#MeToo--When Does It Start?
As I saw the hashtag #MeToo trending on my news feed my heart ached. It bothered me because I too get it. Although I haven’t been a victim of sexual assault, I totally get and understand what it feels like to be violated in some way. As a mom, I tend to look at the issues my friends or I may deal with in a way that I can teach my daughter and hopefully prevent it from happening to her.
Being susceptible to a #MeToo moment starts early. How can we teach our young boys that girls are equal in a world that loudly exclaims they’re not? How can we teach our young girls to continue doing the right thing and success will come? How can we teach our young boys that bribing, propositioning, shaming into, or threatening a girl to do any types of sexual act is inhumane? And how can we teach our young girls that saying NO should be done with confidence and not fear? It starts when they’re young and as parents we owe it to the #MeToo victims to raise children that don’t grow up to be predators against our basic rights.
As a parent to a middle schooler, there is so much pressure being placed on our young girls to “fit in.” You have young girls determining their worth based on the number of boys that like them. Then you have the girls that don’t have boys that like them looking at the chosen girls with envy. So much so, they will do almost anything to gain that acceptance. It starts early! We have body image issues, race issues, social economic issues, etc. that are suffocating these kids. There has to be a connection with these issues and #metoo. Those predators that are being revealed now didn’t learn this behavior as an adult, many have practiced a subset of that behavior all through grade school, up until College. But we need to help educate our children NOW so that this behavior is no longer accepted.
M – Make it a point to educate yourself on the issues that your child is dealing with. A lot of parents have the mentality that “they’re kids, they’ll grow out of it” when in fact they don’t always. Any behavior unchecked grows into an acceptable way of life. We all have examples in our own lives of childhood habits and behaviors that became a part of our make up as adults, good or bad. What is your kid dealing with? What might this potentially grow into? I’m a firm believer in getting in front of an issue is a much better seat than having to be reactive. #IGotTime
E – Explain to your children how social media plays a role in how they interpret a particular issue. If everyone on your timeline is taking a certain position toward an issue, chances are you will be of that same mindset too. Social media has taken over the Internet in ways that even I wasn’t prepared for. With that, I want to be able to explain to my daughter the danger of swaying one way or the next without being properly informed on that specific issue and details surrounding it. #Hashtag
T – Teach your young girl about the power of saying NO. Help her to become confident in her ability to use that word with the expectation of a changed behavior by the person propositioning her. Teach your young boy that girls are an equal and valuable player in this game of life. Teach them to have respect for those girls and not disregard their thoughts, ideas, or feelings, simply because “they’re a girl” (what does that even mean?). Don’t rely on the school system to teach your kids these valuable keys, it’s your job as the parent. #Equality
O – Opportunities sometimes have to be created. If your child is not one to come to you and share their thoughts or concerns on a topic, create the opportunity yourself. Bring up the topic in a way that would appeal to your child. Be sure the environment is one that would allow them to speak without feeling as though they’ll be reprimanded. It has to be safe. I usually take my daughter out for dinner. This allows her to feel special because it’s usually during the week and our schedule doesn’t lend itself to going out for dinner during the workweek. So it’s exciting for her and she is a lot more open and calm with this sort of setting. Find out what works for your child. #Create
O – Offer advice to your child from a place of experience. Even if it didn’t directly impact you, we all know or know of someone that went through an unfortunate #MeToo situation. Coming from a place of transparency allows your child to see you as a human, and even if it doesn’t appear that way at first, they WILL listen to what you have to say. Every time I start off a conversation like “Yep, that happened to me” or to “my sister” or “my girlfriend” my daughter eyes opens wide. Two reasons: 1) she is partially surprised that I am sharing this with her and 2) she loves to hear close-to-home examples. That moves it from being something that happened to someone on the news to something that happened to my mom or her friend. That makes a huge difference. #Transparency
Let’s end another person from having to experience a #MeToo moment. #ItsTime