Raising Boys Who Respect Women

By Alison Bowen
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Parenting boys who grow up to respect women is something many parents might be thinking about after a year with so many allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

Chicago Tribune

On a recent afternoon, Holly Daly’s twin boys were debating whether there were enough female superheroes.

The twins disagreed. One pointed out that he could list multiple, She-Hulk, Black Widow, Captain Marvel. The other countered that compared with the male superheroes, that didn’t seem like many.

For Daly, the conversation was a good sign. As a mother of four boys, 9-year-old twins, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old, she was glad to see them thinking through how they saw women represented.

“It was interesting how they’re learning and letting that be a process for them,” she said.

Parenting boys who grow up to respect women is something many parents might be thinking about after a year with so many allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

But how can parents impart respectful teachings and behavior to boys at different ages?

Experts agree it is never too early to think about parenting children who understand boundaries and respect.

“The roots of things like sexual harassment and sexual violence against women start so early,” said Dr. Laurie Berdahl, based in Denver and co-author of “Warning Signs: How to Protect Your Kids From Becoming Victims or Perpetrators of Violence and Aggression.”

The conversations happening right now, from boardrooms to bedrooms, may ultimately result in something positive. Jeffrey B. Rubin, a New York psychotherapist who also teaches meditation, said the string of revelations can be a chance to create conversation and, hopefully, change.

“Let’s use the opportunity,” Rubin said.

Talk about boundaries. That conversation is never too early. Even with young children, parents can emphasize that people have a right to say no to someone else touching their body.

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