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What do you tell little boys about hitting girls -


poppy
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My family is me, DH, DD8 and DS6.

 

My son is  a peanut, 40lbs, and just turned 6 last week. He is emotional and tends to hit or kick when he's angry.  I'm not concerned it's a problem. It's just a behavior we have to coach him out of. He's much better than he used to be.

 

My husband has been telling him "Never, ever hit a girl. Don't hit because you're mad,  and you should never, ever hit your sister or your mom or ANY girl.  Ever."

 

Obviously he shouldn't be hitting anyone, but, the only people he ever targets are family.

 

I can't think of any other gender-specific instruction we give to our kids.  We're liberal in most every way and fit a lot of the stereotypes. But this, this doesn't bother me, .... coaching a tiny little boy that it's morally more wrong to hit a girl than a boy.  Because he'll grow up to be a man, and it's never OK for men to hit women. I don't mind that being imprinted on the kids' brains. 

 

Anyway wondered what other families do.

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My side of the family just says "No hitting/kicking/biting". There are plenty of male cousins, nephews and grandnephews in my side of the family and much fewer female relatives. We don't want fist fights between boys either.

 

Hubby's brother and male relatives would say similar to your husband. There are much more girls than boys among hubby's extended family.

 

Hubby, his sister and his BIL would say no hitting. His sister has twin girls and they used to fight.

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We did the same when ours were young. I'm not so sure we needed to, though.

 

When they're small like that, everyone is so much bigger, including girls, and it's hard to understand why they're being told that girls are somehow more special than they are.

 

If I could do it again, I'd probably just say, "We never hit."

 

And as they grow I'd start adding, "We never hit, especially someone smaller than us." That would include women, girls, and smaller boys.

 

And when they are teens, I'd have a lovely discussion about how very threatening men can seem to women, so they need to be aware that some of the joking and roughhousing they can do with their guy friends is interpreted completely differently by the women/girls in their lives.

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I have two boys. They get told to keep their hands to themselves, and they are not to use their bodies to make other people do what they want. I want it imprinted on their brains that violence is never the answer to solve their problems, no matter who it is used against. 

 

It has never occurred to me to make non-violence gender specific.

 

I have said things like "In this house we don't hit or use our bodies to get our way.  The kids don't hit the grownups, the grownups don't hit the kids, the kids don't hit each other and the grownups don't hit each other. We also speak to each other with respectful and kind words. The grownups don't say mean things to the kids, the kids don't say mean things to the grownups, the kids don't say mean things to each other and the grownups don't say mean things to each other"

 

I've never seen the need to separate out wrestling or horseplay. Most of their friends are girls and they can take care of themselves on that front, lol. By the time my older boy got big enough to actually hurt any female friends, that sort of play had dropped off the radar anyway.

 

 

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Hmmm ... we've never talked to our 15 year old son in gender specific terms like that.  At least in terms of hitting/kicking (in terms of sex ed - yes).  We don't assault people physically - period.  My kid has never been in a position where I thought he might need to defend himself physically.  I'd prefer he run away and report if some other kid started hitting him.  He's small and skinny.  He weighs 109 at age 15 and 5'8"+. He was always tiny for age/grade.  I'm actually pretty thrilled he's 5'8" ish now.  He grew like a foot in 3 years time after just inching up in height and weight for years. 

 

My kid has never been overly physical like that though.  He went to kindy and got in trouble for too much hugging.  ROFL.  I've had to tell my daughter to get out of people's faces more than him.  I thought some other kid might out and slug her when she was younger. 

Edited by WoolySocks
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We tell them not to hit or kick unless it is a bad guy. I make sure to say that "bad guys" can be women as well. I don't want them to get the idea they can't hit a woman who is actually trying to hurt or kidnap them.

 

When they are teens I will be sure to emphasize that women and anyone smaller than them will feel threatened more easily than they will and to adjust their behavior accordingly.

