I get TONS of questions. Lots. So many in fact, that I ended up writing a book.
But there are some questions that don’t really have a place in the book. There are others with answers that need to be reiterated … and reiterated … until you feel like you’ve been bludgeoned by Mjolnir. (Just ask my husband – NO ONE can nag like I can)
The result: I’ve decided to launch Ask a Question Friday. If you have a question you want answered, send it to me at email@example.com. If you want to make a party of it, read this at 5pm with your favorite cocktail (who says that prevention education can’t be fun?).
So grab the wine opener, and let’s get started.
Joelle, you have a young son. With everything you know about abuse, how can you ever let him out of your sight?
I get this question all of the time.
I’ll admit it: having a kid is really hard. If you watch TV and keep up with the news, you’re bound to think that the world is a terrible place where children can’t play outside and where a predator lurks behind every corner.
But much of that is not true.
My son plays outside with his friends almost every day. At least twice a week, I have about six kids in my house playing Legos, Xbox, or inventing zombie-esque games.
You can create a fun, safe, and magical place for your child to play and thrive. How do you do that? Be aware. Know your child’s friends and their parents. Demand that your child follow your rules for safe play, check-in, etc. Be observant of other adults. Understand that “Stranger Danger” is important, but that a majority of abuse is perpetrated by someone YOU and YOUR CHILD love and respect.
I am doing my best to raise my child with strong body boundaries, strong behavioral boundaries, and the confidence to know that he can tell me anything. He does not spend time alone with any adult besides his parents or a trusted caregiver. From a toddler, he has known the correct names of his body parts and that no one touches them inside or outside of his clothes (or vice-versa, or takes pictures). I am also teaching him to be confident enough to know that it is okay to say no to an adult, he does not have to be hugged or touched if he doesn’t want to, and that self-esteem and self-confidence will be his biggest defenses against predators.
Mostly, I try to make sure that he is not surrounded by fear, judgement, or confusion about his body. And yes, I am on the stricter side of parenting. My son has had strong and appropriate consequences for inappropriate behavior. I am an adult, and my child is a child. He wants me to be an adult and to be strong for him. It is my job to solve the “adult problems” of his world so that he can learn to problem-solve his own issues.
Am I perfect? Hell, no. I am sure that any reader can shoot 100 holes in my answer. But I will say this: my child has only one chance to be a child. He only has one chance to be strong about his body and full of childhood friendships. I refuse to raise a child with a victim mentality. It’s not my son’s job to pay for what happened to me.
I know that I mess up every day. A lot. But awareness is 90% of the battle.