Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Raising them Right, Raising them Safely

I have no idea what I'm going to say.

This week, the internet--at least, the parts I read--is a-swirl.  On the one hand, Kristen Howerton made a plea to her children's schools and the world at large to quit using every random calendar holiday as a reason to smother kids with candy and gifts.  Somehow her children had gotten the idea that St. Patrick's day was always celebrated with leprechaun traps, green glitter, and gold coins, and when that didn't happen in their home they were disgruntled in the extreme.

Kristen's post generated over a thousand comments and was reprinted in the Huffington Post.  Oddly, at least to me, a lot of the comments were from crafty mothers outraged that she'd dissed the Elf-on-a-Shelf.

Meanwhile, CNN  infamously decided to feel sorry for the Steubenville rapists, two 16-year-old boys who were convicted of repeatedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl by the photos of the assault that they and their friends posted online.  Because, you know, it's funny to put rape photos on Twitter.

If you're wondering what sort of scars are caused by sexual abuse--if you're still uncertain whether or not it's that big of a deal--I suggest you head over to Rachel Held Evans's blog.  She's running a week-long series on recovering from sexual abuse; there are already several excellent posts there.  Spoiler alert:  it is that big of a deal.

I'm trying to decide whether I think all these things are related.  I'm not sure.  The homeschooling moms who so hotly defended their right to celebrate everything with their own craftiness would be appalled, I'm sure.  But isn't the overwhelming theme one of entitlement?  I'm entitled to candy.  I'm entitled to--rape?  to treat a classmate with such overwhelming contempt, such non-humanness?  It's a big leap--but to me not an unthinkable one, as the CNN reporter laments not that these boys and their companions were able to act with such callousness, but that their "promising" futures were going to be compromised by felony convictions.

Hey--you don't want your future compromised by a felony conviction?  Don't commit a felony.  You don't want to be on the sex offenders list?  Don't commit a sex offense.  It speaks volumes that these children didn't get it to the point that they not only committed the crime, they publicized it.  They took their unconscious victim around to several different parties--parties with alcohol and parents who were willing to look the other way.

I promise, I'm really not trying to say that if you give your children too many presents they'll turn into rapists.  But I do think that at some point we've got to make life less about indulging the little darlings and more about expecting things from them.  Expecting moral behavior.  Expecting them to suffer consequences--when they're still tiny, when the stakes are low.  Expecting them to be disappointed, and whine, and get over it, because the universe doesn't actually revolve around them, and life isn't going to shower them with glitter all the time.

Am I making any sense at all?