by Julia Julian, Colorado Mom
I am a radical mama. I teach my children they are the boss of their bodies. In our family we do not keep secrets. We talk about everything. We listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly. NO means NO. We play “What if” games. We teach the names of our body parts. “Mom” my youngest use to say, “You have a china”. “Honey I am a girl; I have a vagina.” “Mom, I came out of your penis.” “Sweetheart, you have a penis because you’re a boy.” I teach my boys to listen to their inner voice, their gut, their intuition, the Holy Spirit, or whatever you want to call it. For myself, I call it my mama voice.
When I was a little girl, my mom would scare me. “Don’t let men even touch your elbow” “Men and women,” she would say “will corrupt you, hurt you, and ruin you.” She had good reason. Her father was molested by his aunt since he was a small child. Generations of fear passed down like a heavy baton in the race of life.
I wanted to have children and did not want to teach them to fear those who lurk in our own families, places of worship, schools, and sports teams. Those who weave children into their charming web. I wanted my children to be safe without fear, but how?
When my oldest boy was two years old, we heard about this radical class, Parenting Safe Children. My husband attended the workshop. He thought it was the hardest and most gratifying class he had ever taken. I was in awe from what he told me and what I read. Right away our family joined the prevention team.
It has been 5 years since we took Feather Berkower’s radical class. When I sign my boys up for a class, a camp, sports, or church functions, I say, “My boys are the boss of their bodies. We do not have secrets in our family. They are obedient unless they feel their body is not being respected. Are you alright with this? What are your body safety policies?” I have said this in group orientations and parents said they have taken the class and are embarrassed to speak up. I tell parents, “try it, practice it, it will protect your child, you will do awesome.”
I talk to the people in charge of my children. Some are receptive, some are not. I have encountered all sorts of reactions, facial expressions, whispers, and questions, “what are you talking about” or “are you accusing me of something?” Other reactions have been positive, grateful, in agreement, and understanding. If I do not protect my boys by just simply talking then who will protect them? No One.
If I do not feel comfortable, my boys do not stay. My boys have said, “Mom I do not feel safe here” so we go. Today my son was showing his soccer coach an "owie." The coach said, “Spit on your 'owie' to heal it, but do not tell your mom or dad.” I was sitting behind them. My five year old reminded him, “I don’t do secrets. I tell my mommy and daddy everything.” And I also followed up with the coach.
When I talk to caregivers I have the mindset of inviting everyone onto my prevention team. In my heart I do this for my boys and for children everywhere. I protect my phone and my laptop by not leaving them with strangers. I wear a seatbelt. I put my money in a bank. I lock my car. I do not want to lock my boys up with fear or put them at risk. I want them to seize the day. So I speak up. I keep it simple. I listen to my inner voice. If people have a problem with this simple talk, then they are not good enough for my boys.
I want to keep my boys safe so they can have the best life possible, full of freedom, joy, and love. Isn’t that what we all want?
Feather’s workshop is not radical and I am not a radical mama after all.