As I am navigating parenting a teenager for the first time, I have realized that there are things that do not come as “common sense” to our children. Even though many of us grew up in a household that did not talk about things DOES NOT mean we need to continue that in our own households. When watching TV and overhearing discussions on the latest things going on in our world, it is a necessary place for me to have important discussions with my son.
As you are all aware, in October of 2017, the #metoo movement spread viral as a hashtag on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. My son does not have access to social media, per se, however, he does go to school, watches television, and is involved in conversations my husband and I find appropriate regarding current events.
As we were discussing the #metoo movement in the car recently, it lead to a discussion that I hope will stick with my son for years to come. We first defined exactly what sexual assault means. I will admit that having the conversation with my son was uncomfortable for me, but I know that this is a discussion that we must have. My son needs to have respect for future partners, and he needs to know that there are consequences for poor decisions.
After we defined sexual assault, we discussed what consent means. That NO, regardless if the woman has had a DROP of alcohol or cannot stand up straight, means NO. Period, end of discussion. The simple statement of “no means no” is something that always applies.
We discussed that, at times, men have taken advantage of their power or social status to take advantage of women who work for them. This is where the #metoo movement began, specific to sexual assault happening in the workforce. There is never an appropriate time to take advantage of a women, ever, and if you are in a position of power, remember to lead by example.
To conclude the conversation, we discussed that consent from both parties is a necessity before beginning any sort of a relationship with a person.
As parents, it is our job to have the tough discussions with our children. My favorite thing my husband says regularly is “If he doesn’t hear it from us, he will learn it from someone else.” We have a responsibility to have these conversations with our children so we know that they are aware of what is right and wrong.
As I am raising my son, I want him to know he can ask me the uncomfortable questions. An open dialogue as parents helps us to know what is going on in their lives as well as show them how we feel on “hot button issues.” As moms, we can all agree on one thing – sexual assault is wrong. Please know that it is also our responsibility to teach this to our sons and daughters. We must be the example and make sure that they know how to act as they grow older.