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Oh Yes, It’s Ladies Night

April 23, 2009

Alright, I’m a little behind on this news item, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.  Did anyone else catch the poll results where a disturbing number of teens thought that Rihanna must have “done something” to make Chris Brown mad enough to punch her in the face and choke her?  (A Boston Public Health Commission poll of  local teens found that a staggering 46% believed Rihanna was responsible for the incident).  

In recent years the incidents of violence between teen boyfriends and girlfriends has risen.  A 2005 study (www.loveisnotabuse.com/statistics_abuseandteens.htm) found that 1 in 3 teens reported knowing a friend or peer who had been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked, or otherwise physically hurt by his or her partner.  Although boys can be victimized, more often than not they are the abusers.  Where did this attitude come from, and why has it become so pervasive?  Although I have my suspicions, I don’t know the answer (apparently no one does).  

I can confidently say, however, that if a little girl is taught that she deserves to be treated with respect, deserves to be treated as “a lady,” she will likely grow up expecting to be treated that way.  (Of course, she does need to know how to act like a lady, and based on what I see and hear on a daily basis, I fear we have an entire generation for whom that term has no meaning – or perhaps even worse – no relevence).  On the flip side, if boys grow up knowing that they are expected to act as “gentlemen,” and what that specifically means, they will be much more likely to behave respectfully towards girls.  Yes, I know.  “Ladies” and “Gentlemen” are such old-fashioned terms.  But just because they’re passe doesn’t mean they should be relegated to the 8-track trashbin of history. 

I love the idea of fathers taking their daughters on “dates.”  Whether it’s dinner, a movie, or a walk in the park, it’s an opportunity to show a little girl how it feels to be treated like a lady. Opening doors for her (including the car door), pulling out her seat (a good reason not to hit Mickey D’s…not even Schwarzenegger could manhandle one of those molded plastic booths out of the way…well, not without a probable trip to the police station, and that sets a whole different tone than the one we’re going for) and generally being attentive and respectful gives Dad a chance to set a high standard for the treatment his daughter will expect when she enters the real world of dating and relationships. 

If you’re daughter is a teenager and already dating, make sure both she and the guy know your expectations.  More importantly, demand respect.  Don’t let him get away with honking the horn from the curb.  If he doesn’t have the cajones to walk up to your door, look you in the eye, shake your hand, introduce himself and ask what time you expect your daughter back, he most likely doesn’t have the wherewithal to handle the responsibility of a date.  And do you really want someone too wimpy – or too cocky – to make the effort to meet you face-to-face, dating your daughter?  Uh…no.  (As my sister-in-law would say, “That’s a big bag o’ DUH!”)

Those of us with boys also have some work to do.  We can go on our own dates and insist he hold doors open for us, pull out our chair as we’re seated (be careful with this one – depending on the mood of the day, he may not push it back as you sit down) and generally refrain from boorish behavior such as picking his nails, belching his ABC’s and ignoring you to ogle the hot new Bakugan he smuggled in in his pocket.

Let’s teach our kids to be ladies and gentlemen.  Maybe they’ll grow up to treat each other that way.  And wouldn’t that be a nice change from the present?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 3:47 pm

    What a great post! A great reminder that so much starts with us–the parents– and trickles down from there. Modeling what we want to see is the first step to raising girls (and boys) who get that people deserve to be respected at all times. Respect starts with everyone respecting themselves enough to not accept poor treatment from others.

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