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22 August 2014

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Jenny

The inappropriate things that happened to me as a teenager have impacted how I intend to parent teenagers, no doubt about it. The difference I think is that most of the appalling sexually harassing things that happened to me were in the context of being left alone for long stretches of time, unsupervised, with "friends." Because of these experiences, my children will have a parent available at home throughout their childhood. One of us will be there, no matter what, because bad things happen when parents are not around. Now I don't mean around as in hovering or smothering or overprotecting, but I definitely mean home and not at work.

But this is a different thing than going to a store by yourself or getting a job. Situational awareness is very important and also the ability, for a girl especially, to be able to drop being nice and use whatever heavy, pointy umbrella that might be necessary.

mandamum

Hmm...I appreciated reading this. Food for thought.

Here's another question - a situation I run into way too often. If my children are, say, standing in line for something, and another child is in line with an adult, often the adult will push his/her party in front of my children. If I am with them, I can say, "hey, sorry, we're in the line too. The end is back there," and more often than not, that will have an effect. If my kids try to say something similar, they are merely ignored or treated as the bad guys. Do I take this (and have them take it) as just example of being a less "powerful" player in the field, which they may experience in different time in different ways? After all, life isn't always fair. Or is there a better way for them to seek equal treatment, even without an adult nearby willing to elbow out their competition?

mandamum

And another question/situation :) Neither of my questions are really about safety in the sane mom revolution, but rather things that bug my kids when I send them off to use their independence.

Recently, I sent my 8yo into the store to pick up our phone-order pizza. She had her cash, and the pizza was in her name. She was a little nervous because it was the first time she'd done this, but game. And then she came out near tears because she had been told she needed her mom with her. So I went in (to find the pizza wasn't even out of the oven - can't even pass on that info to an unaccompanied child?) and passed the time talking to customer service and management. Store management said no age limits, but apparently pizza station manager had some (unclear) limit due to people changing orders/complaining when children were involved? And possibly due to kids using debit cards?!? I need to follow up with them for future. Anyway, now my 8yo is crushed and I'm not sure she'll be up for a repeat. When I do send her on another such errand, I really want to find a guaranteed success for her....

So... how to deal with "we don't serve your kind here" when applied to kids?

mandamum

OK, and here are some thoughts on the actual topic:

I connected very much with your comment about sending boys into male-only environments by themselves. I have 5 kids, and only one boy. He is getting to (IS, really) the age where it's not really fair to other people to have him in the women's locker room/bathroom/what have you with me, but it seems incredibly unfair to him to say to him, "you are different from ALL OF US, so you will have to be EXILED to that locker room/bathroom/etc over there BY YOURSELF while we ALL go in here together." It was clearly a big stressor to him this summer at our local pool (to the point he was starting to say he didn't want to swim, to avoid having to go change and shower in the tiny changing room right off the pool deck). When his dad is with us, no problem, but his dad often isn't with us during the weekday. And I don't want to just say, "Look, this is how it is, deal with it." I want to leave him a cushion so he can listen to his comfort level (or lack thereof). (I found The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift to be very thought-provoking.) BUT.... And I'm not ready yet to have the kind of good touch/bad touch conversation I should probably have before sending him into such places by himself without even a brother along.

Maybe it has something to do with my son being younger, and with my lack of trauma in this area, but I also worry more about him in social interactions (and imagined ones, going forward) than my older girls. I know I'll have to work with all of them on setting and protecting boundaries, being safe and common-sensical, etc. Beyond that, well, I backpacked around Europe alone in college, and I want that possibility for (any of) my children as well. To allow others to make "being a girl" into a handicap is another way to allow oneself to be victimized.

Sorry, not very too-the-point today. But thanks for provoking thoughts!

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