Why #MeToo is #MeAlone
By Chris Jackson
With the #MeToo movement affecting public figures more and more, it’s important to understand why #MeToo is so often #MeAlone. If you want your kids to not be or feel alone when someone does something to them, read on.
Think of the most shameful secret you keep. Something that happened to you. Embarrassing’s not the word; it’s worse than embarrassing. In school, kids picked on me, and I never told anyone–including my parents. In fact, this is the first time I’m mentioning it to anyone. You have one too. Why didn’t you tell anyone? Why didn’t you tell everyone? Why didn’t you tell your parents, a school official, or the police?
Your kids will have one too, if they don’t already. People who consider themselves part of the #MeToo movement have had things happen to them that are scary, shameful, and embarrass- ing, and those words only begin to de- scribe what people feel. Many times, years are spent pushing these memories pushed down to a deep place where they don’t come to mind so often. These people may believe they will feel worse if they tell someone. They may not know how to tell someone. They may wrongly believe it was their fault. They may not want to tell anyone, and they don’t have too, do they? They are scared, and it’s deeply personal and private.
As parents, we can seek professional help to dig into our memories for something that happened to us. We can recall the incident and share it with a safe person. We can model this difficult sharing to our children. It’s not necessary to get into details while you’re sharing. Chose a good time and share an age-appropriate experience with your children. Keep it short. Let your children see how vulnerable you are while you’re sharing. Let them see how scared you are. Once you’ve shared, and every time you share, let your kids know that they are safe sharing with you, but don’t pressure them to share.
Let them know that for a long time, you didn’t share. Let them know why. Let them know that when they share with you, you will believe them and love them the same. Let them know there’s nothing they could do, say, or share with you that would make you love them less, and there’s nothing they could do, say, or share with you that would make you love them more. Let them know there’s nothing that could happen to them that would make you love them less, and that there’s nothing that could happen to them that would make you love them more. Your love for them is UNCONDITIONAL.
Keep sharing with your kids the things that happen to you which make you feel shame and embarrassment. It’s gets easier each time you share. In time, your kids may start to share back. My hope is that #MeToo won’t be #MeAlone in your family.
Note: Those who do not share for many years, or ever, have nothing to be ashamed of in keeping their secret. Seek professional help when you become aware that something has happened to someone your family or to you.
Until next time, parent well.