How To Teach Your Teen Son To Respect Women
The sexual harassment revelations that have been on the news for the past few years have provided the perfect avenue for parents to address this thorny issue, especially with their teen sons.
As a parent, you might wonder how early you can start imparting respectful teachings and behavior to your teen sons. The best time to start is when they are young. You can start by teaching them about boundaries and respect, then gradually expand the lessons to encompass respecting women.
The earlier you start, the better chance you have of countering any negative messages that society might be sending your son. It’s no secret that your son will start noticing and internalizing messages about women and how to treat them from media, social media, their friends and peers. Oftentimes, these messages are misogynistic, sexist and promote negative stereotypes. The roots of sexual harassment, domestic violence and other forms of aggression against women are normally planted from a young age and it’s up to parents to uproot them.
God gave you sons and it’s your duty as a father to provide the guidance they need when it comes to sex, approaching and interacting with women as well as having healthy relationships (whether sexual or not).
Raising Boys Who Respect Women
Here are a few pointers:
Be a good role model.
Children learn from following their parents’ examples so model the kind of behavior you want them to emulate. Don’t fall into the common parental mistake of saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” because that won’t work. Instead, let your sons see you helping their mother around the house and treating all women with respect-even those who aren’t related to you.
Kids can learn about boundaries from a young age so emphasize that people have a right to say no to someone else touching their bodies. Your son needs to know that it’s okay for him to refuse to be touched just as it’s alright for others to do the same. This way, they learn to respect not only their bodies but others’ as well.
Have a clear conversation about consent.
Consent can be a tricky subject to tackle but it’s one that can’t be avoided. Consent can and should be taught at any age and is especially important for teens to understand as they begin noticing and forming relationships with the opposite sex. So ensure that you have a continuous conversation about what consent means, when should it be sought or given, how to ask for it and various other nuances surrounding the topic.
Teach them to appreciate their full range of emotions.
We do a great disservice to our sons by teaching them to suppress their emotions. Sons are often told to “man up” or that “real boys don’t cry”. Unfortunately, this teaches them to ignore their feelings and is a recipe for future disaster. Teen sons who are in touch with their emotions are able to experience empathy and relate to others, which is vital if they’re to learn to respect women.
Build up your sons.
Just like girls, boys need to be empowered. Your teen son needs to have good self-esteem and self-confidence. This calls for you as a father to find ways to validate his feelings, empathize with them and build him up. Teen boys who are secure in who they are don’t feel the need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy and inferiority by picking on others.
Teaching your teen son to respect women is a process and the earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to reinforce those lessons and raise a son you can be truly proud of.