Ed

Should I teach my daughter to fight back?

My lovely, smart, polite, friendly and well-liked girl is eight and in NYC 4th grade public school. I always taught her to obey the rules and the law but in this age of #metoo and with certain politicians violating the rights of women, how do I tell her to punch when she needs to? I've explained to her that certain things are never right, that boys (and men) should never touch her when she doesn't want them to, and she knows how to diffuse a situation with a kind word and a smile. But what if that boy won't take no for an answer? She's not interested in martial arts but she is active. How do you explain Stormy Daniels or Bill Cosby to an eight-year-old?

  • Anonymous
    Sep 26, 2018

    My answer is yes. Just teach her to fight back whenever she feels threatened or uncomfortable. That she has to learn to protect herself and to also never feel afraid to come to you with anything. Or speak up when something feels wrong. To never feel ashamed.

  • antigrav_kids
    Sep 26, 2018

    I'm curious about other folks answers to this also, because more ideas in how to address this would be awesome. We had this talk with the 7 year old here recently, (her 5 y.o. and 3 y.o. sibs were there as well). We'd already talked about sex, and she'd read a sex ed book she found in the library, so we had the basics down. First I explained that sex in general among consenting adults is positive. Then I jumped into what it sounds like you already did also, that it's never ok for anyone to touch her anywhere she doesn't want. Then I told her that if that happens to say no loudly, and forcefully. We rolled played that a little bit. The 3 y.o. rocked at this. We're still practicing with the 7 y.o. (I'd like her to be louder) We told her if that didn't work to punch, gouge, kick, stab, whatever worked, and to scream at the top of her lungs. I'm heartened by the fact that she already shut down one security guard. The kid was exploring a museum while her younger siblings were in a class with their nanny. The guard told her she was too young to be there and they needed to go to the guard station. The kid told him they didn't need to go anywhere and in fact if he liked her was welcome to wait with her until her nanny and sibs came out of the classroom door. I'm curious about how many times the talk should be repeated.

  • Anonymous
    Sep 28, 2018

    I have boys, so I can't really answer this from the daughter perspective. But I have taught them two things from day one: 1. They are always allowed to choose who touches their body. They do not have to hug Grandma, or their friend, or even me, if they don't want to. 2. They are to be VERY careful about putting hands on other people. If they want a hug, they must ask. If they grab my clothes or my hair, I sternly reprimand them. I have taught them as much as I can by example that they are not entitled to touch my body or anyone else's body. As much as girls need to be taught to defend themselves, boys must be taught to respect boundaries.

  • Tiff
    Oct 02, 2018

    You should explain to her that nobody (not just men or boys., but other females too) has the right to touch her in any manner that she does not want to be touched. Teach her boundaries and respect of other people's bodies and tell her it's ok to fight against anyone who tries to persist in violating her boundaries afyer she has clearly said no. There should be no need to bring up Stormy Daniels because that wasn't about sexual assault. In regards to Bill Cosby I think its important to teach our kids to be aware of their surroundings, and when they're older teach them about how to be mindful of things like never accepting an open drink or never leaving their drink unattended. Also teach them to report anyone immediately if they do try to hurt them or violate them. Tell them you will believe them and keep them safe. Also teach them that they are never to be dishonest about saying somebody did something.

  • Anonymous
    Feb 21

    I'm mother to a boy and I say a resounding yes, encourage her to learn self defense and to advocate for herself. I teach my son about consent and toxic masculinity, but daily I witness how ubiquitously society encourages boys to feel entitled to take what they want from girls without suffering consequences. I see it all around us - in the media, from people around us, even his little friends who are raised by the people around us - so much that I worry my lessons are being drowned out. If my boy ever made the mistake of touching your girl without her consent, he has a huge advantage to get away with it while your girl will have the onus placed on her. Arm her with the skills she needs to navigate a world that would take the attacker's side over hers. As for my son, I love him and want everything for him so he can grow into a fulfilled, decent man of the #metoo era, but if someone leveled accusations of rape or sexual harassment against him, with a heavy heart I will listen to the victim.