For the first time, my son slept over a friend’s house. As we prepared his overnight bag, I caught myself telling my son “be good; behave…”. I stopped myself because a warning bell went off in my mind. What exactly was I doing by saying “be good”?
We teach our kids to respect their elders, to obey grown-ups and to do what they are told by other parents and teachers. Children are born with natural trust, curiosity, and an inclination to want to please. By emphasizing these natural tendencies as good behavior, children can become prey.
In our homeschooling we have covered stranger danger. I thought it was important to make sure my son knew the basics if someone attempts to grab or lure him away- to feel empowered to scream, run away,bite, kick and tell someone. By telling my son that he is special and he has power, I ensure he feels empowered to stand up for himself.
However, am I not stripping that empowerment away by instructing him to be good and to behave? Its a trap really that as parents we worry so much about our kids embarrassing us or doing something that implies they weren’t raised right.
So as he packed up his toothbrush, I stopped saying the cliche and potentially harmful things parents say. Instead, I looked at him in the eye and reminded him that he should listen to his gut, do what feels right, behave like the powerful person he is and that I am a phone call or text away should anything make him feel uncomfortable.
In the end, our kid’s manners matter little if those same manners put them in harms way.
Article By Nuria Almeida
Picture By Jennie Faber