This opinion piece is making the rounds on Facebook because everybody loves the idea of a tough little girl, defending herself against evil little boys:
Sure, every time the author advices that we teach our son to keep his hands to himself she adds the parenthetical, “and your daughter, too!”
…But I can’t help noticing the headline focuses on physical aggression toward little boys, and that’s what makes me uncomfortable.
It doesn’t say, “Why My Daughter Has Permission to Punch Yours in the Ovaries.”
Something tells me that article would be less popular.
Here’s the deal: I recognize that self-defense is a necessity at times. I get that we live in a world where we might have to react PHYSICALLY and VIOLENTLY if a stranger acts physically/violently first.
But, do we really expect 6-year-olds to understand if and when “keep your hands to yourself” doesn’t apply?
Are we really making the playground a safer place when we send our ball- kicking Kindergarten girls to join the butt-touching Kindergarten boys and expect the teachers to figure out who started it all?
But, most importantly: what happens AFTER your little Amazon completes her Justice Jab on a boy’s tenders?
I’m guessing, in the minds of the many mothers who shared this article, the young girl leaves the boy on the ground, writhing and promising “I’ll never do it again!” while the girl takes the walk of pride back to the classroom and all the other kids on the swing set cheer.
That’s how you think it works, right, moms?
Can you hear your daughter’s badass theme music right now?
Unfortunately, there’s a problem!
The only way your 6-year-old daughter gets to enjoy her empowering moment is if the boy suddenly starts following the “don’t put your hands on girls” rule.
Otherwise he’s going to stand up and bloody your Princess’s nose…
…and THEN what?
You know, there’s a reason bank tellers are taught to just hand over the money and sort out the details later.
Armed robbers have guns!
And, when the bad guy is capable of hurting you worse than you can hurt him, suddenly the self-defense thing becomes more complicated.
Suddenly, keeping your hands to yourself MIGHT be the best strategy to keep yourself from harm until the (better-armed) authorities sort out the details.
Call me anti-feminist, but I don’t trust Kindergarteners to understand all of that.
I tell my kids–both boys and girls–to keep their hands to themselves. Period. Full stop.
Because it’s not smart for me to send my little vigilantes to school, ready to take justice into their miniature hands…
…when they’ll probably get hurt worse eventually…
…and the root problem with the bully still won’t be solved…
…and they can just go sit with the teachers until the authorities figure out a solution that doesn’t involve amateur wrestling matches breaking out.
(Note: I will not be kicking any principals in the nuts.)
Moms, we need to think through the advice we’re giving and make sure we’re not just living out our own fantasies of beating up other people’s brats, through our kids.
There’s a good reason there are NO VIOLENCE policies in elementary schools, where the aggressor and the victim change moment to moment. (The same reason we don’t send kids to school with mace.)
If you want to establish new rules for your kids, may I recommend homeschooling? (Seriously! I’m a big advocate for homeschooling!)
And when your daughter and YOUR son are the two who can’t get along, you can be the one who figures out who started it and who is allowed to do the punching.
Maybe you can tie your boy to a tree, so your girl can get a fair shot without retaliation?
But, in the meantime, stop telling six-year-olds it’s okay to escalate situations while you’re at work. If your daughter kicks my son in the nuts, he’s going to punch her in the face.
You should at least warn her about that.