I have been asked to share my thoughts as a male on the issue of dating violence. Much of what has been written in the past (in this forum and others) has directly addressed the victims or perpetrators of these violent acts. I would like to address another audience.
Dear Parents of Young Men,
You and your son may not know this, but in the next romantic relationship he is in, he is (statistically speaking) more likely to be a perpetrator of violence than the victim. How could your sweet young man—school president, star varsity athlete, honor student—commit an act of violence (physical, emotional) against his partner? He probably didn’t begin his relationship with those intentions. But let’s be honest— who is he modeling his relationship from? His father who yells at his mother or sometimes sometimes loses control? His friends that brag about violence against women using dehumanizing language? Or maybe it’s just the general culture around him (TV, movies, sports, music, pornography) that floods his psyche with images of aggression towards women?
Let’s be honest, those are just excuses. Influences, possibly. But still excuses. Your young man must take personal responsibility for his own actions. But as a parent, you can play a role. No, you must play a role. Your influence can make it easier for your son to make the right choices.
- Model loving behavior. Show your teenage son how men and women in relationship should treat each other. When you fall short of your standard, point out to your son what you and your spouse could have done better. Easier said than done, I know. But even if you struggle modeling the right behavior, perhaps you could surround your son with other people who do? That might include pruning away some his “friends” who are already in unhealthy dating relationships.
- Observe his behavior. How do you know what to correct if you don’t know how your son acts? How does he talk to the women he is closest to in his life, his mother, his sisters? Is there behavior that can be corrected at home? When he does eventually bring that young woman home (and you should be meeting the young women your teenager is dating), please watch his behavior. Take mental notes on the way he treats his date.
- Don’t just talk—teach. If he’s in a relationship, ask him privately how things are going. Instruct him on how to handle certain situations. Discuss appropriate boundaries and how to adhere to them. Teach him that it’s not ok to ask a girl to send pictures of her naked body. And then to send those pictures out when she refuses to have sex. Warn him about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Teach him that it does matter if she or he is drunk or under the influence. Teach him that it doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. Teach him that no ALWAYS means no.
- Get help. If you’re not sure how to manage your son or if he’s already been a perpetrator, find help. Talk to his doctor. Find him a therapist. Connect with online resources. Your son may not be the only one who needs help. Mom and Dad, do your own intimate relationships need a hard look in the mirror? Helping your son may mean helping yourself first. Be courageous.
Though your son is ultimately responsible for his actions, you are responsible for how you raise him. Have you given him the tools to be the type of young man who treats women with respect?
I am writing this letter as a man. As a man with three daughters. Who may someday date your young man. You love your son, and I love my daughters. And I love all the young men who come through the doors of my clinic. I love them like sons. During my visit with these young men, when I talk to them about their romantic relationships, I make a point to discuss the very issues I mention above, because I want them to be men of character, men of honor. So I implore you—don’t take my letter as an affront. We have the same goal. Together, let’s raise a generation of young men who honor women.
Please share this letter with those in your life who you think it would benefit most. A spouse? Your son? Even your daughters. Your daughters should know that they deserve to be loved and respected. That violence has NO place in any intimate relationship.
Dr. Blankson is a part of Girls to Women Health and Wellness in Dallas and launched Young Men’s Health and Wellness in 2015. He will be participating as one of the volunteer experts as part of DCT’s talkbacks after the show.
Teen Scene Players Present
dont u luv me?
By Linda Daugherty
February 12 – February 21, 2016
Recommended for ages 13 and up – NOT suitable for children under 13-contains strong situations and language
Tickets and More information – www.dct.org