Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By the Grace of God, Not "Me Too"

When we lived in South America we once hired a Christian man to do some odd jobs in our house. He came during the day when I was at home alone, and though I knew this man, I felt a discomforting atmosphere with him. I quickly let him go about his work and found my way to another room, but I was disquieted. As I thought about it, the only way I could describe it was a "sexual tension". I had no attraction whatsoever to him, but I was uncomfortable. I decided I didn't want to be alone in the house with him.

Later when I went to talk to my husband I felt extremely awkward. I didn't want to accuse the man of anything--he hadn't done or said anything explicitly suggestive or harassing--and I didn't want my husband to think that I had felt tempted, but I knew I didn't want to be alone with him. As soon as I finally expressed my feelings, to my great relief, my husband said, "Okay, from now on I will be home when he is working here." How can I thank him for understanding and protecting me?

We later learned that this man had seduced a woman and was carrying on an illicit affair with her. How had I known? Was it subconscious reading of body language? Was the Spirit of God warning me? (I hesitate to think that I could be that in tune with God's spirit, though I would like to be.) All I can say is that by the grace of God I was warned within, was able to voice my fears, and was believed and protected, in my case, by my husband.

These are things we need to provide for our children: the ability to listen to their own warning system, freedom to tell their fears or the actual abuse against them, belief, and immediate protection.

When our children were small, we started their sexual education by answering their questions in an age appropriate manner and when they were five or six, reading to each one privately a book called "Susie's Babies" which explains the miracle of birth by telling about a hamster in a classroom. It is not explicit at all, but opened the door to discussing the topic with our children. Then we had the conversation below, and at the dinner table, at least once year. This grows and changes as they are older.

The Conversation
Tell your children:

  • If they have any questions about any of this, they can and should ask us and not their friends.
  • If someone wants to talk to them about sex, how babies are created and born, or anything like this, they should tell them that they are learning about this from their parents. (Our children's Christian school sent home information before they ever had these talks in health or science so that we could be the first one to talk to them, tell them that discussion was okay, and we knew that the information they were getting was correct and biblically sound.)
  • If they are ever touched by someone, other than you when washing them or a doctor examining them, in or on their "private" areas (and let them know what these are) they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • If someone ever tells them they want to touch them in those areas or they feel like that is being suggested, they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • If they ever feel unsafe around someone, they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • That if they are ever somewhere where they feel unsafe or that wrong things are being done (including drinking, drugs, or other irresponsible behavior), they can call you at any time of day or night and you will come get them and bring them home.
  • No one should ever require them to be touched or do anything sexual to get better grades, to be on a team, to be advanced in position, get a favor, or to get a job.
  • That you will believe them and take steps to deal with the situation and keep them safe.
Thankfully, we never had to take steps in this way, but if your child comes to you with this kind of information, you cannot just let it go. Here are the first steps of action to take.

The Action
  • Believe your child even if you don't want to. You might not want to think that the person they are accusing would do this, but for the sake of your child, you need to take them seriously. Few children make these accusations up.
  • Assure them of your continued love and that they are not at fault for this happening to them; the other person is the one who did wrong.
  • Take steps to make sure they are never in a situation alone with this person again. This might be inconvenient, but your child needs the security of feeling safe. 
  • Seek help from appropriate authorities and counselors.
  • This link to Focus on the Family will help you know what to do in the case of a child being molested by a family member and would be a good place to start getting information for any sexual abuse of your child.
Children are not the only ones who need this kind of information and support. You need it and your friends need it. 

In Addition
We need to keep our children from being harassers. Teach them that each person is valuable because they are made in the image of God and therefore the value of each one comes from the inestimable, incalculable value of God. God has proved their worth by demonstrating "His own love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). We need to teach our children not to objectify others--even if they seem to be making sex objects of themselves--but to see each one as an individual whom God loves and for whom Christ died. Because of this, not only should they not harass others in any way, they should stand up for those they see being harassed.

It's not a simple subject that can be completely covered in one blog post, but as Christians, parents, and people made in God's image, we must be part of the solution.

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  1. I am so glad you were beloved, believed, and protected by your husband. I love the open way you are talking with your kids!

  2. This can often be a taboo topic, thank you for sharing! Visiting from By His Grace Bloggers

    1. I wish it were one we didn't need to talk about!



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