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Be the Mama Bear

Since moving to Texas six years ago, I’ve been very fortunate to find a small group of neighborhood friends to go through parenthood with me. In our neighborhood we have seven other families with children almost exactly Maddie and Cora’s ages; moms who tolerate my crunchiness and willingly watch my kids when I have a babysitting crisis; and dads who like to play rock music and video games as much as Brian does. This core group is very dear to me: the children are rock solid besties with my kids, and will never leave each other out, and I know my gal pals ALWAYS have my back.

Yes, we are all super close. And yet my children know they are not EVER allowed to get into a car with one of those dads unless there’s someone else in the car, too.

I’m not saying there’s anything funky going on with those dads. I’m saying that this is how I’m raising my girls on this subject. In a world where I try to say “yes” as much as possible, and teach them to find out all the information before making a judgment on a situation, I want to make sure they know there are a few absolutes out there, and how they handle adult men is one of those absolutes.

There’s a website out there called The Mama Bear Effect, and it’s all about teaching children about sexual predators. Their theory is that, just like the polar bears, a predator will be less likely to single out a cub if there’s a fierce mama hovering watchfully close by. The Mama Bear Effect is all about teaching children to be wise without completely losing their innocence.

There’s a great article they recently posted – “Five Ways To Deter A Pedophile”. Now, I know this is an icky subject and no one wants to talk about it, but statistics agree on a couple really horrible things: first, over 90% of all sexual predators are people the child already knows. Second, one in four girls will be the victim of sexual abuse at some point in her childhood. One in four. Take a look at your daughter’s class picture: that means two or three of those sweet girls. Including your daughter.

Take a second to read the article, then talk about it with your kids – girls AND boys. We regularly discuss Stranger Danger issues with our daughters, including what to say if someone picks them up in a crowd and walks off with them (“This person is not my daddy!”), what to do if a person they do or don’t know offers them a ride, acceptable physical behavior/touching/games with friends/teachers/doctors/family members/random adults. We cover it all, as matter-of-factly as possible, but we cover it.

Be the Mama Bear. Yes, it’s outside your comfort zone to explain to friends why you won’t entirely let your girls trust the husbands. Yes, it’s awkward to talk to your six-year-old about what she should keep “private” and why.

But it’s better than the alternative.


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