By: Tracy S. Bennett, PH.D
On the way to school this morning with my kids (ages 10 and 12), I told them I was going to write a piece on how children are affected by viewing TV coverage of athletes committing domestic violence. And as usual, I was fascinated by their response.
The first thing I learned is that they had no idea what I was talking about. My GetKidsInternetSafe filtering is working! The second thing I learned is that kids don’t reason like adults. I know this, but I need to be constantly reminded. Thirdly, their responses confirmed that my participation in their media activities is critical if I want them to soak in the right lessons.
Let me tell you a story. When my kids were ages 12, 4, and 2, I agreed to drop them off at the pet store while I went across the parking lot to buy a light bulb. My oldest was a skilled babysitter and volunteered at a different pet store every Saturday. My little ones were easy for her to manage. I thought nothing of it. As we tumbled out of the car laughing from our singing hijinks, I saw a woman in some sort of uniform give me a really dirty look. I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, passing it off as unimportant, until I returned to pick up my kids 10 minutes later. Upon walking through the door the woman aggressively accosted me saying, “What kind of mother just drops off her kids”? Beyond my knee-jerk sophisticated response of “shut up” (ya, not proud of that one), her hostility prompted me to frantically find my babies. A few rows back I spotted them, hand in hand, calmly talking to a police officer. I was terrified. The officer assured me nothing was wrong, that he simply responded to a call from a concerned citizen. He also went on to say he was aware my daughter was 12 years old and she did an impressive job handling a difficult situation. Apparently he asked her to accompany him to his squad car so he could retrieve his phone to call me and, just like I taught her, she refused to leave the store. He apologized for asking her to do that in the first place, but went on to say that her judgment demonstrated those kids were in no danger. Furthermore, when I told him about the aggression of the “concerned citizen” who had reportedly approached my 12 year old directly with criticisms about her mother, he walked me to the car and assured me that he was simply doing his job and agreed that the woman’s intentions were perhaps not entirely motivated by concern about my children’s welfare.
This leads me to my point of “What IS child abuse?” I am challenged by this discrimination in clinical practice often as a mandated reporter. Tell me at what you point you think abuse criteria has been met:
Allowing your child to watch violent news coverage?
Pet store abandonment?
Yelling at a child and calling him “lazy”?
Yelling at a child and calling her a “brat”?
Slapping a child on the buttocks?
Allowing your child to see you hit his/her other parent?
Hitting a child with a switch or belt?
Punching a child with your fist?
Maybe my quiz is not the best because the items are in the wrong order or don’t give enough information, but my objective is to inspire you to form a thoughtful opinion. With 20 years of clinical, teaching, and mothering experience, I’d be happy to provide my opinion. But you’d be reading a much longer article.
Essentially, it comes down to what values you hold and how important it is to communicate those values to your children. This morning I told my kids about Ray Rice and his elevator knock out video with his wife, Adrian Peterson and his four year-old son with lacerations and bruises from a whoopin’, and Floyd Mayweather’s response to a reporter “no pictures, just hearsay”. The initial response from my kids was that parents should not let their kids watch that coverage. Upon further discussion, they agreed that parents should front-load their kids with thoughtful discussion in preparation for unexpected exposure. And finally, my twelve year-old left me with a disturbing realization. I asked her, “What do you think kids are learning watching their idols committing domestic violence and then being interviewed about it?” She responded, “Just don’t get caught”.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe!
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
© 2014 Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Original article: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Floyd Mayweather- Your Kids on Violence.
If this doesn’t get you thinking, start smelling coffee:
Latest posts by Tracy Bennett, PhD. (see all)
- Let’s Talk Pot! (and the Internet) - April 8, 2015
- YouTube Shaming Doesn’t Rehab the Cyberbully, But Kindness and Education Just Might - February 20, 2015
- Lessons Learned From Kim Kardashian - December 10, 2014
Tell Us What You Think!
Powered by Facebook Comments