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Well, since DS is decidedly the smallest person in the family, but DD is in the middle of puberty and there are certain spots that are more sensitive than others, we have been teaching him "you don't hit/kick/head-butt," full stop, and "You need to be careful when you hug that you don't put any pressure on sissy's chest because that's a really sensitive spot on girls and it hurts her."

 

Of course, with DD's emotional issues, we also deal with a lot of enforcing "DD doesn't want a hug, don't try and hug her or touch her at all right now" while at the same time working on getting DD to assert those boundaries without pushing/hurting/upsetting her little brother, who is usually just trying to comfort her and/or turn a hug from me into a group hug because when his sister is upset it upsets him.

 

The gender of the person and the reasons for the boundaries are secondary or irrelevant to enforcing that when a person expresses physical boundaries or not wanting to be touched a given way, you respect that--and you don't try and hurt anyone physically, period.

 

We emphasize a notion of chivalry as well, but with young kids it's more about respecting elders (opening doors, helping carry things) and not hitting unarmed/nonparticipant persons in games involving toy swords, nerf guns, water balloons/squirt guns etc.

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My family is me, DH, DD8 and DS6.

 

My son is  a peanut, 40lbs, and just turned 6 last week. He is emotional and tends to hit or kick when he's angry.  I'm not concerned it's a problem. It's just a behavior we have to coach him out of. He's much better than he used to be.

 

My husband has been telling him "Never, ever hit a girl. Don't hit because you're mad,  and you should never, ever hit your sister or your mom or ANY girl.  Ever."

 

Obviously he shouldn't be hitting anyone, but, the only people he ever targets are family.

 

I can't think of any other gender-specific instruction we give to our kids.  We're liberal in most every way and fit a lot of the stereotypes. But this, this doesn't bother me, .... coaching a tiny little boy that it's morally more wrong to hit a girl than a boy.  Because he'll grow up to be a man, and it's never OK for men to hit women. I don't mind that being imprinted on the kids' brains. 

 

Anyway wondered what other families do.

 

 

Not just, "Don't" but what about the converse?  You look out for others, especially those who are smaller or physically weaker and that goes for any gender.

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I do have to say that I was sad about some of these gender specific things when my girls were little. When Catherine, especially, was 4 or 5, she LOVED horseplay/ wrestling type stuff. Loved it. But little boys would be rough housing, and she would join in, and their mothers would invariably call them over and tell them they weren't allowed to wrestle with girls, while I was standing right there. It was a very sad and frustrating time. Different, because it was play and not aggression, but still. I tried to use it as an opportunity to teach consent, but that didn't tend to be the dominant paradigm.

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My family is me, DH, DD8 and DS6.

 

My son is  a peanut, 40lbs, and just turned 6 last week. He is emotional and tends to hit or kick when he's angry.  I'm not concerned it's a problem. It's just a behavior we have to coach him out of. He's much better than he used to be.

 

We haven't had a need to focus on gender when hitting people (for one, I don't recall the last time they've hit a female other than me), but I'd really appreciate it if (one of) mine would learn to not hit people twice his size. I'm like, seriously dude, that's just stupid!

 

ETA: to be clear, I don't recall them ever hitting someone smaller than themselves (other than maybe my oldest his little brother, who's a whopping 3 inches and and 2lbs or so smaller than him).

 

ETA2: We also say "don't hit people", to be clear.

Edited by luuknam
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I didn't use gendered language. Women are not necessarily more frail. There are women and girls who are skilled fighters and can seriously hurt another person. 

Our teaching was "don't hit or hurt other people. If someone is hurting you, escape using the minimum force required."  

There have been several high profile cases of women kidnapping children, as well as YA girls torturing or murdering peers.  I never wanted my kids to feel like they couldn't fight back as hard as they needed if someone was doing something wrong, just because if happened to be a female. 

In roughhousing or play, it also has little to do with gender and just awareness of differences in body size & weaknesses/vulnerable areas.  We didn't really have much roughhousing or wrestling so it wasn't an issue. 

