Recently there have been reports of major sports stars who have been involved in domestic violence. Sports organizations are coming under fire because of how those organizations are handling players involved in domestic violence. Flying under the radar are the men and women who abuse their loved ones and the victims who are impacted forever. The Center For Disease Control states (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs-fact-sheet-2014.pdf):
” One in 4 women (22.3%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an
intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have experienced the same.”
My dad raised me to respect women, to cherish women, and to never lift a hand against women. I have heard about other dads raising their boys the same way. My question is: What do I teach my girls? What do other dads teach their girls?
I know my girls are still very young and I probably shouldn’t even be thinking about the what if’s: What if they get bullied at school? What if they get hit? What if they get into an abusive relationship later on in life? My oldest just started kindergarten (the age when the rules of society are starting to be taught/learned) and my 3-year-old has 2 maybe 3 more years before she starts kindergarten while my 11-month-old just started standing on her own. I don’t need to worry about the what if’s right now do I?
I know my girls will face teasing and bullying at school. They will face heartache and disappointment from different aspects of life: bad grades in school, broken trust from a friend, maybe even a boyfriend (pray for that young man), and even from their mom and me.
What do I teach them? How do I teach them? Is there a way to tell them they do not have to become a victim of abuse? I’m not blaming victims for what happens. I know there are circumstances when an abuser just overpowers their victim to the point where their victim is afraid of doing anything. I’m just curious to know if I can teach my girls how to stand up for themselves, protect themselves and prevent them from becoming another statistic (we lock our doors to prevent theft, we create incredibly difficult, and forgettable passwords to prevent hacking, we eat certain foods to prevent illness etc…). Should I teach my girls an ancient form of self-defense, or even the more modern SING theory (Solar-plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin…yes I went there… Thank you Miss Congeniality for possibly giving me some advice)? How do I prepare my girls for people who abuse others?
I do not promote violence. I work hard at teaching my children to use their words instead of their fists but for the love of everything good and decent, if someone is about to raise their fist to my girls I do not want them to just sit there and get hit (so help me, the carnal man inside of me would want to go Jackie Chan on that person/group if that ever happens).
My oldest is afraid of vacuums, my 3-year-old screams as if her life is in danger when a flying bug that even remotely resembles a “stinging” bee flies by, while my 11-month-old screams bloody murder if she sees any man who is not her daddy. My girls are ignorant of the world around them. They don’t know how to protect themselves.
I don’t tear down their self-esteem. I try to instill confidence in them whenever I can (or whenever I allow myself to let them GROW). I do my best to use a calm but firm voice when disciplining them. I don’t beat them into unconsciousness, nor do I leave marks on their fragile, little bodies.
I have no advice to give them when dealing with bullies, friends, or people who take their anger too far. Words and teasing will hurt; we can work through that. Getting picked on about their clothes, looks, personality, or whatever else there is to get teased about can be hashed out through listening to their frustrations and heartache (not fixing but simply listening). Things will change. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day but they will change overtime.
What do I tell them when someone gets physical? Abusive? I was never abused by my parents. Looking back now at my teenage years, there were times when I had “friends” that would hit me or kick me. They did it out of kicks and giggles. I know I didn’t want to be hit nor kicked. That’s not how I am. They would always say lighten up or just fight back but I didn’t want to. I’m not a fighter. Eventually, I succumbed to their pressure and entered a very dark time in my life (through God’s grace, He brought me out alive and well).
Through observation at local events like the park or sporting events, I see kids going beyond rough-housing by throwing bottles at each other or throwing sticks or rocks or whatever else they can find. What do I say? What do I teach my girls? How can I prevent them from getting involved in abusive friendships/relationships?
I know I need to start with prayer and put my girls in the hands of the LORD. I also need to love their mother, honor their mother, and respect their mother. I also need to love my girls, respect my girls, and show honor to my girls. Those 3 things are the most important things I can give to my girls.
2 Bible verses come to my mind: James 1:19-21 (NIV) says “19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
Matthew 6:34 (NIV) says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Number 1: I need to show my girls what a man is by being slow to anger and being quick to listen. Number 2: My worrying will do no good and I need to put my girls in the hands of the LORD.