I’m just as distraught over the current Presidential election as you are. This past weekend was especially disturbing, with added revelations about both candidates confirming what we already knew about their characters. Our whole family was gathered in the kitchen for breakfast this morning and I couldn’t help myself. Mark was there too and without warning I just said, “Girls, this election has my stomach churning. There are some things I need to remind you of. I know I’ve said these things before, but they’re worth repeating, so listen up.”
I’m sharing these talking points with you, reader, because based on the chats I have with other moms, many of you are unknowing or unwilling to bring this up with your kids. We have been through a significant amount of child safety training over the years. As we have served with two different organizations on two different continents, we have been required to know deeply the risks all children face around the globe. It’s awkward and horrible that it’s our reality, but it all needs to be said.
My words to my kids today:
- A man or boy should never, ever grab you or touch you inappropriately or in a way that’s not okay with you. If someone ever does, kick, scream, and gouge his eyes out.
- Do not be afraid—if you ever feel like that may happen or if you ever have a creepy feeling in your belly about a guy—to run and scream and look foolish seeking safety. Follow your gut on that one.
- Sadly, we live in a culture where it’s not uncommon for men to treat women badly. It’s not rare for a girl or woman to get grabbed in places she doesn’t want to be grabbed. Or to be called out to. Or to be shown things she never wanted to see. This is the reality of life in the US, in Europe, in Asia, everywhere. You’ve got to walk in wisdom. Stay away from places and people that seem unsafe.
- Most men who treat women like that already know them. In general, don’t trust men. I realize that sounds sexist, but it’s true that most assaults are perpetrated by men who know the woman or girl they prey upon. If a guy you know makes you feel weird, stay away.
- Please, please, please, no matter what, tell me if a guy touches you or hurts you. Many women don’t tell anyone and they feel like they should be ashamed of it. It’s not your shame. Don’t carry that burden alone. Mom and Dad will help you heal. You will recover.
- Assault can happen anywhere. This morning I read the Twitter thread started by journalist Kathy Oxford labeled #notokay. In response to her invitation, over a million women tweeted their assault stories, reminding me of the prevalence of assault in our world. (Read about it here )
- The vast majority of the women who tweeted #notokay said that the assaults happened in normal places: school, the city bus, the doctor’s office, home. Always be vigilant. If you think a guy groped you on the city bus, he probably did. Scream it out. Do not be silent.
- If another girl ever tells you that she was assaulted in some way, believe her. The vast majority of assaults go unreported and hidden because girls are ashamed of what’s happened to them. Believe your sisters and friends. Statistically speaking there is a very small chance she’s lying.
- Mark chimed in to inform the girls that assault is especially prevalent on college campuses. Alcohol plays a significant role in both the perpetration of the guy and the vulnerability of the girl. Don’t drink stupidly. Or maybe let’s avoid drinking all together.
We rounded out the conversation with a chat about character. I quoted my friend Laurie who recently tweeted, “Kids, character really does count: integrity, humility, & honoring others above yourself matter. What you say in secret matters.” Who you are in secret is WHO YOU ARE. God knows. God sees. There’s a hot mic straight to heaven—you’re not fooling anyone. Please be women who honor the Lord with your words, thoughts, and deeds.
Hours after the above conversation I managed to find a moment alone with each daughter. I asked some follow-up questions: “How did this morning’s talk make you feel? Did you already know all that or did it surprise you? Have you ever been hurt by a boy before?” And it gave each girl a chance to bring up whatever else was on her mind. Moms and dads, may we fiercely protect our kids with all we’ve got!