 




 

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I tell my kids not to hit anyone and that they should protect anyone smaller/weaker than they are. Mine haven't hit puberty yet, but I can see needing to have a discussion with a young man who hasn't realized just howstrong he is. I really like the phrasing that a PP used about not using our bodies to make other people do something. I'm going to start using that. I think I will also start talking about how it IS okay to use force in some situations.

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I don't use gendered language for this.  I don't want my kids to think that hitting someone when they are frustrated or angry is a good idea, regardless of gender of either party.  I don't care if it is DD hitting a boy down the street (which happened) or DS hitting his sister or a boy or whomever.  Are there times when they may need to defend themselves?  Yes and we have discussed that.  Are there times when kids roughhouse?  Yes, and we have discussed that (more with DD as a little kid than DS since DD was very athletic and tended to be rougher than a lot of her male playmates even though she was smaller).

 

I don't want my son to think hitting someone else just because they are male instead of female is more acceptable than hitting a girl.  Because IMO it isn't.  Saying that hitting a girl, girl specifically, is wrong implies that hitting a boy is not as bad and I disagree.  I want my kids to have effective coping skills for dealing with their emotions regardless of the gender of the person they are talking to/dealing with.

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I think my husband and I have done a reasonably decent job relaying the violence towards anyone isn't the answer message. That said, we also discuss (as appropriate) the cultural norms and reality that there is a large problem of violence towards women. I think it's ok to do both but it's a bit more nuanced than just "never hit girls" or even "don't hit anyone".

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We focus on two things-the first is the need to protect and support those who are smaller/weaker/at greater risk (The fact is, when my white kid and a Black friend are pretending and playing chase games and squealing, it is a LOT more likely that the Black kid will get called on the carpet for it and that it could be a problem in our Southern community than if it were two White kids. So part of protecting/supporting your friends is to recognize that their life experience may limit the kind of play they can engage in and being supportive of that).

 

The second is strong, affirmative consent that can be withdrawn at any time. Just because someone wants to play now doesn't mean they are going to want to continue playing all afternoon, and if they say, or show that they're done, you need to respect that. Period, full stop.

 

The most common group play at my house tends to be running around the backyard, pretending to be Mythological characters, historical figures, or who knows what (for awhile, the armies were Apple vs Microsoft!) with pretend swords or water guns, chasing each other, etc. It's important to have both those rules in place.

 

Hitting in anger doesn't fall under either affirmative consent or protecting supporting others-therefore, it's not an option unless you are actually in danger. Someone taking the last Snickers bar from the freezer stash doesn't count, even though it's understandably frustrating. 

 

 

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There's a blanket "no hitting" here.  When my girls were little, I didn't specify that they couldn't hit girls. Or boys.  Even now, if their little brothers (or big brother, though that's less likely) bother them, pushing, grabbing, or hitting isn't acceptable because it isn't, not because of any gender differentiation.

 

The little boys have started karate.  They don't do any hand-to-hand fighting (or whatever you call it in karate) yet, and know not to hit any girls OR boys in their class, because they aren't trained to do so yet.  When they are (if we stick with it), it will be with boys and girls.

 

There's nothing complex about it at all, imo.

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Early on in parenting, I had experiences with people letting their girls hit the little boys, even girls who were much bigger than the boys, and then laughing at the boys if they cried or otherwise. I am talking, my little boy at less than 20 pounds being hit by a little girl who looked about 40 pounds and was 4 yrs old. NOT ok! I tell my children hitting is not ok, but gender does not matter. 

 

I have now, since then, seen the girls being encouraged to hit the boys and adults laughing it off. It is just wrong. I am not ok with it. It is the social battle I am still fighting.

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"We don't hit people, unless it is to protect ourselves or someone else who is trying to hurt us." That's my narrative to 3yo boy.

