I'm going to jump right into this one just because I am so passionate about this next statement.
Stop teaching your kids to be so nice and polite to adults. Stop teaching them that the "teacher" is to be respected always and stop teaching them to "just go with the program".
With that being said, this is what I mean this is my perspective.
Harvey Weinstein and people like him don't just become monsters overnight. It is years in the making, testing the waters, fine-tuning their skills. Studying their craft of manipulation, coercion and even brute force. It begins in the playgrounds, in the classrooms, in afterschool activities, sports, and clubs.
When we as parents teach our kids to "be nice" to so and so by allowing them to hug them or sit closely in their environment, we begin to cultivate the beliefs that personal space does not matter. They don't have a right to feel or be uncomfortable in those situations or surroundings. When we don't teach our children about the word NO, about personal space, about respect for their bodies and about speaking up no matter who or what it is, we fail at our most important responsibility which is Protection.
In an age where our kids are so overscheduled some starting as early as age three, it is imperative that we teach life skills as soon as possible.
We need to Relearn ourselves perhaps the difference between being polite and allowing someone to disrespect us. Disrespect shows itself in many ways and it is our responsibility to teach our children these differences.
Sexual Harassment is defined as:
harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.
Sexual Assault is defined as:
It is unfortunately very likely that by the age of nine many children have in some way been sexually harassed at best and sexually assaulted at worst. It is sad to think that perhaps the way we have all been conditioned in society about not ruffling feathers and disrespecting authority and our elders has contributed to this epidemic.
Ok so now that we know, what do we do? Now that more information and help is available how do we protect our children?
Just plain and simple...SPEAK UP! Communication is key. Allow your children the comfort to feel they can speak up at any time and that you will LISTEN and support them. Don't reduce their discomfort just because they are a "kid". Respect them and what they say. Look for signs if they are too shy to speak. Don't force them to take part in things they clearly have no interest in. Ask why, perhaps you will find out that they just don't feel safe or better yet, just lost interest which is not a bad thing either.
Support your child(ren's) right to their own bodies and thoughts. Hopefully, if we begin to do this early enough we won't have another America Ferrera being sexually assaulted at the age of nine. We won't have anyone holding on to these secrets of being shamed into thinking somehow someone abusing their power was their fault.
We reduce the Harvey Weinsteins of the world when we teach the power of Speaking up. We reduce that behavior by instead teaching our children that they also have rights. We reduce the abuse by teaching our children how NOT to just go along with the program. How NOT to be afraid to lose out on a spot in a team or contest or job. We reduce the Harvey Weinsteins of the world by raising Leaders, not Followers.
I've shared so many stories about myself and my Lil Mama over the years. How I have never had an issue with dealing with a teacher or adult figure who felt my daughter was ruffling up some feathers. I don't care who feels uncomfortable but my daughter will not feel uncomfortable because you want to be an adult Bully. Again though, these people didn't just turn this way. I am sure Mr. Weinstein was just as bad at the age of ten, twelve, eighteen, twenty-two etc...
No one checked him on his behavior, his parents perhaps had no clue or worse, no interest. As he gained power and no one spoke up his power grew and he felt people could be bought in one way or another. Parents living out their dreams through their own children can perhaps assist in giving those actions power. This is why we as parents need to remain aware, need to always be learning and growing, need to always remember we are parents first and our duty is to teach and give our children the tools to protect themselves when we are not there.
Share your thoughts. Have you ever been put in an uncomfortable position? How did you handle it? Have the stories shared under the #metoo changed the way you view sexual harassment and or assault? Do you think that teaching our kids to be aware of sexual or uncomfortable situations from an early age is just too much information? Let's chat.
Always stress-free xo,