How to Raise a Rapist

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Three months ago, it seemed almost everyone in America became appalled when the father of a convicted rapist referred to his son’s crime as “twenty minutes of action.” We went on and on about rape culture and vilified this father, who certainly deserved every ounce of contempt directed his way. Now, after serving his three-month sentence, this rapist was recently released and rape culture is news again. But how many parents who condemned this father are raising just such a rapist?

No one wants to raise a rapist or believes that they would. My guess is that this father did not have a goal to raise a rapist. He might have stated that his parenting philosophy was to raise a happy, successful son. But while individuals may state their parenting beliefs or philosophies in words, their true philosophies are revealed by their behaviors. If we were to examine the parenting behaviors of this father a decade ago, what philosophy would it have revealed?

The parenting philosophy that is in danger of raising a rapist is one that teaches children that they can have anything they want. It teaches that when someone tells them no, they can continue pressing the issue. It reinforces the idea that pushing past the personal boundaries of others is how you gain success. It makes them believe that they are special and that because of this, people will overlook their anti-social behaviors and attitudes.

Not very long ago I was a chaperone for one of my sons’ activities, which included preteen boys and their parents. I was able to observe many parent-child interactions over the course of a few days. There was one boy in particular who was popular and athletic but seemed to have a bit of an anger issue. I noticed his repeated angry outbursts directed toward his mother. But instead of any type of boundary setting or punishment, each angry outburst tended to be met with consolation and reward.

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When this boy was angry that his parent would not spend money on yet another souvenir or activity, Mom shelled out more and more money to purchase whatever was requested. When he wanted to do things that deviated from the group schedule, Mom accommodated. When met with correction from a school official, Mom did what she could to smooth it over.

As I observed the events of the week unfold, I took note of the fact that nothing seemed to alleviate the sullen mood of this child for very long. Each time he pushed past his mom’s boundaries, she eventually responded to the new demand. The boy would then give a mild apology for his mood, paired with an “I love you, Mom.” But it was quickly forgotten within the hour as a new desire presented itself, and a new cycle of emotional manipulation occurred.

This mom doesn’t think she’s raising a rapist. And I pray she isn’t. Human behavior isn’t a perfect formula. But if there was a formula, I am certain that this type of parenting would be part of the equation.

Imagine a decade from now that this boy is in his third year of college. He’s living in the apartment his parents provided, driving the car his parents pay for, insure and keep gassed up. Imagine he invites a girl on a date, and buys drinks with the credit card his parents take care of. Imagine things between them get heated up, but then she says no.

He acts sullen, and tells her he really wants her. She says no again. But he is not deterred. This pattern is familiar. In his world, people always say no a few times before they give in. He begins to act hurt and maybe angry. She still says no. What will he do now?

This young man has absolutely zero skills to handle being told no. He gets more and more angry and before long, he finds a way to get what he wants. After he has, he smiles, issues a mild apology and says, “I love you.” After all, people will forgive his anti-social behavior because he is special. And he is pleased with himself and this outcome. Until the next desire presents itself.

If we are to be responsible parents, we must equip children with the skills to handle being told no. Of course this is not the only value that needs to be instilled to prevent the next generation of rapists. Respect for women, the ability to form genuine relationships, a healthy view of sexuality and responsible use of alcohol are all critical. But the ability to respect the word “no” as a boundary is a fundamental life skill that many children are lacking.

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Teaching this skill is our responsibility as parents and it is done, as a start, by not giving in after we have said “no.” It is done by not allowing our children to become masters of emotional manipulation. We must allow children to learn how to manage anger and frustration, not by removing it for them, but by allowing them to work through it and sometimes live with it. The world will tell them no at some time or another. And they will need to know how to manage the feelings that come with hearing it. If we are to be responsible parents of boys, and say we care about rape culture, and about raising responsible young men, this has to be a top priority

Jamie has had more careers than children but still considers wife and mom the role she was born for. She has been married to her high school sweetheart Jared for fifteen years. Together they have Ben, 12, Jack, 10 and Lauren, 4. Jamie grew up in Buras, Louisiana, but has lived in the Baton Rouge area since 1996. Jamie attended LSU law school and practiced law for about two years before becoming a stay at home mom, then later making a career change to professional counseling. She now works part-time as a marriage, family and individual counselor. Jamie and her family are active members in their church, Live Oak Methodist, and volunteer there in several areas. Like her mother and grandmother before her, she enjoys cooking the foods of her cajun heritage, and in large enough quantities to feed the neighborhood.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Are you a fool.
    I was raised to be the best take what I wanted an never look back. At no time in my life have I ever crossed the line with a female. Not at any age. I’m also married to my high school sweetheart an have two sons an a daughter. Let me tell you this I raised my boys same as I. An can 100% tell I sleep well knowing my boys would be the first to intervene if something like that was happening just around them. I think maybe you need to stop preaching this. If u want to raise your boys to not achieve an always run in middle of pack fine. But as for me an most of the real world. I want my son’s an my daughter to never take no for answer. Just because I teach my kids to go after an get everything they want in this world. Does NOT MEAN THEY WOULD DISRESPECT A FEMALE AT ANY TIME PERIOD. I think maybe you should change the article name to how you think that one mother in your opinion is raining a rapist. Are write another article. I’ll title this one for you.
    How to raise underachievers.
    By a proud not ashamed to finish last mother.
    P.s.
    Go get boys respect ur girls an never take a backseat to anyone.

