Teaching children to fear – Self defense and parenting part 2

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I felt like doing a controversial one today, so here it is…


Some of us, who make a point of accepting self-responsibility, happen to have children, and as is often the case with parenting, we’re not sure about how to teach our kids about self defense. We worry about kidnappers, so maybe we tell them “stranger danger” (which is more harmful than good). Maybe we worry about child molesters, so maybe we tell them that if anybody touches their private parts they are to tell us immediately (and then we go and undermine the sanctity of their bodies and force them to hug uncle Albert who gives them the creeps – and train them to ignore their gut feelings – why else do you suppose so many adults ignore them too?).


But what if there were some fairly simple things we could do (during the everyday course of being with our kids and helping them raise themselves) that could drastically cut their vulnerability to crimes? Wouldn’t that be cool?


How many of us don’t shout at our kids now and then? How many parents do you see getting angry with their kids when they’re not obedient? Well let’s not mince words here. How many people don’t use anger and threats (or actual violence) to scare and intimidate their kids into compliance? I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of that. One of the most obvious examples I saw was at a Christmas party, the little girl (about 5 I think) didn’t go to her mom when she called for her (she was heavily involved in something that she was obviously fascinated with – adults would consider it rude if someone interrupted them at such a time). Because she didn’t obey immediately her dad shouted at her so loud that I nearly shat myself, “GO TO YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW!”. There was genuine anger in his voice. Picture this same girl 20 years from the Christmas party, in a car with her boyfriend. He’ trying his luck, she’s saying “No” and pushing him off. Just image her reaction (from years of training) if he just looks at her with anger and disgust and raises his voice even just a little bit “Don’t you say no to me!” and then goes back to pulling her pants down. Picture how she just turns to a complying robot who immediately gets so intimidated that she completely withdraws into herself (just as I saw her do that night) and do exactly as she’s told because she’s just so scared.


Or maybe picture her when a man walks up to her outside a pub and whispers in her ear “Get in my car right now or I’ll hurt you.” She’s totally getting in that car. She’s been trained for years by her father to obey any slightly intimidating man, no matter how much she might want to get away.


And while this little girl’s example might sound extreme, how often aren’t kids faced with quiet, meaningful voices and angered faces? Or are trained to associate disobedience with getting smacked? And then we wonder why SD instructors whine about how victims comply with their attackers, even before the attack starts? Well they’ve been trained to think “obey and it’ll be alright” – so they get into the car with their future torture/murderer, they take off their clothes and lie still for their soon-to-be rapist.


At this point I know (from experience) that the parents are asking (well, moaning actually) “Well, how are we supposed to make them obey us?” This is the same as when people said that slavery is evil and should be abolished and people said “But who will pick the cotton?” Well, I don’t really care, if there’s something bad, you stop doing it and worry about the details later, so when these people are finished with tier straw man arguments we can continue.


Fortunately there are alternatives and answers on more effective ways to parent. They might require a mindset shift for some people, but believe me that it works better in the long run.


Whether you appreciated this perspective or got pissed off reading this, the next time you yell at your kid, or see someone else using negative emotions to control their kid’s behaviour, just picture a molester using the same tactics to scare your kid into compliance (to make sure your kid doesn’t tell you what’s going on). P.S. this if often easier to see when it’s not you who’s pissed off, because being angry and feeling threatened by your kid’s disobedience makes you less likely to actually be able to pull this off.

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