Little kid examples surprised me. Big kid examples surprised some of the bigger kids. These are not the kind of examples that inspire or motivate, well they did motivate me but not in the normal sense of drawing in goodness, rather in a defensive motivation, Typically I am very much on the offense here at school, and especially in this blog. Nevertheless the value of defense came ringing through in the examples.
OK quit beating around the bush, and get to the point of the defense. It’s Lori’s fault, she started it, ever so gently with her son pulling the fire alarm. She tells it better, hang in there at least until the part about the dogs, that’s what convicted me of the importance of defense. Here’s her note.
Happy Sunday Morning to you! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the newcomers on this email list.
I love my life so much. I love coffee. I love my people. I love writing.
A little warning: we will be going deep today.
First, I’d like to share a story with you.
About twenty years ago, I was at the YMCA with my (then little) family and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. It was loud and caused my heart rate to skyrocket. I clutched my baby Mitch and grabbed the hand of toddler Rachel.
I looked around. I could not find four-year old Eric. Mommy Panic.
Then I saw him. My boy was standing in front of the pulled fire alarm, hands on his ears, with a look of sheer surprise and terror on his face.
My child, a new reader, had sounded out the words, “Pull Here,” and had complied.
The fire trucks came. THE FIRE TRUCKS CAME.
The manager stood near our family as the fully-decked out firemen came into the YMCA.
Words were exchanged. Fingers were pointed.
A fireman knelt down by my son and explained to him about fire alarms.
What a deep, defining moment for me.
I realized, clearly, that there was more to this parenting gig than I had first anticipated.
I realized that I needed to step into my role as MOTHER, which meant I needed to ACTIVELY guide and teach and prepare my children to live in our world.
I share that with you because it’s easy to think that our only role as parents is to more or less fulfill the Corporal Works of Mercy:
- Clothe the naked
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Shelter the homeless
- Comfort the sick
Think about that. That’s where we spend the majority of our time!
But we also have to “Instruct the Ignorant.” And our babies were born ignorant. They need to know things.
That being said, there are about one zillion things we could TEACH our children. We live in this Beautiful World of Information.
There are many shiny lights vying for our attention.
It’s hard to figure out what is Most Important.
Today I’d like to invite you to a crucial teaching moment with your young child. If you don’t have a young child, please forward this email to your sister or neighbor with small children.
Okay, I am now going into the deep. Grab another cup of coffee.
You know that the internet has brought much GOOD into our lives; it has also brought the CRAZY to us.
You know that pornography is part of that crazy. It is a supernatural stimulus; the modern day kryptonite.
When someone, even a good someone, starts consuming pornography, they will need more and more of the crazy to reach the “feel good” hit.
No matter the age, once someone begins this addictive behavior, they are now walking on a brand new road.
Kids that have seen porn can become naturally curious and want to act out what they’ve seen.
Yes. That is the world we now live in.
The cold hard fact, more and more kids are being molested. This is happening by people they know and trust.
What does that mean for my young children? How can I protect them?
Oh my goodness, what do I need to do to protect them?
My first reaction: avoidance.
I mean, GROSS. I don’t want to think about this and I certainly don’t want to talk to my innocent little kid about this topic.
HEAR ME. WE ALL WANT TO AVOID THIS.
Or, we can do this together.
I can imagine your reaction. You are thinking that I have lost my mind. Maybe. Maybe not.
I think of my young Eric. I had not educated him about a fire alarm. I could have simply spent five minutes explaining what it was and then every time we walked by a fire alarm, I could have asked him good questions about it, allowing him to truly UNDERSTAND it.
In the same way, we can educate our children about their bodies and how no one is to touch them. And we can do it with ease and confidence.
Does it feel scary?
I guess so. But I think of the alternative. I’d rather prep my 9-year old David and give him tools than be on the other side of this thing.
Okay, now let’s talk tools.
This is a simple yet thorough video:
My Body Belongs to Me – Spanish – Si prefieres español, aquí tienes!
I also highly recommend this book:
It’s the one we use with our kids. I read it to David about a year ago but it’s time for another inoculation.
I know you are busy. But if you have a son or a daughter under the age of ten, join me today. Create a time when you can sit down with each child (this is not a group project) and watch the video together.
Afterwards, ask him or her, “Have you ever been touched inappropriately?” Or “Has anyone ever touched your privates?”
Don’t freak if the answer is yes. Quietly get more information. Assess the situation. I know people that have had to press charges, I know people that have had to confront others.
You are your child’s advocate. Step into the role. You can do this.
If your child says no, they have never been touched, then do a cartwheel in your mind. Smile. Reassure them that you love them always and that if anything like that should ever happen, they must tell a trusted adult right away.
Finally, it’s powerful if you can role-play the situation. This doesn’t happen in a dark alley. It happens with people they know, like and trust, which is probably the most confusing thing EVER.
So use a realistic example of two kids playing together, or a slightly older kid saying something like,
“Hey, let’s play dogs. I’ll touch your privates and you can sniff mine.”
Clearly teach your child to say, “NO.”
And then teach them what it means to go find a trusted adult.
They can also say something like “I feel like puking, please call my parents,” which gets attention quickly.
Practice this several times.
Finally, admit your feelings. “Honey, I’m sorry that we even have to go over this. It makes me feel yucky.”
That will normalize their own feelings of yucky feelings.
HOWEVER, let them know that teaching this skill is part of your job. You have taught them to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. It’s the same sort of skill. It’s part of life.
This next part is so simple, but HUGE. I’ve found that after a conversation like this, I need my child close to me so we make pizza dough or cookies or we play a game together, something ordinary to get our balance back.
You can do this. I can do this.
I, Lori Doerneman, commit to talking with my 9-year old today, Sunday, April 15, 2018. I will talk to David about his private parts and how no one should ever touch his private parts. They are part of HIS BODY.
- Commit to talking to your child and put a time boundary on it.
- Watch the video My Body Belongs to Me first. If you like the message, then watch it with your child.
- If you don’t want to use the video, just use the concepts from the video. Your body is yours. You have parts that are private. No one should ever touch those parts.
- Ask the question, “Has anyone ever touched your privates?”
- Listen. Respond appropriately.
- Create an action plan so they KNOW what to do if they are ever in this situation.
- Role play.
- Admit that this topic makes you feel sad BUT it’s part of your job and you love them SO MUCH.
- Do something fun to get the balance back.
OR you can use any other technique. The point: Your Child Deserves to Know How to Handle This.
There is a lot to this parenting gig. YOU are your child’s educator. Step into your role.
And I’d love love love to hear how it went.
Let me know!
Better together, Lori
SMMi back now……to conclude the longest blog ever posted here:
The same enlightenment based on example occurred in our upper grades too! This shared with permission from Mr. VanDyke:
“The students were a little surprised by some of the tactics that are used by a potential predator but I think they see now how many different ways someone can go about doing that. I feel like they have a pretty good grasp on what to do if a situation like that were to occur, and also make sure they are assertive and non-aggressive. I reminded them of what Jeff Veley said in that if you become aggressive with an attacker, the attacker will only escalate the situation more, which (often) makes it more dangerous. ”
If you want to know exactly what the Safe Environment lessons include, here’s the diocesan link, grade level lessons are well marked. http://www.lincolndiocese.org/protection-of-youth/safe-environment-childrens-curriculum
May the Good Lord who is community and communion par excellence guide you in deepening your family bonds.