I recently read an article written by a mom who was giving advice to her daughter. It seems her daughter had seen a girl in her class having her bra strap snapped by some boy and was wondering how she should handle it if she ever found herself in that situation. The mother's advice? Punch the boy in the throat.
The comments to her blog post were pretty split down the middle as to whether or not she was giving the right advice...some were cheering her on in teaching her daughter how to defend and protect herself while others felt she was championing violence altogether.
I decided to ask my love how he wished our daughters to handle the situation. His response?
Punch the boy in the throat.
Now, let me say that I am utterly convinced that my girls, at this point in their life, will not have to deal with this kind of thing. We know our community well enough to feel comfortable that none of the boys or young men in their circles would ever consider such a thing. We also know that our daughters will not always be in such a well known well protected community.
We do want them to know how to handle themselves and we certainly want them to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not and how they should demand to be treated. We would hope that as much as humanly possible they will choose communities where that kind of behavior would not be present. However, as our oldest is already in public college she knows that that kind of behavior would not seem out of place in that arena.
Thankfully, we have a friend who is a police officer and he has taught Sarah several different ways that she can defend herself. She knows how to literally box some one's ears, how to gouge eyes out, and how to aim for a wind pipe with the intent to break it. Next month she will probably take the self defense class the college offers.
But I think the self defense training begins waaaaay earlier and it doesn't look like what most of us would consider self defense training.
I mentioned wanting our girls to be uncomfortable around certain behavior but we also want them to be uncomfortable in certain situations. Claire is only nine years old but I want her to be uncomfortable if she finds herself in certain situations. If I send her out to the van because we're preparing to leave church one evening but get caught up in a conversation that delays me I don't want her to be comfortable with being the only girl outside with all the boys, or even worse, just another boy. Not because I am concerned that the boys are going to take advantage of her or behave inappropriately towards her, not at all. But if she is comfortable being alone with one of the boys in the dark parking lot of our church at nine years old, the odds are she will not be uncomfortable being alone with a boy in a dark parking lot of our church when she is twelve or thirteen. And that becomes very, very dangerous for her.
A wise friend once told me when we were speaking about modesty in general and bathing suits in particular that you should start out the way you plan to continue. It would be unwise as a parent to allow a certain behavior or practice for a certain time and then choose at some arbitrary time to decide that behavior is no longer allowed. If you don't want a five year old who runs around out of control then don't allow your two year old to run around utterly out of control.
It's a kind of parenting that is very deliberate and has one eye already looking down the road. It's not easy all of the time and can make other people uncomfortable as if you are calling their parenting into question.
It may sound callous but I am not really concerned with how someone else is raising their kids. Not because I just don't care but because I know my children won't always been in what we would consider ideal or perfect situations or communities.
And I want my girls to carry themselves in such a manner that a young man would think twice before snapping her bra strap.
And if he can't see that she isn't the kind of girl that would be okay with having her bra snapped then I want her to know how to punch him in the throat.