Conversation & Discussion in the #MeToo Age
Protect our grandchildren and future generations
An exclusive feature *
The #MeToo movement is up front and center, and it’s not going away. Although sexual harassment and sexual abuse have been happening for generations, it is now being brought out into the open as victims share their stories, and parents and grandparents converse about topics to educate children regarding sexual harassment. Chances are you might know someone who has kept their story hidden…perhaps yourself, a family member or friend. In past generations you may not have been aware that someone had experienced sexual assault or abuse; perhaps your own parent or grandparent may have been a victim. All of these situations have historically shared one common thread – a deafening silence because of fear. Until now.
The #MeToo movement has inspired and supported victims to speak their truth. It has brought to light the overwhelming statistics of victims traumatized by others. We can no longer ignore or brush this under the rug — nor should we. As parents and grandparents, we have an opportunity and obligation to teach and protect our children. The #MeToo movement has given us this platform. Whether you have little ones or teens, it is critical to begin creating family conversations around this issue.
- Although you may feel uncomfortable talking with kids about sexual topics, do not wait any longer. Educating your children or grandchildren early on may lessen their chances of being victimized. It’s never too early or late to begin these discussions. By creating early open communication, even if you feel uncomfortable in the beginning, you will be letting your child know that you’re comfortable talking about anything and everything.
Here are some ways to help you begin the conversation…
- Create a family culture that allows all conversations—even the difficult ones to occur. Create a conversation appropriate to their age level. Begin open and honest conversations early on. If you create a safe space for your little ones to talk with you, chances are they will feel safe coming to you when they are teens. Talk with children at an early age about their body. Answer their questions openly and honestly based on their developmental level.
- Talk with your children about the importance of respecting themselves and others.
- Remind them that their body is their own and help them create their own personal boundaries. Teach them to be aware of who can touch their private body parts and who cannot.
- Let them know that if someone touches their body and tells them to keep it a secret, that is not okay, and they need to tell someone immediately.
- Model respect for your child’s feelings and body.
- Knock before entering their bedroom or bathroom.
- Do not force them to hug someone.
- Limit tickling…do not assume that your child likes to be tickled. If they
ask you to stop, respect their boundaries.
- Teach them how to be in a healthy relationship.
- Model respect in all of your own relationships.
- Show them ways to be respectful of their family and friends.
- Remind children and teens that it’s important to trust and respect authority, but not all authority. If they feel uncomfortable being with an adult, even one they know who tries to touch them inappropriately and says something of a sexual nature, remind your children to say “no”. Then, they need to tell a trusted adult.
When talking with older children and teens…
- Discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Healthy relationships feel good and they are respectful.
- Unhealthy relationships do not feel good and make you feel unsafe, humiliated, ashamed or embarrassed.
- Model healthy relationships for them.
- Talk with your teen about consent and what that actually means.
- Teach your teen to use their voice. Role play with them and help them decide what they would do in a situation when they feel uncomfortable, and ways they can protect themselves.
Creating early conversations is critical to children’s safety. These conversations need to continue as children develop. Both parents and grandparents play an important role in keeping the next generation safe. If we each do our part, future generations will not have to experience the devastating effects of sexual violence that past generations have suffered. The time to teach our children is now.
*Conversation & Discussion in the Me-Too Age, Protect our grandchildren and future generations is an exclusive feature for grandparentslink.com by Bonnie Compton, APRN, BC, CPNP. Bonnie has worked with families for more than thirty years as a child and adolescent therapist, parent coach, and pediatric nurse practitioner and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families. In doing so, Bonnie helps parents and grandparents create healthy boundaries and relationships. She is a writer, speaker, workshop and retreat facilitator, and hosts her own podcast radio program, Wholehearted Parenting Radio, which is available on iTunes, Web Talk Radio, Radioactive Broadcasting Network, and Stitcher Radio. Bonnie lives in Charleston, SC, with her husband. She is a mom of four adult children and believes that being a mother has been her most important job; and loves being Gramma to her three beautiful granddaughters. Bonnie is also the author of a new book, Mothering with Courage. https://www.amazon.com/Mothering-Courage-Mindful-Approach-Becoming/dp/1944822631/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509394443&sr=8-1&keywords=mothering+with+courage
Bonnie has an online course “Mothering with Courage Daily OM’
Have a question or want to contact Bonnie?
843-718-1551, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.parentingpartners.info