Thursday, March 4, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

Yesterday, a friend of mine checked her 13 year old daughter’s text messages and was shocked to find some sexually explicit texts from a boy. Apparently, he had broken up with her and it started with him basically saying that he just “didn’t want a relationship”, etc, and her not really understanding why. But then he told her he would still be “friends with benefits,” but it had to be a secret – she couldn’t tell anyone. Now here is where the rest of us (not being a teenage girl in this horrible-to-girls society) start hearing the DING DING DING of warning bells going off. Because if a guy wants you to keep your relationship a secret for ANY REASON – he is not the guy for you. But she is a teenage girl, and sadly didn’t tell him to fuck off.

He went on to say that if she didn’t keep it a secret, he would “spread some dirty secret around school that will make everyone hate [her] guts.”

Next, the conversation turned to pretty sexually graphic (especially for 13-14 year olds), and included him trying to pressure her into doing things she clearly is not ready for and that her mom was shocked to read.

Delightful kid, huh?

But the big issue her (for me, at least) is not how much of an asshole this kid is (for the record – big, HUGE asshole), but why on earth would a smart, cute, nice girl like her not see how much of an asshole this kid is? And I think the answer says a lot about teenage girls (and boys).

Teen boys are desperate for sex. Teen girls are desperate for love. This is a dangerous combination. All peppered throughout this conversation was “I love you.” He said it in nearly every text. I love you babe. You can’t tell anyone about us. I love you. I’ll make everyone hate your guts. Baby, I love you. I want you to [insert city sexual act here]. I love you. And sadly, a teenage girl will rarely ever see the threats and pressure and cruelty because they are so blinded by the “I love you.”

And when she put herself down, calling herself fat and ugly, he didn’t tell her she was thin or pretty. He said “I love you.” Which translates to teenage girl speak as “You ARE fat and ugly, but I love you.” Which translates into teenage girl thoughts as “I can’t do better than this guy, so I’ll put up with anything (or DO anything) to keep him. And this makes me so sad.

This kid isn’t bright enough to even realize what he’s doing. Sure – he must know that he is being cruel to her, but I don’t think he could even begin to hatch a plan that involved answering her self-deprecating comments with I love you instead of reassurances, and yet he somehow knows to do it.

Where do boys learn it?? I might be in the dark here, but I am pretty sure there’s no Academy of Manipulation and Cruelty for Teen Boys. And actually, that idea is less offensive to me than the reality – that it comes naturally.

My own Asshole Teenage Boy Story ended OK – but only because I had luck (mine), drunkenness (his), and anger (mine) on my side. But I know that there are many, many girls who have similar stories that didn’t end so well.

Everyone’s first reaction on hearing this kind of stuff is “I’m locking up my daughter!” and understandably so. But what about our sons? Maybe because I have a son this age it hit me, but my first thought was, “I need to talk to my son about this.” We have talked to him about sex, but we need to do more. We need to teach him to be respectful and kind. No matter how uncomfortable it may be to do, we need to teach him whatever it takes so that he is never EVER that kid.

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7 comments:

Elle said...

I think the teen years are what scare me most about having kids (and why I am so not ready). I can't believe how young these things start now. And I'm only 25 so it wasn't that long ago that I was in Junior High. Ack! Kudos to you on talking with your son about these things. If only every parent did the same.

Logical Libby said...

I hate the fact it is almost a rite of passage for teenage girls to deal with boys like this. Some one us have to deal with them over and over before we say fuck it.

I hope I raise my daughter that she learns to say it early.

AmyLK said...

Son is 11 and you're right. its time to teach him to be the right person. now to figure out how. LOL

Karen said...

Becky's best friend could be that girl. It's been a long few months here, dealing with so many issues. And yes - we need to all be responsible for our boys because all too often it's only the girls that people think of protecting. If we'd raise our boys right, we wouldn't have to worry so much about the girls.

Burgh Baby said...

You are so, so right in your last paragraph. 100% right.

Jennifer said...

EXACTLY what Dan and I said when I read him your tweets the other day. It's one thing to raise a girl with enough self-respect to tell a guy like that to shove it, but it's also important to raise boys that treat girls well. The whole thing makes me want to throw up, argh.

albamaria30 said...

I'm going to sound like a Judgey-McJudgerson here (not of you, G; you are absolutely doing the right thing by talking with your son), but you ask "where do they learn it?"

They learn it at home.
They learn it from other boys at school.
They learn it from the TV and movies and video games.

This is why we ALL have to talk to our kids — boys and girls. "how does this make you feel?" "what do you think about a person who acts like that?" "what would you do if someone talked to you like that?" Tell them what is wrong, what is right, what the best we want from them is.

There's a lot going on right now about a certain football player in our town. And I keep thinking about the girl. And what I keep thinking is: "Dear God, let me raise my girls so that they have better judgement than that 20yo girl." If that were my daughter, I'd be just as mad at her (well, maybe not) for getting herself into this mess. I mean, I'd go to the mat for her. But, man, I'd be pissed, too.