Yesterday I watched an 8 yr old boy ask his mother's boyfriend to stop 5 times because the boyfriend tried to take the ball out of his hand. Then, while he was trying to put his shirt on, the 8 yr old boy ask his mother's boyfriend's son to stop 3 times, then whispered for him to stop 2 more times for the same reason. I offered to hold the ball while he put his shirt on, which he gave me gladly. The boy and the father laughed at him. After he took it back, the boyfriend went right up from behind him and tipped it out from under his arm. The boyfriend hid it in his shirt. The young boy was so mad, again asking to stop and asking for it back. It was clear on this boys face that this wasn't ok, and he tried expressing his needs. To which his mother simply said to her boyfriend, "this is all you...You take care it." The boyfriend was laughing, thinking it was funny. He thought he was being funny and playful. But he wasn't. It was clear that this wasn't a game that the 8 yr old agreed to play. Then the boyfriend gives the ball back and says, "We are going to make a man out of you." It hurt me and made me so angry to hear him say that. What that means, is that anything and everything he is now is worthless. That is the message he gave him.
Not one person gets to decide what kind of person someone needs to be. This boy is gentle, and sweet. He should be seen for who he is, not for what he isn't, and definitely not for what others want him to be. And that should be honored and respected. It breaks my heart that no one heard his no. What they are teaching him is that no means yes, and stop means continue. People wonder why there is bullying, teasing, harassment, rape.
I don't know what the boyfriend's intentions were, but it was clear to me that this 8 yr old boy felt helpless.
And you know what? In order for the young child to feel better, to
re-claim his power, he will find someone else to do this too, someone
younger or someone that wouldn't know how to defend themselves...someone
he could over power. He will make them feel the way he felt
We are the ones responsible for raising children to be good people. That includes doing good things. Good parenting requires listening to them, respecting them, seeing them for who they are, showing them they are worth it, they are special, and they matter.
The next time you tickle, or tease, if you think you are being funny with them, check in with them. Stop when they ask you to stop, listen when they say no.
What you are doing is showing them they are worth having boundaries. Showing them it is ok to have limits, and to change their mind. You are showing them they have power in who touches them and who doesn't. And how to communicate when it is uninvited.
ALL Children need this not just girls.