Learning from the NFL’s Black Eye

By: Janet Lehman, MSW

The Ray Rice saga is a black eye for the NFL but the silver lining is that it is a powerful catalyst for a must have parent/ teen conversation. The “necessary dialogue” list is ever growing: stranger danger, bullying, appropriate online behavior, sex and substance abuse talks, and now add the domestic violence item to the parent discussion agenda.

The fallen hero syndrome offers an opportunity to broach the subject in a non-personal manner- this is not your child or a personal friend so the discussion can be more objective. The best way to get through to your teen is to make it clear that the behavior is not just about violence instead is rather about values.

Indeed the behavior was violent, egregious, and offensive and completely inappropriate but don’t be distracted by the underlying cause of the outburst- a resounding lack of values. Clearly Ray Rice has never learned how to relate to females without the use of brut force when he is frustrated or angry. My experience tells me that there is a family history and the behavior is embedded. Unless and until he faces these demons, his relationships will run the risk of continued violence.

His wife has some entrenched behaviors of her own. She is in defensive mode: she is taking the blame for making this public and impacting his career. Until she is at a place where she can admit that she needs assistance, her pattern will not change.

Football will go on and the NFL has some public relations work to do. Let the league focus on the punishment for Ray and who will fill his spot but as an adult community, we need seize upon this incident for a long overdue conversation on the very real problem of domestic abuse. Families should not be ashamed in asking for assistance- it is the first step in changing the behavior. The conversation is not about denial, judgment, or defending either party but rather about an education on what domestic abuse is, what to look for, symptoms, and resources.

Janet Lehman, MSW

Janet Lehman, MSW

Child Behavior Therpist at EmpoweringParents
Janet Lehman, MSW has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years and is the co-creator of The Total Transformation Program. She is a social worker who has held a variety of positions during her career,  including juvenile probation officer, case manager, therapist and program director for 22 years in traditional residential care and in group homes for difficult children.
Janet Lehman, MSW

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