Monday, February 6, 2012

How do we teach our children to ask for help?

Next Wednesday, February 15, the topic of the parent chat will be how to keep our children safe from predators. This follows on the heels of the recent news story of the third grade teacher in Los Angeles who had been molesting children between 2008 and 2010. He had been a teacher, though, for 30 years so they really don't know how many children he may have violated.

So how do we keep our children safe? How do we teach children that it's ok to ask for help? How do we get children to come to us when they are being told to do something that does not feel right to them? I'm sure those Los Angeles parents talked to their children so why didn't it help?

It made me think back to when I was a first grader. I had two hamsters, Tom and Jerry, that turned out to really be Tom and Geraldine! Two pet hamsters turned into many, many hamsters! Well one day my first grade teacher decided to call me up in front of the class, tape a red ball to my nose, and announce to the rest of the class that I was a hamster.  Everyone laughed but I was 6 year old likes to be the butt of a joke and have an entire classroom of her peers laughing at her.

Flash forward 20-some years to my sister, mother, and I sitting around discussing the upcoming school-wide reunion at this particular school. As we discussed the teachers that we hoped would be there, I mentioned my first-grade teacher and what had happened. We all had a few weird stories to share about this woman and my mother was horrified. She said, "Why didn't you tell me that happened? I would have called them up and complained."  I told her that I didn't know at that time that I had a choice in the matter. I was raised to be an obedient child and it wasn't in my nature to question an authority figure and say "No" to her or to complain. If an adult told me to do something, I did it without question because they knew better. Of course, she didn't do anything that would be considered abusive; but what if she did?

When I raised my children, I felt that I didn't have the luxury of raising obedient children. I wanted them to think for themselves and learn how to say no.  Problem was, they also said no to me; but I can handle that because I'm the parent. They needed to learn during the in-service workshop of home so that they could take what they learned and use it in the real world. I was very lucky and my children never had to experience the horrors that those children in Los Angeles did, but I sure would like to have had all the ammunition that I could to save them if they needed it.

Consider being a part of our chat on February 15. Our guest panelists will include a counselor who works with children and a program director who also helps children and families of abuse.  The time is 11:30-12:30 pm and the website is included in the information below.

If you are interested in more information on parenting issues, CARE of Southeastern Michigan offers parenting classes throughout the year at various locations in Macomb County. You can view upcoming classes, get more information, and register online at or call CARE at 586-541-0033.
I also co-host a parenting chat at with the Health and Lifestyle Writer, Maryanne Kocis-MacLeod, on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month at 11:30-12:30 pm.

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