respect another person. It is our responsibility as parents to empower and encourage our children at an early age. We can start by teaching them that they are the boss of their body. Don’t touch anyone that doesn’t want to be touched and don’t allow anyone to touch you if you don’t want to be touched. No always means NO.
Stop violating my personal space
Do not take violations of personal space lightly. Yes, boys are physical. Yes, they often grab each other, hit each other, even choke each other. But if someone says stop, THEY MUST STOP. No waving it off, no telling the victim to use his words. If someone says stop, you stop. If someone says no, you stop. Everyone has the right to their own personal space and healthy boundaries. Teaching and strengthening kids on how to give, receive and understand personal space is crucial. It’s about way more than just “no means no, and stop it.” It’s about teaching our boys clear, direct information. No one has the right to violate your personal space. Regardless of who it is, you must give them consent. So, open up the line of communication because there’s no better time to start than now.
Words pierce sharper than a sword
Although it’s considered a small gesture, words can deeply impact our world. If there’s one thing we can do to inspire our children, it would be to teach them to speak kind words of encouragement. Hurtful words can penetrate deeper than a sword, and the shock waves can last even longer. Nothing we can do can take back an unkind word. But we can teach our children the harmful effects that our words can cause. Our words matter. Either we can speak words of encouragement to others or use them in malicious acts. Imagine the difference it would make if we choose kind words and actions in our daily lives. Each random act of kindness is like planting seeds that grow deep roots. Sometimes, we underestimate the power of kind words. Yet it’s so simple. Kindness has a ripple effect. And it should come to no surprise that a kind word from another will put a smile on your face and brighten your day.
Keep filling the bucket to the top
Have you ever looked at your child and said, “Where did you hear that?” And suddenly your child says, “from you.” You think to yourself, did he really hear me say that. Without a doubt your child is like a sponge, soaking up everything you do and say. Think about it. What else do they have to do, but watch and mimic your patterns and behavior. As adults we rarely have the amount of free time that a child has, not to mention the daily responsibilities that invade our mind. Yet a child’s mind is clear and constantly learning. Who do they spend most of their time with? Well that would be you. Think of a child’s brain as an empty bucket. In the beginning we pour vast amounts of knowledge into the bucket. And the bucket starts to fill. Yet as a child grows, the empty space in the bucket becomes less and less. Therefore, it is very important to fill the bucket with useful, powerful, inspirational knowledge. You’re not only setting a good example for your child, but also creating and encouraging lifetime skills. And for every well-filled bucket, is a fabulous parent.
Boys, speak up & break the silence
Let’s face it. It’s hard growing up these days. Peer pressure is tougher than ever. Of course, we can’t always be there to speak up for our kids. And we shouldn’t have to. After all, we want to teach our child to handle tough life issues. One way to help break the silence is by encouraging them to speak up. And the sooner we do so the better. Each opportunity to speak up is one step closer to opening the door to better relationships with friends, parents, and teammates. And don’t forget, when you let your child handle his own problems, it also gives him the confidence to practice negotiation and other social life skills. Regardless, you will have taught your child one of the most critical skills that he will use every day of his life, not only now but forever. So, inspire and encourage your child to find his voice. Always give him the courage to speak up. And break the silence.
Now is the time more than ever to encourage our boys to speak up. Raising boys in the #MeToo movement is challenging. As a parent we can do our part by talking to our children and using these experiences as lessons. We can help them to be a part of the solution by respecting and asking for consent. And most of all we can turn pain and anger into action. The #MeToo movement isn’t going to end any time soon. Let’s create awareness.It starts with us. And it starts now.