I am sure there are many times when we talk with our children or joke around with them and say something that we didn’t really think about. We so often flippantly say things without really thinking them through and realizing the impact it could have on our children. I am so guilty of doing things like this often as I am a very big smart ass. I will constantly tease my girls and say things that I don’t really mean and I know they know I am just messing around. However…this one thing I have been saying to my girls needs to STOP, and I need to spread the word so other parents stop telling their girls the same thing.
“HE IS ONLY MEAN TO YOU BECAUSE HE LIKES YOU” or “HE PULLS YOUR HAIR BECAUSE HE THINKS YOU ARE CUTE.”
I am sure most of us have said these things to our daughters when she complains about a little boy in class that is continually picking on her, pulling her pony tail, pushing her, or teasing her. It is just an innocent statement from us parents, but the impact of those words are HUGE!!!!!
I saw an image on Facebook the other day and it has stuck with me since.
Me: So when you see the 4 year old boy pull the little girls hair…
Student: He likes her!
Me: Now they are around 11 or 12 and he grabs her arm and wrestles her to the ground even though she calls him a jerk and yells at him to leave her alone.
Student: That is just how boys are.
Me: Now they are 18 and he grabs her arm and-
Student: Oh, that’s not okay.
Me: Really? How would he know? How would she know? How would you know? You just told me that for the first 17 years of these children’s lives that you thought it was cute, sweet, and natural for a boy to grab a girl and be rough with her.
Let me explain, when we tell our girls those statements it is telling them that hurting is flirting. Even worse, that a boy that likes you can hurt you and it is okay. It starts at a very young age teaching them that love equals abuse and in NO WAY do I want my girls to think that. Love should equal kindness and respect, and it should never mean hurting another person.
Another thing these statements do is dismiss the bad behavior for the bully. No matter what the intentions were, a bad behavior is a bad choice and should not be given an excuse. When I have told my girls these statements all it does is show them that I don’t take it seriously and in the future if a boy hurts them worse…they might not come to me about it. I would hate to lose that trust from them for later in life just because I blew off these behaviors now. They need to know that I am their safe place and I will always go to battle for them!
Another thing it does is romanticize children’s friendships. It takes away the innocence of young children who need to learn that it is okay to be friends with any gender and being friends with the opposite gender should in no way mean that they “like” each other in a relationship kind of way. Of course my girls have had crushes on little boys, but it needs to remain innocent and for me not to put adult notions on it.
This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I hate thinking in any way that I am letting my girls down. I want to raise strong independent loving girls. I need them to know how to demand respect from boys and not settle for anything less than they deserve. I am embarrassed and ashamed that I have said those statements to my girls, but I will never say it again!