Monday, May 04, 2009

Parenting Safe Children

An online message board friend of mine recently went to a workshop about "Parenting Safe Children".
There were many good things about this workshop - and she shared some things with us about dealing/teaching our children, which I thought were important to share with my blog readers who are parents:

1) Teach and Use the proper names for all your body parts. This is innate and easy for some of us, but not for all of us, but a penis, vagina, butt, breasts, etc. are the same as any other body part and we don’t make up names for our wrists or our ankles. If this is not possible for you, try the term “your private parts.” Here’s the reason this is important: a) It is shown (from countless interviews with abusers) that your child’s risk of being the victim of a molester is DRAMATICALLY reduced if they know the names of their private parts and do not use slang terms for them. It shows that their parents speak to them and are teaching them and there are easier targets that a molester can go after. B) if you’re child actually was abused and was brave enough to go tell someone, if they don’t use the proper term they may not be taken seriously or the person may not understand what they are talking about because they are not familiar with your family’s terminology. Use the proper names.

2) Make a “no secrets” rule in your home. If you have no secrets in your home then it will be harder for anyone to encourage your child to keep secrets from you. Just take the word out of your vocabulary. Surprises are different than secrets, (a surprise eventually comes out, right?), so make a surprise but don’t keep secrets. Keeping secrets is one way a molester will test whether or not your child is a good target and a technique used to try to isolate your child from you. Example, a sitter comes to your house and tells your child that if they don’t tell their mom/dad, they’ll give him/her ice cream or let them stay up late. But they can’t tell, or they won’t see the sitter again or mommy will be really mad at them. Ideally, they’d say “I can’t do that , we don’t have secrets in our house” or maybe even say yes but tell you later anyway. BUT the flip side is that they do say yes and don’t tell you, then the molester may ask them to keep further secrets (and this can go on for a LONG time) until they are sure that they will keep the ultimate secret. And at that point, your child may have kept so many secrets from you that they don’t know how to tell you this really big one and likely will feel responsible for all of this. Obviously this is in no way the child’s fault but the child may feel this way anyway. Don’t keep secrets in your home.

3) Teach your child the concept “You are the boss of your own body.” This means that you have to allow/empower your child to know that they have the right to say “no” when it comes to what they do with it. They don’t even HAVE to give you a hug or kiss if they don’t want to. Ask them for a kiss, don’t say “give mommy a kiss.” It’s a subtle difference but I think you can see it clearly. If your kid doesn’t want give gramma a kiss, don’t make them. It doesn’t have to be impolite but maybe they give her a high five instead or just wave hello. You’re the boss of your own body.

4) Implement and Teach Body Safety Rules which go along with the concept of being the boss of your own body and teaching boundaries. These are listed below:
a. No one is allowed to touch your private parts, unless you need help cleaning them or if they’re sick or hurt and the doctor or nurse needs to examine them. This includes siblings!
b. You are not allowed to touch someone else’s private body parts.
c. It is ok to touch your own private body parts as long as you do it in private.
d. No one is allowed to take pictures of your private parts or show you pictures of naked people.
e. You and all of your family members are allowed to have privacy when bathing, dressing and using the toilet
f. No one is allowed to make you kiss or touch them if you don’t want to (including relatives)
g. No one is allowed to kiss or touch you if you don’t want them to. You are allowed to choose who you kiss and touch and when you kiss and touch people. You have permission to say “no” and get away if anyone tries to touch your private parts or breaks any of your body safety rules. (you never have to do what a grown up tells you to do if the person is breaking your body safety rules)
i. If someone tries to or does touch your private parts, try to get away and then go tell!!!!
j. If someone tells you to keep a secret about touching private body parts, DO NOT KEEP IT.

5) Listen to your child, really listen. A child will likely not come up to you and say something like “mommy, I’ve been abused” or “mommy someone touched my privates” (although if we teach them to they might!) so you need to watch for the indirect language or behavior that “could” be a sign. Example given in class related to a family made up of divorced parents and 3 kids (2 boys and a girl). At the father’s home, there was only one extra bedroom so the kids traded off sleeping in there. The 2 boys got the room one week and the little girl would sleep on the sofa, and the next time, she got the room and the boys would sleep out on the sofa. The little girl would cry and beg her father to sleep in the bedroom when it was her turn for the sofa. Why do you think she wanted the bedroom???? Because she could lock the door. When she slept out on the sofa, one of her brothers would come out of the bedroom each night and rape her. Unfortunately, her father’s reaction was not “why don’t you want to sleep out on the sofa honey? What’s wrong?” He said something to the effect “ you spoiled brat, stop crying and get on the sofa.” I’m sure we can all imagine how that child might have felt.


thoughts and ramblings said...

This is great, Carrie. Thanks for posting this. I saved it!


kristine said...

Thanks for posting this. I also saved it.


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