In order for boys to become well-rounded men, it is essential that they learn the importance of showing respect. Teaching your son to respect women starts at an early age and as parents, your influence is crucial. The example you set at home – the bond between a mother and son, the respect a father shows his wife – will affect your son’s perception of respect. Here are some tips on how to teach your son to respect women.
1. Teach your son to build healthy relationships with girls
Wayne Parker, author of Power Dads: The Ten Basic Principles Successful Fathers Use to Raise Responsible and Happy Children, writes about the importance of helping boys to develop positive friendships with girls from a young age. The earlier this is achieved, the more comfortable they will be around girls, helping them to see past any stereotypes that teenage boys may have about girls. Early and positive friendships between boys and girls help lay the foundations for mutual respect throughout life.
2. Reinforce the importance of consent
In order to respect women, boys must understand that ‘no’ means no and that they should not touch a woman without her explicit consent. Teach your son that conversations of consent during intimacy should be repeated and discuss scenarios where this would be practised.
3. Monitor his media consumption
Be careful not to allow your son to watch content that isn’t age-appropriate or that glorifies violence. Psychologist Dr Justin Coulson suggests that this kind of content desensitises children and reduces their likeliness to show empathy and kindness. Remind your son that when movies, games and other types of content exhibit women as one-dimensional objects, it is not accurate or reflective of the real world.
Talk to your son about pornography and how it devalues women and why he should avoid it. Set the appropriate parental controls on the internet and empower him to say no when he is exposed to this content.
4. Model respectful behaviour towards women
Don’t underestimate the power of the example that you set. Your son needs to see respectful behaviour within your own family, friendships and all circumstances. As parents, listen and recognise women’s opinions. Use respectful terms, manners and body language when addressing women and surround your son with good role models.
At Christ Church Grammar School, boys discuss issues and learn how to make informed decisions on holistic good health and wellbeing through The Wynne Centre for Boys’ Health and Wellbeing.