Raising children is an enormously challenging endeavor, under the best of circumstances. Human beings are complicated creatures. Abuse adds dark forces to the mix. It shapes us as children and impacts the parents we become.
Parents attempt to model the behavior they want their children to adopt; strive to give their children the things they, themselves, never had.
If we are to raise sons who do not abuse the women in their lives, we must – first and foremost – protect them against exposure to abusive men . By this I mean not only men who might molest them, but men who treat us (and them) badly.
Consciously and unconsciously, boys take their cues from the men in the lives. This is only natural. It is not to say, however, that we as their mothers have no influence. We have tremendous influence, not only through what we say but what we do.
Children are observant. They watch us closely. They see how we react under pressure, see the choices we make in our own lives. And they seek to imitate us.
The example we set is important. When we submit to abuse, we teach our sons – however inadvertently – that abuse is acceptable. When we tolerate abuse by men in the public eye, we teach our sons that women are not worthy of respect.
“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches…who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp…who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6: 4-6).
The politicians involved in tawdry sex scandals; the men in power who harass and assault women as a matter of course; the athletes who treat women as playthings; the men who commit date rape, who view quaaludes and rohypnol as expedient means to an end; the college students who consider themselves entitled to sex with blindly intoxicated coeds; the men who cheat regularly on their wives (not to mention those who batter the women in their lives to death) were all once boys.
All sons. Continue reading