    • You say that your children would never disrespect a woman, but you have disrespected and insulted the author by calling her a fool, insinuating that she is a bad mother, and calling her children underachievers. If your children are following your lead, you can rest assured that they will abuse others, and that they will qualify that abuse by claiming that they are entitled to what they want.
      Disagreeing with an author is fine, but don’t claim to be morally superior and then treat someone with contempt and indignity.

  2. Very good article and one that I find myself struggling with more times than not. My husband constantly tells me that I give in to easy after I have already said no several times. It’s hard as a parent not to want to give your kids everything. Especially when I feel like I have great kids already so what is it going to hurt. I will definitely keep this read in mind next time I say no and the kids are begging me. Thank you!! From your neighbor in Central.

  3. Great article and well written! I was shocked by the first comment! He says his kids would at no time disrespect a female and he begins the comment by referring to the female writer as a fool. Sounds disrespectful to me. He seems to think that by your child being able to respect boundaries, they will not know how to work hard and do their best. That makes no sense whatsoever! Thank you for writing this!

    • Thank you for your comment. You are right, there is absolutely a difference between respecting “no” as a personal boundary of others and striving and persevering through adversity to be the best at something. I believe the majority of readers understand the difference, as you do.

  4. I hate it when people stick there noses into parenting and try to micromanage, thinking they know solutions when they don’t. And Brock Turner was not convicted of rape. He was convicted of sexual assault. There’s a difference. Not that you would care. The whole article is about listening to the word “no” but you’ve used Turner as an example when he sexually assaulted an unconscious girl who couldn’t say no, who was passed out. And when Brock Turner was raised, this wasn’t an issue. His case made it a legal issue. How were his parents supposed to know?

    • Brock Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. I have a law degree, so yes, I do know the legal difference. I’m still comfortable referring to him as a rapist.

      And while you are correct that the victim could not say “no” due to unconsciousness, the point of the article is about teaching children to respect the personal boundaries of others, whether they can speak the word no or not. If you think that the victim’s inability to say the word no voids the underlying principle of the article, then you have missed the point entirely.

  5. I would add some of this focus should be on the responsibility of the father and this violent, greedy society, not just the mother.

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m the author of this article, so let me offer a clarification, if it was not clear initially. It is absolutely both parents’ responsibility to examine our parenting philosophy and what behaviors we are reinforcing. I began by focusing on Brock Turner’s father and his parenting philosophy. The example I gave was just that, an example, based on a personal observation. In that case, there was no father present to observe. However, the principle of the article is addressed to all parents, which is why, in the conclusion, I address “parents,” not mothers.

  6. This article fails to address the motivation of a rapist. It isn’t about having sex, it’s about having power. Rapists aren’t spoiled boys who can’t handle the word no, rapists want their victim to say no. The type of rape the author is describing represents a tiny fraction of sexual assaults and rape.

  7. This article makes me wonder if the child in the first picture was asked if he wanted a picture of himself attached to an article about raising a rapist.
    Maybe sharing children’s pictures or personal stories for mom’s blogs will at some point cause a child to lash out. But just a thought.

    • All the images used on this blog site have been given permissions to use freely. Seems like you had enough time to invest to write a comment, yet completely missed the point. Kudos.

  8. I’m not overly surprised to see so much criticism of an article which highlights a very very important point. People are nit picking too much and over looking the vital point. Teaching children that no is not a final answer and can be changed is dangerous in many situations, once of them being in regards to sexual acts. Also sexually assaulting an unconscious girl is simple horrendous. How could any one raised to respect other’s bodies and boundaries engage in such an act.

  9. Like another commenter, I am curious to know if the boy in the first photo (and his parents) gave permission to have his face forever attached to an article about rapists. I also think it’s a huge jump to say that a bratty kid will become a rapist. Is this just your opinion, or is it evidence based? How many rapists are impoverished and almost never get what they want? Ditto the other commenter who said rape is about power, not being a spoiled brat. And sheesh – I’ll add this to this list of one thousand other things I feel like parents are judging me for at every birthday party or school function. Now every time my kid is in a foul mood and not behaving their best , I get to worry that other parents are thinking my kid will grow up to be a rapist!

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