A youth counselor. A pediatrician. A neighbor. A teacher. A priest. A classmate.
Respected elders? Sometimes. But several recent conversations, these were the people who tried to take sexual advantage of either me or friends when we were younger.
Last weekend’s conversation reminded me of the importance of teaching our kids to “trust their guts”. Even as adults, we are so programmed from our youth to respond yes to “authority figures” We should remind ourselves and our children that is perfectly okay to say NO.
If we TEACH our kids to trust their feelings, and to listen to their instincts, it might help them avoid a potentially dangerous situation. We are animals, and our instincts have evolved over centuries. We need to teach them to listen to their bodies, which can give them warnings that only they can feel:
- If a situation feels creepy, it probably is. Get out, if you can. It is NOT okay for a young classmate to expose himself to you—one, two, three times—while others smirk in the corners, watching the show created for you.
- If you suddenly hear the waves in your ears, ocean miles away, your fingers feeling electric with awareness, take a step back. When someone asks you to “just send them a naked picture” or “wants to take a few sexy pictures with you” know that when it feels uncomfortable, you can say NO!
- That pit in your stomach, when someone touches you, even on our shoulder, when you want to pull away. When the doctor asks you to strip down because you have a cold, ask WHY?
- That shrieking internal voice screaming “THIS ISN’T RIGHT!!” means “LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE. I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE.” And do it. Walk away, run away.
Kids, trust your parents, or an older sibling, or a teacher that you DO feel comfortable with. Try to talk to someone if a person has tried to hurt you, coerce you, threaten you, buy you, or you just know that something isn’t right.
Parents, trust your kids. When they stammer that they don’t want to be around a specific teacher, doctor, babysitter, neighbor, they are most likely saying it because their internal warning signals have said not to trust someone they are “supposed” to. Great for them, that they recognized these feelings.
Sometimes kids—and adults—can’t verbalize WHY they don’t trust someone, don’t want to be around them. And that is OKAY.
These recent conversations were scary because of how many people I know were preyed upon, fortunately with no success. But another weakened day, and any of us might have been victims. A life-lesson for me that “trusting my gut” is still important, sometimes my kids can be wiser than me about certain people, and teaching them to “trust their gut” can be life-saving.
Take tonight to talk to your kids. Share these words with them, if you wish. It is that important to me. C
2/8/12–Two updates. One is the sad fact that an elementary school in LA is replacing their ENTIRE staff after arrests for 2 teachers committing lewd acts, a third one today. Two is that it is incredible how many people reached out to me on FB today to share their similar stories. TALK TO YOUR KIDS NOW!! Have the squirmy conversations now, strengthen your kids–and yourself–for life.