Every day I record on my DVR every episode of Oprah. At 10pm I zip through each episode to see if anything is worth watching. Well, last night I caught the Oprah episode “Inside the Mind of a Child Molester”. It was intriguing, uncomfortable, disgusting, heartbreaking but important to watch. I realized that my daughter is going on 5-years old and I have yet to have a serious conversation with her about what to do if/when an adult attempts to molest her. This is not a conversation any parent wants to have, but it’s a conversation that every parent must have with their children.
First, I identified that the mornings are when my daughter is the most “awake” and focused. I wanted to talk to her at time when she wouldn’t be distracted or tired. So, at 6:45am this morning while her baby brother was still asleep, I said:
Conley, I want to talk to you about something very important. (I sat her on my bed and I kneeled on the floor so I could talk to her eye-to-eye). Sometimes grown-ups do things to children that are very bad. Sometimes they touch children on their body where they shouldn’t be touched. Honey, what part of your body is private to only you and nobody should ever touch? My pee pee and po-po. Exactly! Conley, if anybody ever touches you on your pee pee or po-po I want you to tell Mommy, okay? Even if it is someone we know: daddy, oma, opa, uncle Benny, your teacher at school, a babysitter, a neighbor…you need to tell mommy right away. Mommy, but what if you are not there? Good question! If you are alone, and if you are able to run for help, then run as fast as you can away from the person. If you are not able to run, I want you to push, kick or hit the person as hard as you can. Let’s practice this. (I role-played with her for about 7-10 minutes). Okay, pretend mommy is a bad person. I am going to try and grab you. Kick me as hard as you can! Pow pow. Great! Now as I try to reach for your body, push my hands away as hard as you can. Awesome! Conley, one last thing…when a grown-up does something to a child that is bad, they try and scare the child by telling you that if you tell anyone about what they did, that they will hurt you or hurt mommy and daddy. That is a total lie. If you tell mommy or daddy, nothing bad will happen to you or mommy. You will always be safe and protected. Do you understand that?
I plan to have this conversation with my kids at least once per year. Many parents think I mentioned it once so I don’t need to mention it again. Kids are forgetful and by opening the dialog on a continuous basis will give your kids the security knowing that they can always talk to you about all serious situations. By opening the doors to talk about sexual abuse and molestation, will also keep the dialog box open to talking about sex, drugs, peer pressure and other challenging and destructive things our world throws at our kids.
The one topic you don’t cover with your children, too many times is the one topic that can ruin their life forever. Yep, I have bruises on my shins from being my daughter’s punching bag this morning. But I’d rather deal with having banged up legs for one day out of every year rather than dealing with the wounds of having my daughter sexually abused.