 

He isn't into roughhousing yet, really, so any hitting he has come up with has been when he's angry and it has never been in "self-defense." That's how I'm trying to lawyerly cover all the bases. <eye roll>

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Just want to be clear that of course we do say don't hit anyone. 

 

With DS, I think my husband is trying to relay disgust with the idea that a man would hit a woman.  Not because he thinks my son will be an abuser, but to share the cultural norm that it's repellent when men hit women.   It's not OK for anyone to fight. But it was especially repugnant when Ray Rice hit his girlfriend, or Chris Brown hit Rhianna.  (I am lucky to say we do not have any known examples of domestic violence in our family / social circle).

 

I mean we could say that's not gendered - both of those guys are clearly bigger and stronger than the slender women they assaulted.  But really, domestic violence is primarily a male crime, and having it be associated with shame--- the same way, say, dog fighting or a DUI is-- is entirely appropriate, IMO. 

 

But does that have to be told to a tiny 6 year old, the smallest kid in his own class?  Not as sure about that. I've let my husband take the lead here so far, and I don't think it's that big of a deal. But I don't think the answer is obvious.

Edited by poppy
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Just want to be clear that of course we do say don't hit anyone. 

 

With DS, I think my husband is trying to relay disgust with the idea that a man would hit a woman.  Not because he thinks my son will be an abuser, but to share the cultural norm that it's repellent when men hit women.   It's not OK for anyone to fight. But it was especially repugnant when Ray Rice hit his girlfriend, or Chris Brown hit Rhianna.  (I am lucky to say we do not have any known examples of domestic violence in our family / social circle).

 

I mean we could say that's not gendered - both of those guys are clearly bigger and stronger than the slender women they assaulted.  But really, domestic violence is primarily a male crime, and having it be associated with shame--- the same way, say, dog fighting or a DUI is-- is entirely appropriate, IMO. 

 

But does that have to be told to a tiny 6 year old, the smallest kid in his own class?  Not as sure about that. I've let my husband take the lead here so far, and I don't think it's that big of a deal. But I don't think the answer is obvious.

 

But if we express the same disgust for violence against boys, then all bases are covered.  Nothing is lost in protecting boys as much as we do girls.  Really, girls don't need SPECIAL protection, they just need the same protection from violence that boys should have.

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I get the cultural norm and the reasons behind it, OP.

 

I don't get how you can say you are okay with that cultural norm but not the cultural norm that, say, women shouldn't serve on the front lines of the armed forces, or that there should be equal numbers of men and women in engineering, or something.

 

If you are going to suggest that there are different expectations with regards to gender in some aspects of societal and individual relations, then I am not sure how you can say that other expressions of these different expectations are somehow bigoted or wrong or whatever.

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Just want to be clear that of course we do say don't hit anyone. 

 

With DS, I think my husband is trying to relay disgust with the idea that a man would hit a woman.  Not because he thinks my son will be an abuser, but to share the cultural norm that it's repellent when men hit women.   It's not OK for anyone to fight. But it was especially repugnant when Ray Rice hit his girlfriend, or Chris Brown hit Rhianna.  (I am lucky to say we do not have any known examples of domestic violence in our family / social circle).

 

I mean we could say that's not gendered - both of those guys are clearly bigger and stronger than the slender women they assaulted.  But really, domestic violence is primarily a male crime, and having it be associated with shame--- the same way, say, dog fighting or a DUI is-- is entirely appropriate, IMO. 

 

But does that have to be told to a tiny 6 year old, the smallest kid in his own class?  Not as sure about that. I've let my husband take the lead here so far, and I don't think it's that big of a deal. But I don't think the answer is obvious.

 

 

Furthermore, if you think your son might grow up to be a serial abuser, that is very strongly associated with male perpetrators.

 

But if you're talking about situational violence (that is, your son gets in a fight with a girlfriend, or something), that is much less strongly associated with one gender or another.  

 

So if what you're worried about is the idea that your son might grow up to abuse his wife, or something, then certainly push the idea that abusing women is wrong.

