HERE’S ONE THING PARENTS CAN DO TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN
It’s a scary world out there, parents. I know you don’t need me to tell you this. You probably spend most of your day worried about how your child will navigate school, adolescence, and eventually the real world.
With the prevalence of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, we now know more than ever about the evil in the world. This does not help with our parental anxiety.
In recent months, it seems that every day a new case of sexual assault breaks on the news. On one hand, it is good that women are able to tell their stories, find solidarity and, hopefully, closure after enduring such a tragic event. But I know seeing these cases on the news day after day does not do much to ease your fears about sending your child into the world. It simply adds to the long list of things that you worry about.
And for parents of daughters, this is especially troubling. Ninety-one percent of sexual assault victims are female. But I am not writing this to scare you. I actually think that as a parent you can have hope in such scary times.
I say this often because I believe it is true: Parents, you have more influence over your child than anyone else. You have more influence than social media and your child’s peers, teachers and coaches. This means when it comes to seemingly uncontrollable events, such as sexual assault, you have the power to not only intervene but also to help prevent.
If we want to ensure our daughters are safe and protected from sexual assault, we have to raise sons who know what it means to respect a woman and her body. And moms, you are some of the best ones to do this.
STRONG MOTHERS RAISE STRONG SONS
Sons learn so much from their mothers. Perhaps the biggest lessons are these: wisdom and responsibility. As women, we have an intuition that tells us what is right for our kids. It’s built into us. That’s wisdom. As the stabilizing force in our families—the ones who have given birth to and fed our children from birth—we also have an innate sense of responsibility. Because of this, our sons often learn these two important qualities from us.
In a culture where being manly trumps being wise, and improving one’s macho status matters more than being responsible, we mothers know that we have our work cut out for us when teaching the lessons of wisdom and responsibility to our sons. This is why it is crucial that we do this. Men who are wise and responsible value all human life, male and female. Men who are wise and responsible put others first. Men who are wise and responsible see others as whole humans beings—body, soul, and spirit—not just a physical body.
So how do we instill wisdom and responsibility in our sons? We model it ourselves. We trust our guts and intuitions, and we stand firm in doing what we believe is best for our kids as they are growing up. Then, when they are older, we can challenge them to follow us in our behavior. We do this by implementing strong boundaries and by speaking up.
If our sons are about to make a destructive decision, we tell them. If they have broken a rule, we enforce the consequences, all the while ensuring him that we are allies, not enemies. Our sons need to know that we have their backs, even if it doesn’t seem this way.
Moms, when you are strong with your sons they will respect you and the rules you’ve put in place and, eventually, they will see how wisdom and responsibility are required for setting boundaries and sticking to them. This will instill in them the ability to value all human life.
You may not think you have this much power or influence over your son, but trust me, you do. More mothers need to believe this, today more than ever. We need to be sending strong sons into the world, not in the physical sense, but in the emotional and spiritual senses. This is what will keep our daughters safe when we’re no longer there to protect them.
So yes, parents, it is a scary world out there, but you have the power to make it a better place. Raise strong daughters and strong sons who love and value others.
If the next generation of children leaves their parents’ homes believing in and valuing all human life above their own, they will be the ones who change the world, and it will be because of how you influenced theirs.
By Lisbeth Splawn