I have a teen son and a young daughter. From speaking with other parents, most reacted to the ongoing media circus of Brett Kavanaugh by talking with their daughters about empowerment: why they should stand up for themselves and how good people will believe the truth in the end, etc.
This is an important step and needs to be done, but don’t forget about your sons.
Even if the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh are proven to be inaccurate, what the nation heard in the hearing chamber and in the press was far too familiar for many. As parents, it’s our duty to stop this generation of boys from making the same mistakes that could haunt them forever. Here’s what I told my son.
You are responsible for your actions…
Seems obvious, but hearing Kavanaugh’s answers clearly demonstrate how people can tell themselves that others are to blame for their situation. According to Kavanaugh this is all the fault of the Democrats, Dr. Ford, his high school yearbook committee and the press. In reality, he knew that you just don’t walk into a job on the Supreme Court without questions. If he wanted to keep his past life and possible poor choices (we all make poor choices from time to time) out of the public eye, he should have turned down the nomination or had a plan for showing stronger integrity now.
Son, you are in charge of yourself.
…and you should own and learn from your mistakes
Kavanaugh could have shown courage, honor and decency by admitting to past mistakes — especially as a young man —globally apologizing to those he wronged and explaining how that young Brett Kavanaugh is not the mature Judge Kavanaugh standing in the courtroom today. What we saw instead was a privileged adult man throwing a temper tantrum.
Son, don’t ever look for a scapegoat for your own actions. Own and deal with your mistakes or they will always hold power over you.
Learn to recognize a bad situation
Most of what we heard in the hearings and read about in the coverage had to do with out of control situations. Strong, well-prepared teens walk away from these situations all the time but are rarely praised for it.
Teens can spot the point where a party or a group just hanging out has become too risky and leave. “I gotta go. Text me later,” is all they need to say. Turn your teen into one of the kids who calls for a pick up instead of entering into a teen kegger house party. Don’t be afraid to tell them what’s out there and how it can end badly.
Son, social situations are “social”, not abusive, and can quickly cross the line. Get your Spidey Sense in tune with your surroundings and walk away when it tells you to. (I guarantee that if everyone is getting wasted, they won’t remember that you left anyway.)
Don’t intentionally lose control
Drinking, partying, using drugs are all choices. Teens want to experiment with these things because they are continually bombarded with the theme that losing control is a thrilling goal. That won’t go away. Teens can better deal with these situations if they are informed of the risks, the downsides and the lack of positive outcomes. There is a huge difference between having one beer at a friend’s party and being six-pack drunk.
Son, if you intentionally lose control, you will still be held accountable for the outcome and the outcome will never be good. It’s a gamble you can’t afford to make.
People say no. Respect it.
Her body is hers, his body is his. Individuals set their own boundaries and it’s their right to decide when enough is enough. There are no expectations and no one owes you anything. If someone says ‘no’ in any way, it’s final. Never plead, never try to convince, blackmail or cajole. Say okay and stop. Anything else is wrong and there will be consequences.
Son, the fundamental rule of being a good human is to respect others. Pressuring others to do things they clearly don’t want to, touching when you are told no and the desire for conquest is not only wrong, it will come back to haunt you tomorrow, in a week, in a year and even thirty years later.
Nothing is off the record anymore
The ubiquitous smartphone has changed everything. Someone will remember or have a video or photo and you may never live it down. Don’t forget that your peers record, text and share everything on their phones. The riskier or more dangerous something feels, the greater the desire to share it. There are no real secrets in the age of the internet.
Son, always act like your whole life is being recorded and posted to social media. Is what you are doing right now, what you want to be known for today and in ten years?
We owe it to our kids
Parents can raise good kids with a strong moral compass who can be trusted to walk away when the time is right and stop when they should. Talk to your kids. Describe what a bad situations look like and explain how to get out of them. If Brett Kavanaugh’s parents had done the same, then last week would have been very different.