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Gender, Personal, Psychology, Relationships, Society

Raising Boys – Teaching Respect

Do you remember your first kiss?

I am a woman raising three Son’s with my husband. I look at our lovely boys and delight in their innocence. But lately, in the last few months I’ve seen some changes. My oldest is nearly 8. He is changing every day. Our baby is changing.

We’ve tried so very hard to protect them and shelter them for as long as possible but once they start school, they are quite frankly thrown into a deep dark jungle. My eldest son is currently desperately trying to navigate through this jungle. All I can do is stand by and watch as he is constantly spiked and hurt by the bushes flapping into his face. When he comes home I discover that he has new words, new sayings, new ways of thinking, new bumps and bruises. All I can do is try to steer him down the correct pathway, try to be available and try to answer all his questions about life. The baby I held so tightly and so securely to my body is now finding his own way. It takes all my will power not to stand in front of him and whack away the taunting monkeys, then tear up the scrub land to make his pathway easier. I know I have to stand back but it is not easy when it is your baby.

Girls are becoming a slightly warmer topic. The girls are starting to notice him and I think he is starting to notice them. Mostly they just bug him and he stays away as he can’t be bothered with the hassle! But it is only a matter of time before the first influx of hormones descend upon his body and the boys catch up with the girls.

Are kids growing up faster than ever before? I’m not so sure. I think children have always had beautiful all-consuming crushes on one another since the beginning of time. It is all part of growing up. The divine fluttering of a ten-year olds heart should not be missed. It is a pure and gorgeous feeling!

There’s no doubt society is more sexually aroused and sexy images are found everywhere. It is stuffed down our throat. Kids have heard the word ‘sex’ from an increasingly young age.  It has become incredibly difficult to shield our kids from sex. I have made a good stab at it though! But I am losing the battle now. It is all the talk in the jungle, sorry I mean playground!

My eldest is at an age where I know he is not far from his first fluttering of a crush. I am curious how to handle this very natural feeling. I guess I will try my best to be available if he wants to share how he feels and I guess I will use the opportunity to talk about girls. He’s always been very open to talking about personal things but I’m not naive, I realise I may be the last person he wants to talk to!

Every morning you can read a paper and it will tell you there has been yet another rape or assault on a woman. How can we protect our children and ensure our Son’s understand there are personal boundaries that must always be respected? Why do some men believe they have the right to abuse another person? Why do some people believe they have the right to abuse their power? I should state that women can and do abuse too. Thus, all parents need to be ensuring their children are aware of personal boundaries but for now I am focusing on boys.

I think it is vital that all families teach their sons about personal boundaries. It is vital that young boys understand what is acceptable behaviour. It is uncomfortable to have these conversations but it is essential that we do. I have not had these conversations yet with my boys but I have started to lay down the lawn so to speak. I am ready and willing to discuss when the time feels right.

So what have we been doing in our house?  We’ve made it clear they must always respect their own bodies and other people’s bodies. We’ve made it clear that when I say No, I mean No. Not maybe, not OK. It means No. There is no grey area. We’ve made it clear that it is not acceptable to hurt anyone, even a tiny bug is to be protected and cared for!

I believe that respect starts in the smallest, often most insignificant ways. I hope with all my heart that my boys respect themselves and ultimately respect women and men in the future. I hope all my little tricks make up a much bigger picture. Sowing the seeds without them even knowing!

I think we should encourage our children to celebrate differences, value other people’s perspective and treat other people with dignity.If we can go back to basics then we might get back onto the right track. It is a very hard road to drive on, every sign we pass is shouting sex, corruption, violence, abuse and much more. Our children soak it all up. But we must remember, our voices are louder, our position is much stronger. We have the power as parents, we have the authority to send positive and healthy messages to our children.

If  we can produce three good men with three good hearts who can find their own unique path in life, I will be a very happy woman. Nothing else matters.

What do you think? Are you currently trying to protect your children? Do you try to teach the meaning of respect? Please share your thoughts.

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About Alana Munro

Writer. Mama to three, wife to one. Red wine consumer.

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