How Parents Can be Allies
Parents are the first and perhaps the most long-lasting influences in a person's life. Therefore it is only right that parents should play a role in making sure that their children are equipped with the tools to live independent, abuse-free lives. That said, Domestic Violence can happen to anyone and it is never the victim's fault, and no parent can completely protect their kid from intimate partner violence. But as a parent, YOU CAN be an ally to your kid, so that if ever they find themselves in the situation, they know that they can always count on your support. Read on to find out how.
1. Let your kid date In our South Asian culture, we often don't let our kids date. We have myriad reasons for doing this - family honor, tradition, fear of what people will say, etc. but above all, we want to protect our children from heartbreak and perhaps even violence. Truth is that times are changing, young adults today, this globalized social media generation, no matter where in the world they live, they will date - whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. The only way to protect them is to let them date, but at the same time, create a trusting relationship with them in which they feel safe enough to openly communicate about how their relationship is going. For if they find themselves in an abusive situation, there is nothing more powerful than a supportive family that can help them get out of it.
2. Teach and practice consent
Perhaps the most important duty a parent can fulfill as an ally to the movement against sexual and domestic violence is to teach your kid consent. Consent is the key to all healthy relationships. Integrating consent into children's lives from a young age not only teaches them to respect other people's boundaries but also to know when and how to say STOP (loud and clear), when their boundaries are about to be crossed. In our culture, we often give more importance to politeness than respecting people's boundaries. Even small things like forcing your kid to give a relative a hug when they don't want to teach them that boundaries can be manipulated. Read more respecting your child's boundaries in this post.
3. Equip them with resources Knowledge is power, equip your kids with knowledge on this issue so that they can protect themselves better. Equip them with knowledge so that they can tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and so that they know their rights in any situation. Teach them to critically question their experiences. Talk to them about gender equality and about healthy relationships. Encourage them to attend workshops and other skills training offered by Daya and other organizations that equip them with the tools to be better allies to themselves.
4. Model healthy relationships
Perhaps the most important piece of being an ally to your child is to model healthy relationships. You can talk about healthy relationships and gender equality all you want but if your kid sees a different scenario playing out at home, they are going to learn that behavior. In our South Asian culture, we often stay in abusive marriages and tolerate toxic behavior for ' the sake of our children', but have you thought what you are actually teaching your child by staying? You are teaching them that violence is normal and that it is okay for someone to be abusive to you or for you to be abusive to someone else. Research shows that kids who have witnessed domestic abuse while growing up are ten times more likely to become abusers or be in abusive relationships themselves. So, when you stand up for yourself, you are also standing up for the present and future of your children.
Be a parent. Be an ally.