 

But the idea that hitting a woman is wrong is no different, statistically speaking, than the idea that hitting a man is wrong - and I don't see much likelihood that you will be teaching your daughters specifically that hitting men is wrong, amirite?

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I'm in the camp of having said absolutely nothing gendered to my kids in instructions about violence. I don't think it's necessary. My kids are 11 yo. They've never been significantly bigger than the girls and now the girls are starting to be significantly bigger than them for a few years on average. If they had been bigger (we have a nephew that's always been huge for his age, for example - he's a year older than my boys and he towers over them and always has) I might have had words about that - you're bigger than most of the other kids and need to think about that. But it still wouldn't have been gendered.

 

We - completely separately - have talked about violence against women and the ways in which some young men have been brought up to believe or have gotten the message from society and popular culture that it's okay to overlook consent with women and how wrong that is. And in that context, have talked about how, once people are older teens and adults, that men have a physical advantage on the whole and some men believe that therefore they have the right to use that advantage and how wrong that is. To me, these are totally different conversations, if that makes sense.

 

I have always been of the approach that I don't know what future sexuality my kids will have and have tried to use gender neutral language about that across the board (as in, "one day when you fall in love with someone" instead of "with a girl" or "if you get married one day, your wife or husband" instead of "your wife") and I don't have the expectation that I'm building in chivalrous male-female dating behaviors for my boys, something that feels implicit in some of the statements about violence and girls for young boys.

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Early on in parenting, I had experiences with people letting their girls hit the little boys, even girls who were much bigger than the boys, and then laughing at the boys if they cried or otherwise. I am talking, my little boy at less than 20 pounds being hit by a little girl who looked about 40 pounds and was 4 yrs old. NOT ok! I tell my children hitting is not ok, but gender does not matter. 

 

I have now, since then, seen the girls being encouraged to hit the boys and adults laughing it off. It is just wrong. I am not ok with it. It is the social battle I am still fighting.

 

I have seen this with my sisters' kids. My nephew is 8, my niece is 2, and when they "play swords" she is allowed to hit him, and he is NOT allowed to hit her at all. He is expected to stand there and let her hit him with a stick (they are not nerf swords). She has hurt him and made him cry before. Generally at that point the stick gets taken away from my niece and the game is over, but still...they encourage her to hit him.

 

My sisters think this is funny. I don't. I think it's teaching my nephew the wrong lesson--that HIS bodily integrity is not protected. Which is BS.

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I have seen this with my sisters' kids. My nephew is 8, my niece is 2, and when they "play swords" she is allowed to hit him, and he is NOT allowed to hit her at all. He is expected to stand there and let her hit him with a stick (they are not nerf swords). She has hurt him and made him cry before. Generally at that point the stick gets taken away from my niece and the game is over, but still...they encourage her to hit him.

 

My sisters think this is funny. I don't. I think it's teaching my nephew the wrong lesson--that HIS bodily integrity is not protected. Which is BS.

 

Stuff like this makes me crazy and was the bane of my childhood.  And my brother was only 18 months younger than I was.  When I'm dealing with 2 kids (I used to watch other kids at times), I took the age of the 2 kids (or more) in question, averaged it, and would expect that behavior from both kids.  It's so unfair to let one kid poke and the other just stand and take it!?  How is that setting up siblings for a good relationship?  My brother and I were pitted against each other for years.  

 

I think domestic violence against women is awful.  But the subtleties of that are more suited for sex education age with a discussion about rape culture.  My 15 year old now gets that.  But at 6, I just needed my kids to know that hitting, biting, kicking, etc are not acceptable towards any human and we need to use words to express emotions. 

Edited by WoolySocks
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Men are often at risk from other men's violence. Gay bashings ? King hits ? Being glassed in the face ? Mostly male on male crimes. 

 

DV is abhorrent, and so is violence directed towards other men. 

