There have been a myriad of opinion blogs posted lately that have sparked so many emotions for me.
First was the likely fictional tale of a boudoir photographer who received a heartfelt email from one her client's husbands arguing that by photoshopping his wife as she requested, she has unintentionally wiped out her life story. *Eye roll*. I would comment on that only so many other photographers have done so far more eloquently than I would (read my friend, Lynn's here.).
Then, the overprotective dad that took a "prom pose" photo with his daughter's date, stating that he would do to the date whatever the date tried to do to his daughter. It was silly, and, I believe, innocent fun. As a bit of a feminist, I was still not at all offended by this photo or news story.
Others were, and lots of opinion pieces began to circulate, including THIS one on HuffPost that was *actually* quite a brilliant read.
Written by Kasey Ferris and titled "Please don't threaten my son for dating your daughter", she articulately makes an example of the viral post (although she, too, admits that it was all in good fun and doesn't really judge the father for the post). However, it opens up a great discussion topic about the way we are teaching our children.
Do you remember being a hormonally-charged teenager? I do. I *REALLY* do. Actually, it just so happens that I am currently oh-so-happily married to the "bad boy" that I was sneaking around to have "relations" with at the age of 16 and throughout my teenage years. My father made so many stereotypical "overprotective dad" comments, threats even, to my boyfriend.
16 years ago (almost to the date), my father shook the hand of the boy who was picking me up for the first time while eyeing him up and down. My mother spent the evening, I'm sure, pacing around the house thinking of all the worst possible scenarios. It was later that night that this boy and I shared *THE* most amazing kiss in the history of all kisses on the dance floor of his homecoming dance. We still talk about this kiss. In fact, we just did a couple of weeks ago over dinner with our 2 kids who were happily playing iPad games at the dinner table (Ok, so I'm not a parenting guru. Full disclaimer.)
Now that I am a parent, of course I can understand that feeling of wanting to shield your children from all harm. But here's the thing...we can't. But there is a smarter route to take. There is an avenue that doesn't involve polishing your shot gun when your daughter is heading out the door with her new beau and trying to wish away all harm. Sounds backwards, doesn't it? Though, that's how so many do it. That's how so many were shown through demonstration to do it.
As parents, we have the opportunity to TEACH our children. To demonstrate to them how they should respect others, how they should respect themselves.
We need to give our daughters the tools to be strong, courageous, intelligent, incredible people. Teaching them that boys are horny little shits who will only knock them up and run away is absolutely ludicrous but sadly incredibly common.
As Ferris states in her article (which, like I said...BRILLIANT, y'all!):
"Above all, realize and come to terms with the fact that teenage sexuality is not a "boy thing". Teenage sexuality is a teenage thing. Young men and young women alike are going to be curious, interested, and looking to learn more about sex. Your daughter is just as curious as my son, I can virtually guarantee it."
Can I let you in on a little secret? Your teenage daughter is probably just as horny as her teenage partner. I was just as interested in sex at the age of 16 as my then-boyfriend-now-husband. And do you know what HE was!? COMPLETELY respectful of me. 100%. I never once felt an ounce of pressure NOR an ounce of regret with my decisions to be with him sexually or otherwise. I want to raise my boys to be THAT respectful of women.
Did I feel that way about other relationships I had with men...err...boys? HELL. NO. Did my overprotective parents save me from making bad decisions? HELLLLLL no. In fact, I would argue that several times I was pushed into purposely making bad decisions out of spite. Is that right? Uh, no. But that's how it was for me. And it's probably how it is for other children of hovering parents.
I truly am not trying to make my parents feel bad with this post, as I genuinely believe they were doing what they knew to be right. What we need to change is what we feel is the RIGHT way to educate our children about their self worth, their decision making, and yes...even sex.
I am so proud to say, that despite my unhealthy relationships with teenage males other than my husband, I currently have a very healthy relationship with sex. I feel comfortable teaching my boys that SEX is not BAD. Sex is beautiful when shared with the right person. I am confident that my boys will treat their future partners with every bit the respect and sensitivity that their father did with me.
As Kasey Ferris puts it, "Why don't we, as parents, mutually do our best to raise responsible and capable children, instead? Why don't we guide our children to better choices, and help them learn how to recover when (not if) they screw up? Why don't we remember that this is all part of the process and focus on the examples we're setting for them and the messages they're receiving at home? Then maybe we could all take a collective deep breath and be more confident in the kids we've raised."
Boom. I don't have a mic, but if I did, I would drop it to that statement.
So, to the crazy over protective parents out there, I hear you. I do. It is tough to bathe, feed, and wipe the bums of our growing children and let them fly on their own.
Women, be strong. Be strong for your daughters, and for your sons. Be strong for YOURSELVES. Also...BE VULNERABLE. Don't be AFRAID to be vulnerable with them. Share your feelings. Be HONEST. Don't shield them from pain. Fill them in on your mistakes and why they were, in fact, mistakes. But also fill them in on how those mistakes taught you the right path.
Women, LOVE YOURSELVES. Respect yourselves. Seriously. Whatever you need to do to empower yourself, do it. Own it.