parents to the end

Parenting Adult Children for Your Peace of Mind and Their Accountability

Friday Food for Thought: It All Goes Back to “Character”

Posted on September 26, 2014 | No Comments

by Linda Herman, LMHC

I get the outrage over the recently publicized violence of Ray Rice toward his wife.  But let’s go beyond decrying the NFL and demanding more programs to teach men how to behave.  What about the influences in young men’s lives before  they get to adulthood? Are we saying that the only way males will learn to treat females is with private or public “programs?”

What a pity to ignore guys’ upbringings and the years of opportunity for creating healthy individuals. And let’s not put this all on the guys. The women’s movement of the 60’s/70’s focused on empowering women. At the time, women being treated as sex objects was extremely frowned upon. Yet, dress for young women has never been more sexually provocative. Women give and receive mixes signals from the guys in their lives.  It may never have been a more challenging time in which to grow up.

Abusive behavior NEVER is okay, whether one is a celebrity or not. We’ve got it right alerting children to bullying behavior.  What about also alerting our children to the traits that make for its opposite:  a “decent” person?

Here are some thoughts for parents and grandparents:

  • Teach your daughters/granddaughters about “screening” the guys who enter their lives.

Does he work or go to school? Does he have any history (to your knowledge) of crude or aggressive behavior?  Is he into music that degrades women?  Does he have a substance abuse problem? Is he more interested in knowing them sexually than getting to know anything else about them?  These are all questions worth answering before getting too involved with someone. Encourage conversation about these areas.

Women forget that they decide whom to date and with whom to go to bed.  If young women give themselves away too easily, it does not encourage respect on the male’s part. The opposite is more likely to occur.  The female sends messages to the males in her behavior and dress. Let they be ones that say she is not an “easy” target.

  • Teach your sons/grandsons about how to treat females.

How is it that guys learn to treat girls and women? Teaching sons basic courtesies like holding a door open for a woman (probably archaic for some,) or staying on the street side when walking with a girl may sound small, but convey a larger message of caring and respect.

You are always modeling your values. Conduct yourself like a parent, not a pal. Correct your sons and daughters when they need it.  Challenge the MTV version of sexuality.  Your children/grandchildren may accuse you of being out of step with the times, but they won’t get the message of restraint and respect from TV or their friends.

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about character.  In our fear of sounding judgmental, we  avoid  speaking about  this, yet we all grew up knowing the difference between good and poor character. Today we are more likely to use psychological labels than label a behavior as “bad.”

These topics are of great interest to me. I especially pay attention to the character of those in positions of influence over others. What are they modeling?

At the local school level, how are our schools approaching character development?


I will be researching the latter and writing more about this topic in a future blog.

Enjoy your weekend.






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