The #MeToo movement: What parents can teach their children

Kinderling News & Features

In the wake of vile revelations around movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the internet had been flooded with women sharing their own harrowing stories of harassment and sexism under the #MeToo banner.

How do we make sure our daughters don’t become a statistic, and that our sons don’t become a part of the problem?

Dr Justin Coulson is a parenting expert and the father of six girls. He shares his views on how we can talk to our kids about these issues, and how to teach sons to behave.

How do you talk to daughters about this issue?

It can be hard to find the words, so start with some basic body safety conversations. 

Listen to Justin on Kinderling Conversation:

From age two, Justin and his wife teach their girls that no one can look at or touch, or ASK to look at or touch any part of their body covered by underwear or swimwear. As mum and dad it’s okay to wash those private parts in the bath, and it’s okay for a doctor to view these parts with permission when a parent is present. But this is the only time.

 :: Check out Kate Power's book My Underpants RULE! for more

It’s also important to note the difference between good touching and bad touching, and it’s really up to us to have that conversation with them.

And what about our sons?

There’s a conversation to be had with boys about consent. It starts by saying, ‘If somebody says no, what does it mean? The answer is, it means no.’

If you try to do anything with someone else - hold hands, kiss, touch - and they say no, it means no. And that’s when they need to back off.

How can we raise boys to be respectful?

Justin shares three simple things to emphasise with all kids.

1. Example, example, example.

This is Justin’s golden rule. “If we want to teach our kids anything, we need to teach by example,” Justin says. Men need to show women respect, and women need to show respect to each other.

2. Marry consent with empathy

“The next thing we should do is teach this idea of consent, but teach it in association with empathy,” Justin says. He suggests asking the following questions, to help them think about how their behaviour might impact on another person. How will someone react? What’s their response going to be? How will it make them feel inside? If we can get our boys and girls to pause and just think about other, we can genuinely change how they will behave. They will develop empathy and respond more positively.

3. Teach intimacy

From the very early age group and as our sons get older, Justin says it's important they learn about healthy relationships. Boys in particular need to understand more than just the mechanics of sex and the physical intercourse that occurs. They need to understand context, commitment and that feelings are involved.