Are you prepared for your child to notice the opposite sex? How are you going to teach them proper behavior? When are you going to give them the talk? Sexuality is everywhere in our culture. Kids are getting exposed to it at a younger age all the time. What is going to be your response and or role in dealing with this? Here are the facts. Your kids are going to learn above sexuality, love, and romance either with you or without you. If you don’t take an active role in this area of development, their understanding and behavior can be far less healthy than you hope.
We live in a society that has a double standard when it comes to relationships. We tend to worry about our daughters far more than our sons. As a matter of opinion, it appears that many boys live in a high five world, wild girls try to avoid shame. More difficult than when I was in school, our kids and young people have their private lives more and more on social networks. Branding and labeling have cost young people their self-esteem and in some cases, their lives. Dads, it is imperative that you become involved and not shy away from the uncomfortable discussions.
First of all, remember that you are the example for your children. How women are to be treated will be learned by your example. Own it. The next point is that your child’s interaction with the opposite will directly correlate with their self-esteem and self-worth. For your daughters, when you tell them how much you love and cherish them, this will embed a standard that they will insist on being met. The more important they feel, the more respect they will demand. Your boys need to learn chivalry and gentleman ways that will increase the amount of respect that he gets from others.
I taught my boys that they needed to treat girls the way that they wanted boys to treat their sister. I had no problem with them getting the attention of the young ladies. To be honest, I thought it was cool. The issue becomes, what are you going to do with that attention? I always put the responsibility on them. I insisted that if a mistake was going to be made, it was on them. Some of you may disagree. However, I believe that honor, respect, and accountability was always theirs to manage.
For my daughter, I started earlier. “You are beautiful.” “You are strong.” “I love you.” “I am so proud of you.” These statements and more became truth for my daughter. She was/is important. She was worthy of a gentleman and nothing less would do. There would be no tolerance of a self-indulged loser. If you wanted to hang around her, it was on her terms. I will tell you that my daughter also required more mental discipline than the boys. She needed reality checks to keep her from developing an attitude that would drive people away. Guys, this was much more difficult for me than dealing with boys. However, it was soooooooo worth it.
My advice and rule about mingling with the opposite sex came down to a simple practice. Be public. Privacy is where screw-ups happen. Just be in the public eye. This does not lend a hand towards questionable behavior. No one of the opposite sex was allowed in our home if a parent was not there. The same held true for when they visited the homes of their friends. This really takes the pressure off and deters the suspicion of others.
For today’s parents, let me say that socializing your children to the opposite sex is good. Sheltered kids usually make more mistakes. They are more naive and victimized more. Education and open communication is a must. When they can grow to see that you are in favor of healthy interactions instead of the opposition, it will keep communication open and lead towards healthy development. Make no mistake that I am throwing caution to the wind or encouraging you to take the “it’s natural” approach. That would be stupid. Children must be guided and communicated with. Discipline is necessary. To take the “it’s natural” approach is a cowardly way for a parent to avoid saying what is right and wrong. If you want to argue the point further, left to nature, a male will try to mate with as many females as possible. Let’s not go down that road.
It is not easy being a dad during this stage of development. It requires not only communication but displays of trust and encouragement for appropriate relationships. Your children must see you as an example and a guideline, but not their adversary. Once you get to that point, communication will break down. Then you are left with “nature”. Be there form them. Be the example that they need. Be the best dad possible.