I spoke to my 17 & 20 year old sons about sexual harassment.

In light of all of the stories coming forward in late 2017 and early 2018 from women and men who had been harassed or abused, we’ve had a few exchanges in our family about our reactions. I found myself wondering why I usually ended up defending the accusers and victims while the others seemed not near as compassionate or sympathetic as I felt they should be. One morning after leaving a conversation irritated, I wondered how it was that I had raised young men who seemed indifferent? I was angry because their instincts seemed to blame the victim.  As I questioned my success as a mother it occurred to me that even though I’d taught them about sexuality from a physical standpoint and they knew my values and morals around those things, I’d never taken the time to teach them from the emotional standpoint.

My sons know that I’m their mom, but did they realize I’m a woman? Had I ever taken the time to teach them about sexual harassment? Had I ever shared my feelings, or morals in this regard? No.

I may not have been happy about their attitudes at this point in their development, but I was partially to blame. I’m the only female in my family and it was up to me.

I prepared my thoughts, but prayed first because I didn’t want to speak from a point of anger. I didn’t want to have a discussion. I wanted to have a platform to tell them what it’s like to be a woman in this world. I wanted to open their eyes and take their minds and hearts into the heart and mind of girls and women. My boys aren’t cold. My boys are inexperienced and have minimal interactions with females. If they had sisters, it would be different. I knew that if they could try on a different view, they would open their hearts to their sisters on this planet in a new way.

I asked my husband to have us sit down and hear me the next day.

It was a powerful hour. I shared an impassioned message. They looked surprised at times and they truly listened. What I appreciated is that they took the journey with me emotionally and things began to click. Understanding grew. The softening of their harsh judgment towards accusers and victims was palpable. Compassion was born.

They saw me differently, as a woman, that evening. I think they understand my perspective better. I was satisfied. More than satisfied I was encouraged to hear my husband, whom I’d asked to allow this to be more of my message versus a ‘mom and dad’ message, interject at the end his edict that his sons defend women. He explained that is is their God-given duty.

I walked away from that platform feeling content tha ti had said my piece. Whatever stance they took on the subject from that night forward was on them, but they were not leaving their mother’s household without her teaching them what she felt is right in these things.

It’s not just about teaching children about ‘stranger danger’ and protecting them from sexual predators, anymore. Now, there comes a point if we haven’t figured out how to weave it in and out of their upbringing we need to have a head on, frank discussion about what sexual harassment is and how we perpetrate and eliminate it. We parents have to teach our teenage sons and daughters right from wrong.

Social media friends have asked for my notes since I mentioned this experience. I hope it provides you with some jumping off points for your own family discussions. Here they are:

Notes for Sexual Harassment Talk

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