 

I've encountered the attitude that men/boys communicate through beating the crap out of each other.  No joke.  :glare:

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I've encountered the attitude that men/boys communicate through beating the crap out of each other.  No joke.  :glare:

 

:iagree: I saw so much of this during my childhood.  Violence is just never ok in my book. 

 

Kids playing and sparring mutually is fine as long as it's gentle.  The first time anyone says NO, you are done regardless of gender. 

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I do think that bringing gender into it makes it much harder and more embarrassing for men who are victims of domestic violence. Men are bigger and stronger than women on average, but certainly not in each relationship.

 

And of course they might be in a relationship with a man, or the female might actually be smaller but much more physically aggressive - and gender norms make it very hard for the man to respond. It is easy for him to be the bad guy if he does anything physical in the moment, even grabbing her arms to stop the hitting. If he 'runs away' or calls the police, the mocking can be merciless. 

 

Of course the same goes for non-domestic violence like getting mugged, being bullied, and I know I've seen several times on TV shows and movies where they make jokes about the male character (cop or whatever) losing a fight to a female. Males shouldn't have to endure mocking in order to report violence against themselves. 

 

I have dds but we never ran into too much of the don't hit girls or don't roughhouse with girls thing.  It was generally "don't hit" - and roughhouse at your own risk.

 

From the other posts, I like: 

 

We don't hit anyone unless it's to protect ourselves or someone else. 

 

We don't use our bodies to get our way (I love this; I used to say we don't touch in anger, but this is much better). 

 

Be aware that others may be smaller/weaker/at greater risk. 

 

Love what Carrie said about girls not needing special protection from violence - if everyone is protected, then girls are protected. 

 

 

Edited by katilac
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I'm conservative in nearly every way.  It's not ok to me for ANYONE to be hitting - including women hitting men.

 

I hope your dh teaches your dds it's not ok to hit boys/men, ever. also.   there are women who grow up to physically abuse their husbands and sons (children.)  there's a real double standard out there - men aren't supposed to hit women - but women can slap them across the face? one of roger moore's wives used to hit him with frying pans - but hey, he's james bond.  who'd believe him.

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Just want to be clear that of course we do say don't hit anyone. 

 

With DS, I think my husband is trying to relay disgust with the idea that a man would hit a woman.  Not because he thinks my son will be an abuser, but to share the cultural norm that it's repellent when men hit women.   It's not OK for anyone to fight. But it was especially repugnant when Ray Rice hit his girlfriend, or Chris Brown hit Rhianna.  (I am lucky to say we do not have any known examples of domestic violence in our family / social circle).

 

I mean we could say that's not gendered - both of those guys are clearly bigger and stronger than the slender women they assaulted.  But really, domestic violence is primarily a male crime, and having it be associated with shame--- the same way, say, dog fighting or a DUI is-- is entirely appropriate, IMO. 

 

But does that have to be told to a tiny 6 year old, the smallest kid in his own class?  Not as sure about that. I've let my husband take the lead here so far, and I don't think it's that big of a deal. But I don't think the answer is obvious.

 

As someone who worked in a domestic violence/sexual assault victim support agency for 10 years, I get it. I really, really do.

 

But

 

Violence against women is so, so much more than hitting. It is a systemic system of power and control. It's ok to start small,your son is a little guy. You have years and years to introduce him to the reality of relationship violence. But he also doesn't need to learn that women are delicate or in need of protection just because they are women. Don't teach him women have special status, teach him girls and women are his equal. Let him see that every single day in his home, and it will do so, so much more to prevent him from developing a poisonous patriarchal mindset.

 

Just seeing his father being a good man, being a feminist father, being willing to challenge gender norms, being a loving and affectionate father, treating you like his true equal and partner in life.... that is what your son needs to see and have imprinted on his heart.

 

Men don't become abusers by mistake. It's not like no one ever taught them that hitting was wrong. They learned at an early age how to use their power to control their partner to get what they want. The don't see their partner as a person with needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses, equal to theirs. They see their partners as something to serve their needs.

