As the news is saturated with sexual harassment allegations, it’s hard to shield your child from what’s going on. You may find yourself wondering how to best address such a sensitive topic.
Tip #1 – Choose the right time
This is an important topic and not a quick conversation to be had. Make sure you set aside some one-on-one time with your son when you have plenty of time not only to explain but also to answer any questions.
Tip #2 – Don’t scare your child but make sure he or she understands reality
The world can be a confusing place, but make sure that you strike a balance between fear and reality. In an age appropriate way, make sure you explain the difference between unwanted behavior and appropriate behavior. Give examples of how men show women respect.
Tip #3 – Start with what your child knows/thinks he knows
One effective way to begin a conversation is to ask your child what he’s heard and what he knows. This not only helps you determine in what direction to take the conversation, it will also give you a chance to dispel any myths. During the course of their conversation, Ned and Liz’s 8-year-old son asked them if he couldn’t play baseball with the girls at recess anymore. They realized that their son was confused by everything he had been hearing and they set about correcting his mistaken ideas while also explaining that some sports, such as tackle football, were more appropriate to play with his male friends.
Tip #4 – Take cues from your child
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Some children are naturally more inquisitive than others and will have more questions. Other children may develop questions a few days later. Take cues from your child and don’t belabor the conversation. Make sure you answer any questions honestly, but in age appropriate detail, and be ready to address any questions that may arise in the future. Don sat down prepared to have a long conversation with his son. Halfway through, he realized his son appeared bored. When he asked his son if he had any questions, his son replied, “I get it, Dad”. Don realized he was belaboring the point and, rather than a long conversation, his 13-year-old son just needed a short talk and ‘check in.’
Tip #5 – Make sure your child knows he can come to you in the future with any questions
Your son may not have questions at the time, but make sure you tell him that he can come to you at any time in the future if he has questions or is confused. Especially as they get into the tween and teen years, it’s important for your child to know that you are open to discussing this topic.
Tip #6 – Model appropriate behavior
The best way to make sure your son understands appropriate relationships between men and women is to model them yourself both in and out of the home. And don’t forget to monitor how you speak about women in the presence of your child. What may be a joke or seemingly an innocent off-the-cuff comment may actually be sending the wrong message.
Jiminy is an app that helps parents find out what’s on their child’s mind, and talk to them about it. If you find it hard to initiate a talk with your child, Jiminy might be what you looking for.