Teach­ing teen boys to re­spect women

Papakura Courier - - SITUATIONS VACANT -

Q: I’m a sin­gle mother of two teen boys. I’m proud of them both but it’s been no pic­nic rais­ing them on my own. I read the other day (it was to do with the whole #MeToo move­ment) that it’s the role of the­mumto in­stil re­spect for women etc in her boys.

I felt dis­turbed by this – I’ve worked full­timemy kids’ en­tire lives, I’ve been more con­cerned with get­ting food on the ta­ble and nag­ging about home­work than hav­ing deep con­ver­sa­tions. I have heard them talk about girls solely in terms of phys­i­cal at­tributes, and I told them off, though I con­sider this fairly nor­mal be­hav­iour for a 14 and 15 year old.

Is it too late for me to talk to them about re­spect­ing women and sex­ual con­sent? A: It sounds as if you’re do­ing every­thing you can to sur­vive these tough years, seem­ingly with­out a lot of sup­port. I don’t believe it’s solely the mother’s job to in­stil re­spect for women in her sons, but there’s no doubt your ac­tions and thoughts will play a big part in their at­ti­tudes. It’s never too late to think about this stuff.

Why don’t you en­list the help of your young sons to get the meal on the ta­ble – per­haps a night or two each – and then teach them how to wash out the sauce they slop on their favourite shirt? You’ll teach them how to fend for them­selves and not rely on women to run af­ter them. By your ac­tions of not be­ing a ser­vant to your sons, (and the fact that you didn’t re­main mar­ried to a man who had no re­spect for women), they’ll learn valu­able lessons.

Make the meal prep time en­joy­able. Lis­ten to their music and their ban­ter when you’re work­ing along­side, and slip in the oc­ca­sional pearl of wis­dom if it’s re­quired. Ask them about the girls they know and ad­mire so they’re en­cour­aged to dis­cuss them as friends – peo­ple. Talk about how it was for you as a girl; the good and the bad.

They will prob­a­bly shrink from dis­cussing sex with you but some time when you’re hav­ing a chat, find a way to say that sex or any kind of sex­ual con­tact with­out full and clear con­sent from a part­ner is il­le­gal and wrong. They’re prob­a­bly fully aware of this fact, but it won’t hurt to have it spelled out by you just once in their lives, even if the con­ver­sa­tion is a lit­tle un­com­fort­able. Keep it brief and straight­for­ward and make it clear that you have faith in their good judg­ment and abil­ity to han­dle these sit­u­a­tions. It’s not some­thing you need to bring up reg­u­larly.

One other point is that your sons will be in­flu­enced by other adults they in­ter­act with; school teach­ers, sports coaches, part­time em­ploy­ers, friends’ par­ents. We of­ten un­der­es­ti­mate our net­work, es­pe­cially teach­ers. Your son’s teach­ers see your boys reg­u­larly and they’ll know how they’re do­ing. If you need some re­as­sur­ance or guid­ance set up a meet­ing and ask them.

There are plenty of peo­ple who’ve done out­stand­ing jobs par­ent­ing their chil­dren but for var­i­ous rea­sons things go wrong. You can only do the best job you’re ca­pa­ble of and then don’t beat your­self up. The men they be­come does not rest solely on your shoul­ders.

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten two nov­els for young adults in­clud­ing

She has a new book com­ing in March, called

As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email life.style@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line. Your anonymity is as­sured.

123RF

I’ve heard my sons dis­cussing girls solely in terms of their phys­i­cal at­tributes.

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