 

I just think 6 is a little bit young to being all of that. Give him something positive to work with first, and then later on you can work on the 'thou shalt never'. But I firmly believe that if you raise him to relate to women and girls as equal to him, as people, and we never treat any people as object to do our bidding, the other parts will fall into place

 

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  I've seen several times on TV shows and movies where they make jokes about the male character (cop or whatever) losing a fight to a female. Males shouldn't have to endure mocking in order to report violence against themselves.  

 

I know of one instance - it was appropriate and desereved.

 

a large male shoplifter was taken down by a six-months  pregnant security guard.  she did have the advantage of a black belt in some martial art - but the leos who hauled him off made sure his fellow inmates knew about it.

eta: she's friends with my sil.

Edited by gardenmom5
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As someone who worked in a domestic violence/sexual assault victim support agency for 10 years, I get it. I really, really do.

 

But

 

Violence against women is so, so much more than hitting. It is a systemic system of power and control.

 

I have strong feelings about this because our family abuser - was my grandMOTHER. I assure you - it has had lifetime ill-effects. just because a woman is a woman - doesn't mean they can't abuse.

 

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We have a blanket no hitting rule. My DS has never been aggressive, and I'm 99.9% of the time enforcing the rule against one of his little sisters for hitting him. He did karate for a while and understands he's allowed to hit (people other than his baby sisters) in self-defense.

 

I have talked about touching using gendered examples with him and gone back to correct or expand it. If a little sister (7 and 9 years younger, still small children) doesn't want a hug or snuggle, it's hands off. Which led to discussions about consensual touching in ANY situation. I unthinkingly used gendered terms.

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We teach that hitting is wrong. We have no tolerance for it whatsoever.

 

Children are not to hit children.

Children are not to hit animals.

Children are not to hit themselves.

Children are not to hit adults.

Adults are not to hit adults.

Adults are not to hit animals.

Adults are not to hit themselves.

Adults are not to hit children.

 

This is all extended to any activities/sports that involve people hitting other people or animals. 

 

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I have strong feelings about this because our family abuser - was my grandMOTHER. I assure you - it has had lifetime ill-effects. just because a woman is a woman - doesn't mean they can't abuse.

 

 

I don't believe I have ever said or implied that women don't or can't chose to be abusive. I was directly addressing the stated concerns of the OP. She said that her husband is specifically concerned about the cultural norms and acceptance of men hitting women. Because that is his specific concern that is what I specifically addressed.

 

I have worked with male and female victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by women. And I know from witnessing their pain that it is equally devastating. I would never say otherwise.

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I was thinking about this more and why it bothered me...

 

I think teaching kids that when you have more power in a situation, that it's more incumbent upon you to behave responsibly toward those below you is important. So, if you're bigger than the other kids, you have more power, it's important to recognize that and not use your physical strength as a license to get what you want. And that carries over into relationships of all kinds when you're an adult and there's an uneven power dynamic - teacher-student, boss-employee, etc. With great power comes great responsibility and all that.

 

But teaching kids that boys specifically shouldn't hit girls seems to put that relationship into the uneven power structure category. And that's not right. Sure, men on average have greater physical strength than women on average. But we want our kids to enter romantic relationships as equals - at least, I certainly do. Teaching kids that men and women are in the same category as teacher and student makes me really uncomfortable. It's a little thing - I mean, I don't think amidst other good, positive messages that it's going to warp a child or anything, but I don't think it's sending the right message.

 

Like I said above, discussing the ways in which unhealthy relationships occur, the way that some men feel entitled to abuse and why, culturally, that has happened, feels to me important as kids grow up (not at age 6 per se, but as kids get older, absolutely). It's just a different conversation, one that assumes - I hope - that you're telling the kid these things because you want them to never be in that situation and you're helping them avoid it. Whereas teaching about power dynamics in relationships is something that you expect them to need because they will be in uneven power relationships in all kinds of situations - personal and professional.

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