Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thanks, Ben Roethlesberger, For Those Teachable Moments!

If you are paying close enough attention to the life around you, "teachable moments" are everywhere.

As I am sure most every football fan, and some passive observers, have heard, that the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been embroiled in controversy for the second time in nine months-accused of sexual assault by at least two women, in two separate locations. As a mother, this is a difficult subject to broach with my young children because it involves some issues I'd rather not dialog about at this juncture. However, knowing that my sons, as well as my daughter, might be privvy to this information via the rumor mill at school, I decided to weave a morality lesson out of "Big Ben's" bad behavior, while playing kickball in our backyard (talks about sticky subjects are better had with some distraction, I believe).

For my 12 year-old, I felt that I could speak frankly, about the issues of rape, sexual assault, and protecting our bodies. I told her that Mr. Roethlesberger seemed to be having some trouble discerning appropriate sexual boundaries and how saying "no" to anyone, under any circumstances, is sufficient to expect compliance by the other person. End of Story. I also pointed out that, though "no" means "no" regardless, of how you appear, what clothing you choose or how inebriated you are or what you may have said prior, learning how to carry yourself as a woman with strength and dignity is also important. Then, of course, I threatened to beat the tar out of her if she ever ended up in a bar, underage, wearing explicit clothing.

As for my sons who are 9 and 7, I referred back to conversations we've always had pertaining to private parts. I told them that Big Ben had misbehaved in a public place and that he was alleged to have touched a woman's private parts without her consent. We discussed how powerful the word "No" is and how in life you must respect another person's wishes if they tell you to stop doing something that is hurting them. Over the years I have referred to this basic philosophy when they wrestle or are tickling one another (or walloping each other with sticks)- hoping that boys who are taught to stop when asked to, will be better prepared to do so when they are men.

While I resent the fact that these discussions are even necessary, especially when I'd love for my children to continue to believe that a football player that they have looked up to is a man of integrity, I am thankful to Ben Roethlesberger for giving me the opportunity to involve my sons and daughter in an invaluable life lesson.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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