Prevention of domestic violence starts with how we raise our kids. As parents, we must step up and take this strong stand with our kids: Hitting another human being is wrong. Every time. And if someone hits you, the right thing to do is run the other way and get help to protect yourself from that person. Don’t return and be hit again.
I am a huge football fan, but the recent Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice headlines have made my stomach turn. But they have proven to be a superb teaching moment at our home. If you have teenage children, sit down with them and watch the YouTube video of Ray Rice in the elevator. Let your teens share their reactions while you listen.
Then tell them your own reactions and beliefs. Here is how that exercise went at our house:
Jack, age 16: “There’s nothing manly about that, Mom. It’s disgusting.”
Liesl, age 13: “How did he know he didn’t kill her, and how could he do that if he loved her?”
“Jack, the biological fact is that men are generally bigger and stronger than women, which means they have an extra obligation to keep women safe. If you are ever so mad that you cannot find words, your dad and I expect you to walk away. We believe it’s wrong for any human being to hit another. Ever. If I ever hear that you hit a woman, I will tell her to walk away from you and never come back.”
“Liesl, it’s always wrong for women to be hit. They never deserve it. If any guy ever lays a finger on you when he’s angry, walk away and don’t ever go back, no matter what he says after he’s done being angry. And tell your dad, or me, or the cops, or a friend that you trust.”
Thanks, Ray Rice, for giving every parent in America the perfect chance to teach our kids that hitting is always wrong.