So here are my four action points for parents and for those of you who work with parents that I have culled out from my life story: 1) Raise boys to be men who care; 2) Reach and engage fathers; 3) Equip parents to become their children’s primary sexuality educator; and 4) Build parents’ ability to protect children from abuse.
I was deeply troubled when Pili’s Population Officer told me that in another municipality in Camarines Sur, a girl got pregnant at age 10 and she gave birth in September 2017 at age 11. The Population Officer added that girls these days are having their first period (menarche) very early. Based on the findings from the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (2013), more than 1 in 10 girls experienced menstruation before age 12.
My hopes for our young boys. I hope he will not bottle up his sadness and grief just because people around him tell him that “boys don’t cry.” I hope he will be surrounded with positive male role models who don’t subscribe to the “boys will be boys” mentality that excuses disrespectful and irresponsible behaviour of boys.
I was a solo parent for more than 20 years. It was both emotionally exhausting and financially formidable to provide love, care and financial support to my two sons. Solo parents need a strong support system to be able to manage their numerous responsibilities. Looking back, I wished I had a group of fellow single mothers that meet regularly so at least I didn’t feel as if I was going through the arduous journey alone.
“I finally got the chance to read your book this weekend and I just wanted to tell you how wonderfully courageous you have been in your life.”
According to the campaign, we might be surprised to learn that saying things like “boys will be boys” and “it’s OK, he just did it because he likes you” excuses disrespectful behavior in the minds of young people. When we say these things, we not only excuse the disrespectful behavior of our boys, we also, unfortunately, teach our girls to accept it.
In this sex-crazed society that we live in, we should always remember that parents are in the protection business. One crucial way that we can protect our children is by providing guidance and setting standards when it comes to dating.
These are tough times for Filipino teens. To be loved. To be cared for. To be protected. These are basic and universal needs of children and youth that unfortunately are not being fully met.
We have to rethink the way we teach our children about physical contact, affection, and personal boundaries. This is not about making children responsible for preventing sexual abuse because that’s our role as adults. This is about 1) letting our children know that we respect their highly intuitive boundaries; 2) equipping them with skills for boundary-setting; and 3) making it very clear that they should come to us whenever they feel that someone is acting in a way that is inappropriate toward them.
What is very dangerous about “Fifty Shades of Grey” is that it romanticizes and glamourizes sexual violence and emotional abuse of women.