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Teaching Kids About a Heavy Topic in an Age-Appropriate Way
Fatherhood isn’t Just Playing Catch
What is my job as a father?
When you boil it down, it’s to do everything I can to ensure that my kids are
prepared to take their place in the world as good, involved, capable,
responsible people. I also feel that it's my job to take on some heavy issues.
There are many. But at the moment I'm thinking about the problems women face in
society, and how there's this double standard of responsibility for behavior
when men and women mix. I'm talking about rape. And you know, we don't talk
about it enough.
No, I'm not going to get
all guy-guilt on you, and talk about how all men are bastards who will rape
someone if they can get away with it (we aren't). But we do have, as a culture
if not as individuals, this idea that a guy who has a lot of sex is a stud, but
a girl who has a lot of sex is a slut. Ick. Worse, we recognize that sexual
assault is not okay, but look at the PSAs and all the literature about it: it's
all about how women can protect themselves against the men who would violate
them. How about some responsibility for our own behavior, guys? How about
letting each other know that it's not okay (for example) to get the girl drunk
and take advantage of her? Hmm?
Now, my days of hanging out at the pub are pretty much done. I'm out of school, married, with kids, pretty much a homebody. I don't spend a lot of time where there's much call to keep an eye open for bad behavior of that sort. But that doesn't mean I can't do anything, and it doesn't mean I have to talk about age-inappropriate stuff with the kids.
Some Expert Advice for Raising Boys
I have two small boys, and they are very affectionate fellows. They love to hug people--each other, their parents and grandparents, their friends, everyone. But sometimes, the person (usually another kid they just met) doesn't want a hug. That's when I tell the boys, "Hugs are only nice if both people want to be hugging." I think they get it.
By the same token, if for some reason they don't want to kiss old Auntie Muriel, and Auntie Muriel gets upset, I'll tell her the same thing. No means no, and nothing gives anybody the right to touch my sons without their okay. This policy might cause some friction at family gatherings (it hasn't so far, thank goodness), but I am trying to send a clear message that it's not okay to expect, or require, someone to kiss you if they don't want to.
It's my hope that my boys will internalize this, and learn that there's no reason anybody should be coerced into so much as an unwanted hug.
Fathers of sons? I hope you'll do something similar.
- Here We Go | Mighty Girl
This Hub was inspired by a post on Maggie Mason's Mighty Girl blog. She doesn't need the plug, but you should check her out. Well worth the reading.