I recently read a Facebook post in which a mother stated that she and her husband made an agreement that when they became parents never to allow any males to babysit their daughter. The only exceptions being one male teacher.
Her reason behind it is that she believes that since most sex offenders are men, she is eliminating the risk of her daughter ever becoming a victim of sexual assault. While I read this article, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief.
As a mother I understand. I understand the momma bear desire to protect our children. To identify risk and be the barrier between our littles ones and harm. However, if we are going to be vigilant to the risk we shouldn’t use a pin light, but rather a spotlight to identify perceived threats.
My husband and I have a very select group of individuals that we allow into the lives of our children. We are diligent in our role of protecting their innocence and the things, people, places, and experiences that they are exposed to. The truth of the matter is that while I understand her thinking, I believe that it is not realistic and quite actually may do more harm than good.
Fact: We are a society made up of both men and women.
Fact: Women can also be sexual offenders.
My issue with this mother is that she is not focusing on what I truly believe to be the issue, which is teaching her child about developing and trusting her instincts. My husband and I are huge believers in our children honing their instincts. It is imperative that they learn trust vs. distrust and to “go with their gut” when they feel they are in a potentially dangerous situation. As a rule, we do not force our children to hug adults when they first meet them. We teach them to shake hands and exhibit good manners, all while making certain that they only allow those in their personal space when they feel comfortable. This tool of protecting what we refer to in our house as “their bubble” is a skill that will carry them through their entire lives.
Let’s take this one step further, shall we? As an adult what baggage will this child be bringing into her intimate relationships, having been taught to never trust anyone of the opposite sex?
Intimacy and trust are tools that are taught.
We teach children about intimacy from the moment there are born. We hold and caress our newborns. Soothing them by kisses and rubbing their back. They learn trust vs. distrust as we respond to their needs, pulling them close to our chest, and whispering words of love into their ears. This evolves as they become older and we communicate to them as children and teenagers that they can confide in us, that we will love unconditionally, and that we are not only involved but also engaged in their development. They are learning by example with the hope that they will carry these skills into their relationships as adults.
So, while I can appreciate these parents feeling as if they are protecting their daughter from the harm in the world their approach, in my opinion, is unrealistic. It’s truly as effective as me sending my children across the street, but never having taught them to look both ways for cars before crossing.