Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I don’t want to teach that lesson….

I’m a mother to a 21-month old little girl, Hen. I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to fully raise a child. I’m just getting started. Right now I’m trying to teach Hen how to count to 5. So far, we’ve got one to three.

In addition to four and five, there are many lessons left. Many of them I can’t wait to start. For example, the first time she has a book report! I can’t wait to read the book along with her, just like my mom did. Or the first time we bake a cake together and it’s a gooey disastrous mess. But, there are other lessons I’m not so excited to discuss. Like, the first time a friend hurts her feelings, the day I have to explain that she cannot trust everyone, when we talk about infatuation vs love. I’m not looking forward to her first heartbreak or the moment I’m standing on the sideline in fear she’s making a mistake, but trying to decide if it’s a mistake she should make. Ugh. Even just thinking through all the scenarios makes me anxious.

Many of the things I know I learned through my own mistakes or watching others. Gosh, I don’t want her to learn that way. One of those lessons, was about rape culture. In high school they taught us what rape was and that as women it was on us to protect ourself, to dress appropriately, to watch how much we drink, not to trust anyone, etc. Even just the archaic dress code in schools is a huge signal that it’s on you as a girl to not be provocative.

And that culture never ends. My first semester at A&M, my dad leaned over my shoulder as I worked on my class schedule with an advisor and said, “What about self defense?”. Every MWF I found myself in self-defense class learning that it was also on me to physically defend myself during an attack. I DREAD the day when I’ll be telling my daughter these same things. Not because I believe it will be her fault, but because if she’s not on the defense who will be?

I can’t even stomach what it would feel like if something happened to her and she thinks it’s her fault because I’ve been drilling into her head all the things that were drilled into mine. That guilt is real. My friend was sexually assaulted after being dosed with GHB. I left her and found her later with a male “friend” over her unconscious body. I kicked him until her got off of her. In that moment, rape became a real concept to her and me and it only furthered the notion that as women WE have to be on the defense.

But what if we didn’t? What if we grew up in a world that taught men to respect women’s bodies? That taught them what was and wasn’t appropriate with sex? What if instead of teaching girls how to test their drinks for date rape drugs, we taught our kids about consent?

I speak often with my mama friends about raising children. The things we thought we would value pre-parenthood like intelligence and beauty don’t matter much or even at all now. As a parent, we value kindness. To quote my sister-in-law, “If there’s any measure of how I’m doing as a parent, it’s how kind my child is”.

I’m going to work on raising my daughter to be kind. When the time comes I’m also going to teach her about the bad in the world. In the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers that her peers are also learning about kindness and how to be the good in the world.

Any other parents getting anxious about all the hard lessons?

1 comment :

  1. I am not a parent, yet. Some lessons I'm still learning as an adult. What I do know is there is a difference between being nice and being naive. Kind to all, but save the honey pot for the hunny.


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