You walk in and see your 12-year-old daughter having sex. What do you do? What do you feel? What do you do next?
The situation I’m asking about is hypothetical. Praise God. My baby, Donovan, is only 1-year-old. I haven’t had to deal with that yet, but that scenario is real for a dad who went viral last week for spanking his teen daughter.
I watched the video of the spanking. I listened to the child’s screams and pleas, and I felt bad for her. It was difficult to watch but not because I think the dad was being violent or abusive. I’ve had spankings before. Cursing aside, that’s pretty much what they look like.
What bothers me most about the video is that a man is spanking his daughter and calling her names because of her sexuality. I am a woman. I know the world we live in. We’re rewarded socially for our sexuality and also penalized because of it. So when I see a video like that, it’s almost instinctual for me to wonder if the father would hand out the same punishment if he were dealing with a 12-year-old boy instead of a girl.
I don’t believe in one set of rules for girls and another set of rules for boys. That’s just not the person I am. So if that father would have been just as quick to hand out the same spanking to his pre-teen boy as he did to his pre-teen daughter, I can’t judge him. I get that a lot of people can and have, but I’m a mom.
It’s not as easy as it used to be for me to say what I would never do.
If I walked in on my son having sex, I would like to think I would react calmly, talk through the situation without shaming anyone. I would like to think I would be gentle and compassionate, but the truth is I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know how I would feel.
The only thing I do know is that I will make mistakes in parenting that I won’t want to be judged for, so I’ll try my best to give my child that same courtesy.
He will get to live, mess up and make up for his mistakes without the fear that I’ll blast him on social media. He’ll have to deal with enough of that outside of my household. I want the home I create with my husband to be Donovan’s safe space mainly because I don’t know any other way.
My mom always gave me the freedom to make mistakes without being humiliated. Sure, she didn’t have Facebook, but she had a Facebook equivalent — a whooping in the middle of class. She never did that to me because ultimately, she just didn’t think I needed to be shamed into acting right. I don’t think my son will need that either, and even if he does, he’ll have to get it from the outside world.
You shouldn’t have to look to your parents for shame, in my book.