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Parenting Around Hard Conversations

Parenting is a never-ending cycle of life lessons—as soon as you’ve tackled one obstacle, another arises. Sometimes these lessons are about smaller things, like learning how to sneak vegetables in your child’s food, or motivating them to do homework. Sometimes they are larger, more complicated, and must be learned without the aid of playbooks or support groups. Such as how do you parent your child to be a good person? And how do you do that during the #MeToo era? 

Although publicly, this conversation largely centers around the analysis of male behaviors, this topic should be discussed with all of your children, regardless of their gender. It may be hard to gear up for a series of conversations about sexual assault, harassment, and consent, but these can be life-changing talks. There are not a lot of safe spaces for kids and teenagers to discuss these issues, and by transforming your home into that safe space, you are guiding them towards making positive and constructive decisions as well as teaching them how to take care of themselves. These conversations don’t need to happen in a planned or elaborate way. Finding examples in pop culture or current events is a great way to integrate relevant information. 

Society offers undue pressures on traditional gender roles, i.e., men should be the sexual initiator; women should be acquiescent and look a certain way. We may know this is not true, but to a young man, it may feel differently when the pressure of society starts weighing in. Teach your children about empowered and consensual behaviors. Encourage them to speak up for themselves and remind them they do not need to seek approval or acceptance from anyone. Applaud them for being independent individuals who make responsible choices. 

Today’s kids and teenagers have an unparalleled level of access to the surrounding world via social media. There’s no need to tip-toe around this subject. When cultural movements like #MeToo come to the fore, discuss them in your home, let your kids be curious, and enjoy healthy and fulfilling communication.  

If you are struggling to get the conversation about sexual assault, harassment, and responsible behavior started, here are some excellent resources.