If there is one phrase that I dislike the most, it is “boys will be boys.” It is something that is so common in our culture and has been forever, I assume. I have heard people use the phrase to even dismiss the foolish actions of biblical characters like David, who did not have enough self control to turn away from Bathsheba. He went on to commit adultery and even have her husband killed so he could marry her after she became pregnant. Is this something we should be dismissing as just a male doing what males do? Of course not. So please do not dismiss one of my sons for something stupid that he has done because he is a boy.
This whole reasoning is why I began to realize the importance of teaching my sons self control. That is a hard one, no? Even as adults, we struggle. That is what makes us human. But, I truly believe that if we start parenting the way that we should, from the very beginning of our sons’ lives, we can instill in them that when someone says “stop” or “no,” they need to take a step back and listen.
My husband and the boys wrestle. I don’t really get it, so I made a rule that the boys couldn’t wrestle without Daddy being present. It helps them get out their aggression, but do you know what else? It helps teach them self control. When someone is getting hurt or has had enough, they know to say “stop” and the boys know that means to stop and step back.
The other day, my oldest son was playing in a soccer game and the 7 year old boy was sitting beside me in a camping chair while the 4 year old boy kicked the ball behind me. There are always many siblings running around, having fun while the parents watch their kids play a game. A little girl comes and sits by my 7 year old IN his chair. She leans up closer to him and he leans away. The girl starts saying something about how she wants him to chase her. He says “no” and she continues to pressure him. He then turns to her and says “stop.” She persists. At this point, I hear how his voice changed and I lean over and as sweetly as I possibly could, I say “he said no, so you need to go play now,” and she did.
Was that the right thing to do? I don’t know. I’m not in the business of parenting other people’s kids, but she was making my kid uncomfortable and I was not just going to sit there. I believe he learned from me using a firm, yet kind voice to tell her what she needed to hear, because she somehow wasn’t getting it from what he was saying. I was teaching my kid how not to be a doormat…something I wish I had learned years ago.
Now, I get it. They are kids. She was being silly and wanted him to play with her, but he did not want to play. He said both “no” and “stop” and still, she persisted. But just as I hate “boys will be boys,” I hate “kids will be kids.” How about “kids will be kids, but let us teach them before they become adults.”
But what if no one is teaching their kids about mutual respect?
Don’t get me wrong, folks. It is PAST time that women stand up for what is right and the entitlement of men stops and women are treated like human beings. The number of stories of women being abused and mistreated is staggering and heartbreaking. I hate that this happened and cheer every time a woman bravely stands up for what is RIGHT. Rape needs to end. Sex trafficking needs to end. Sexual abuse and harassment needs to end. Men need to treat women like the treasures that they are.
But there needs to be a mutual respect.
Boys need to respect girls. Girls need to respect boys. People need to respect people.
It isn’t just one gender, really. I am concerned that parents just are not teaching their kids respect.
There are a couple of kids in my son’s third grade class that like to tickle him. No harm, right? Until it just becomes annoying and the kid you are tickling has had enough. I personally HATE to be tickled. It is a form of torture for me and my 9 year old feels the same way. Kids need to be taught to keep their hands off of each other, ESPECIALLY when the other kid says no or stop. Why some kids can’t grasp this is beyond me. There needs to be more training and teaching going on.
I am thankful for these interactions because they are teaching my kids to use their voices and stand up for themselves. It is also teaching them that yes, there is an appropriate time to get an adult to help if the other child is not listening.
Teach your girls to say “no” and “stop.” Teach your boys to say “no” and “stop.” Teach them that their feelings and their words matter. I hope and pray that if we do, we can end so many of the issues that are going on in our world that just continue to escalate as a child gets older.
I guarantee that if a child is not taught about self control, then when they are a teenager, alone with someone of the opposite sex, they are NOT going to learn at that moment. Teaching self-control can also help with the personal battles your child will face later on.
I love this movement from No Means No Worldwide. This is exactly what I am talking about, and wish that every child on the Earth could be taught these things. Each child is beloved and important.