Talking to my 11-yr-old about sexual predators

The other night my 11-yr-old son was out of control with anger and rage directed at me. I thought what the f is up with this anger? Perhaps there’s something going on in his life that he is feeling he has no control over.

Yes, he has an older brother who is better at everything than he is. That can’t be easy. But, it’s always been that way because his brother is 3 years older. This anger seems over the top. His Dad and I are constantly telling him to stop saying No to everything. If I ask him to read his book for school, he’ll say “no”; if I say, come help me with the garbage, he’ll say “no, make M. do it.” If I get him outside to help with yard clean up he’ll sit on the ground and dig in the dirt. It is driving us nuts!

Take a big breath and look at the situation. I remembered back to when I was 11 years old. At that time, I hated just about everything, too. My (much) older brother was sexually abusing me at night, after hours, in my room, and my emotions were shutting down. I was not able to show happiness or pleasure because of a hidden side to my life.

Rather than be angry and upset at my innocent boy I honestly wondered if something real and scary was happening to him. Although I think I supervise most of his activities — he is involved in soccer, band, and basketball and has sleepovers at friend’s houses. There are opportunities for a predator to take advantage of him, as much as I think I’ve done background checks and felt where he was is safe, I really don’t know for certain.

So, a few nights ago, my son is angry and my husband and I are threatening to send him to bed early, which he hates. But, he loves for me to make his bed and tuck him in snuggly so I offer it as a way to get him to go to bed. He agrees and climbs into his snug bed that has 3 blankets all tucked in around him…

I say, “I want to talk to you about something important.”

He gives me a look like, “Please don’t tell me again how bad I’ve been today.”

I jump right in to the classic first line, “Do you know the difference between good touch and uncomfortable touch?”

He nods because I have read him books like It’s My Body and his doctor tells him no one should touch his private parts, except the doctor.

“This is tough stuff to talk about because it tells you about a dark side of people and it’s hard for me to tell you.” My son looks at me, wide-eyed and interested.

“Your body is special and no one else should touch it. There are sick people in this world who try to touch boys in the front and in their behind.”

He keeps looking at me so I go on about how if someone does that to him, it is not his fault. Those people are bad and he should come and tell me right away. I assure him “I will never be mad at you but I will be angry at that person.”

My son said, “No one is doing that.” And I felt relieved. I hope to God that is true. He reached his hand out to me, from his bed that I was tucking him into, and gave me a gentle squeeze of the hand. Then, my little guy, angry as he is, pulled me to his face and kissed me. His hands rubbed me gently and he seemed full of affection and love. Love that I cared about him regardless of the anger he has shown lately.  This is proof that children need our support and direction in life.

I suspect his problem is puberty. My 11-year-old is 5 feet 6 and ¾ inches and I don’t need a doctor to confirm he is in puberty. He is one big boy and he still has a lot of growing to do since his dad is over 6 feet tall.

Anyway, I’m glad I had the conversation about sexual predators. There was so much more I could say but I didn’t. I hope the little I shared with him is enough for him to know that if someone touches him and it doesn’t feel good than it is wrong.

2 responses to “Talking to my 11-yr-old about sexual predators

  1. Thank you. Everyone needs to do this. Though uncomfortable, what a wonderful parenting moment it turned into – they need to know we are looking out for them. And yes, those angry days are when we need to reassure them the most that we love them no matter what. Sometimes I say, “You might be able to make me angry right now, but that will pass, and just remember you will never be able to make me stop loving you”

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