The other day, here on the blog, I wrote about my own experience with sexual assault and discussed how to talk to our daughters about the topic. (You can read that here if you missed it.) Today I want to discuss talking to our sons.
I have two boys who are 11 and 12 and honestly I haven’t had too many “conversations” with them other than the basic facts of life, but as they approach puberty, there is certainly much to talk about. In a culture that sexually objectifies women at every turn, from music to movies, advertising and social media, our boys are bombarded daily with sexual images they can’t un-see. It doesn’t take much imagination to comprehend how someone like Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein would prey upon women the way he did. Not to say that it is all the media’s fault, but we do have our work cut out for us as parents to raise up a generation of young men who know better and do better.
The conversations I need to have with my boys are becoming clear!
Have a healthy view of sex and women.
Sex was designed by God for procreation and pleasure inside of marriage. My desire for my boys is that they would save their sexuality for their wife and until they meet her and fall in love, they would treat everyone else like a friend. Sexual activity can wait. It’s not a popular choice and media and culture today will bombard them through screens and music with sexual images of women which may be confusing. I want them to remember, we are all more than the sum of our parts and have value and worth outside of our sexuality. I want to help them develop a habit of treating the opposite sex with respect and dignity and appreciate their value, the way they might want someone to treat their mom, sister, or future wife.
Work to keep your mind clean. Parents PLEASE help your boys with this!
Last night I was watching TV with my boys. It was a show we typically watch as a family but tonight the story line was about a single gal trying to gain the attention of an older man. It was over the top slapstick humor but she was doing things like bending way over in her yoga pants and tennis skirts and washing her car in a slow motion wet white t-shirt scene. My boys were uncomfortable and so was I. My son said “ This is getting awkward Mom.” I fast forwarded for a bit and then we just turned it off. This might seem extreme, but the more they see images of women as just sexual objects, the more it replays in their mind and becomes their norm. As young men whose bodies are full of hormones and whose minds are visually driven, it becomes all they think about and can even fuel sexual aggression. Which is why it is extremely important that they are careful what they view. The best way to keep something from replaying over and over again in their mind is to never put it there in the first place.
There are plenty of other healthy things to do, and view, and even read! They owe to themselves, God and their future wife to keep their mind and their thoughts as clean as possible. I told my boys tonight to hold each other accountable along with talking openly with their dad.
A SIDE NOTE TO DADS: How do you view, treat and talk about women? What do you watch on your screens? What messages does this send your sons? Do you know what your boys watch on their screens? So many young boys have already be exposed to pornography as it is so easily accessible these days. It plays a huge role in how our boys view women and can easily feed and fuel sexual aggression. Start from the top down and be an example of high standards and self-control. Value and respect your wife in front of your boys and heavily monitor what goes before their eyes.
Have boundaries, self control and respect.
I often talk to my daughters about personal boundaries, but its important that my boys hear this too. Where will they draw the line physically? Holding hands? Kissing? In the coming years they will need to draw their physical boundaries and be clear about them. There will be girls who will flirt and dress a certain way to get their attention and they can be very forward, which they will think it normal if they’ve have been filling their brain with sexual images. Some girls don’t always know what they want or have their own clear boundaries and it can be confusing. Boys should be prepared and clear, respecting themselves as well as the boundaries of the girls in their lives. Self-control is an admirable quality (one I appreciate in my husband) and important to teach our boys early on.
Don’t go the way of the crowd. Lead by example.
Guys will talk, and your son will see things on screens. Encourage him to be the guy that speaks up, shuts it down or turns the channel. Teach him to respect himself and his future wife enough not to get those images stuck in his head. If he sees sexual harassment (guys objectifying girls sexually by making rude or gross comments, gestures or even actions.) speak up, defend the victim, and get an adult to help you. Our boys should not tolerate sexual harassment or sexual assault and should always report it. They should be proud to let people see them treat women well.
A few thoughts for age appropriate conversations that will need take place with older boys. (high school or college perhaps)
When at parties, remember that binge drinking and drugs are never a good idea. They impair your senses and only lead to bad decisions.
If you see sexual assault at a party. step in to stop it, get an adult, or call the police.
If you yourself cross a line and feel sexually frustrated on a date, you should remove yourself from the situation immediately. Never cross a girls’ boundaries even if she said, “Yes.” and is now saying, “No”. That is her right and “No” always means “No”. Period. Never have sex with a drunk and passed out person. She cannot give consent at that point, consider it a “No.”
These are difficult conversations to have with our kiddos, I know! But they must be had for the sake of both our boys and our girls and their future. Which I do believe is bright. I believe we can raise a generation of men and women who respect each other and stand up for what is right; Who know better and do better.
The Bible says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice” (Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT).