Talking to your child about Seth McFarlane at the Oscars

oscars-seth-macfarlanejpg-6b1e82785bb8b46bImagine being a parent and watching your child be referred to as a sexual object in front of one billion people. How would you feel? What would you want to do? As a parent of 4 teenagers, I feel for Quvenzhane Wallis, the Oscar nominee, and her family. To avoid further hurting Quvenzhane, we will not print the inappropriate and cruel reference made during the Oscars by the host, Seth McFarlane (one of many by McFarlane).

Wouldn't it have been powerful to see at least one actor in the audience stand up at that moment and say,

"Seth, ENOUGH. She is 9 years-old. You are referring to a child as a sexual object. Whether in front of an audience of one person or one billion people, that is inappropriate. Your attempt to intentionally sexualize anyone here in such a manner is sad. Please apologize to her, the male actor you referenced, and everyone here. Stop trying to shock people through racist and sexist comments and switch to using appropriate humor."

Can you imagine what would have happened in the theatre and in homes around the world? I believe many in the audience would have supported the actor with the courage to speak out. The news and media outlets would have been talking about a moment when we witnessed a celebrity stand up to someone being cruel to others. We all would have had a great role modeling example to discuss with our children.

That moment never happened. In fact, more moments of sexist and racist comments continued throughout the broadcast (including trying to make a case of domestic violence into a funny one-liner). We all need to remember the Academy Awards CHOSE Seth McFarlane - knowing his reputation for this kind of attempt at satire. The Academy needs to be held accountable along with Seth McFarlane. You can call the Oscars at (310) 247-3000 or leave them an online message by clicking here.

For those who say, "That was satire," how come the jokes never accomplished what satire is meant to show? Satire would result in the audience getting the message of older adults sexual preying on young adults is wrong. That didn't happen. If it did, you might have seen celebrities speak up on behalf of the male actor referenced in the joke (who was unfairly targeted).

What CAN YOU DO? Talk with your family, friends, and colleagues about what Seth McFarlane did while hosting the Oscars. Sit down with your children and discuss this specific incident with the following questions:

  1. If you had a child, would you want to hear someone refer to your 9 year-old as a sexual object?
  2. Ask what kind of comments this situation could lead to the 9 year-old having to hear at school or on TV for the following days and weeks?
  3. What could someone in the audience have done?
  4. Be ready to share our example above of an audience member intervening and then say, "Do you think you would have stood up for the 9 year-old? What WOULD get you stand up for the 9 year-old?"
  5. Help give your child the tools to feel empowered and confident enough to stand up for someone in a public setting.

What tools do you think every parent should give their child to handle such a moment? What would you have said to Seth McFarlane? What would you say to the audience who failed to intervene? In addition to this example, what additional statements by Seth McFarlane during the Oscars should be addressed by parents?

Share in the COMMENTS section below.

Big mistake good parents make when talking about rape

Watch the following video from NBC Channel 3 in Las Vegas to learn a common mistake caring parents make when talking to their preteen and teen sons and daughters about sexual assault and rape.

What are additional mistakes you believe parents make?

**Because we use FaceBook Comments, login to FaceBook for leaving your comments below.

Sons and daughters need to know dangers of online video

For 3 years, we have been warning parents of the added risks for their sons and daughters, preteens and teenagers, interacting on social video chat websites with strangers (such as Chat Roulette). The sites are known by many teenagers and young adults for being used as live sex shows between two strangers (even though some of the sites state they strictly prohibit such use). Too often young males and females mistakenly believe there is no risk in engaging in sexual acts with strangers on the other side of the world.

In addition to the emotional and psychological harm done by engaging in such acts, we have shared over the years how vulnerable participants are to becoming part of a porn scam in which the person on the other end of the video would film you without your knowledge. Afterward, the recorded video footage would be shared with others. We also warned how the "willing participant" on the other side of the world could easily be a sex slave being forced into this work. Yes, your child would suddenly be involved with the sex slave industry.

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Unfortunately, all of the concerns we've been sharing have come true according to authorities in Singapore (click here to read CNN report). Plus, experts are sharing how the scam artist could easily infect your computer with a virus that enables the hacker to control your computer. Imagine the video being sent out to your entire contact list and/or email list; being posted on your FaceBook page, Twitter account, etc....

Sit down with your preteens and teenagers (sons and daughters) to help them learn about the many dangers involved in visiting such websites. Take the following steps:

  1. Introduce the topic by mentioning the actual news story. Avoid over reacting and acting like every teenager is using video chat websites.
  2. Ask your child how often they think this happens.
  3. Ask your child WHY he/she believes some of their peers may use these kind of websites. Be prepared to provide other avenues teens can use for addressing these feelings and/or urges.
  4. Share all the risks involved for TEENAGERS on these websites. Do NOT focus on your child. Sons and daughters hate being talked to like they've done something they haven't.

Share your questions in the COMMENTS section below (login to FaceBook to enable your ability to comment).

Valentine's Day on Away We Grow

"Away We Grow" on Yahoo's SHINE network (the #1 web show for parents) featured our Founder, Mike Domitrz, sharing tips for parents about talking to their teen sons and daughters about love and relationships. Host Diane Mizota asks some great questions in this quick, helpful episode.

Watch the episode by clicking this link or on the image below.

Host Diane Mizota interviews Mike Domitrz.

Host Diane Mizota interviews Mike Domitrz.

Then login to FaceBook and post your questions for Mike Domitrz in the Comments section below.

Sex, TV Commercials, and the Super Bowl

Based on past history, you know TV commercials during the Super Bowl are going to include sexual innuendos - some subtle and other blatant. The conversation often never had is, "What could have been?" How could the same concepts have been done to better reflect respect toward intimacy and sex? Welcome to the 1st Annual "Fumbles vs Touchdowns with Sex at the Super Bowl"

FUMBLES:

1. Audi's Prom Commercial. We look forward to the day when the male walks up to the person; looks the person straight in the eye; confidently asks "May I Kiss You?"; and then has the person respond with a passionate, "YES!"

Instead Audi decided to make confidence be shown by a male doing what HE WANTED to a female he appeared to want - whether she wanted it or not. Wouldn't the commercial have been completely different if the ending was:

He still has the black eye, except the punch was thrown by the woman. The son is in the Audi being driven home by his Dad (clearly looks like he is in trouble). The ending of the commercial said, "Some Simply Are NOT for Ready the Best. Live with RESPECT...AUDI."

2. GoDaddy “When Sexy Meets Smart.” This play included 2 fumbles at once.

1st Fumble:

The kiss. The reason this commercial disgusted sooo many people wasn't because of the combination of the two characters. The real reason was because the kiss itself didn't look passionate at all. Regardless of the characters involved, it seemed more focused on the sounds and the saliva.

Imagine, if the 2 characters had simply looked at each other in the eyes and then one passionately said to the other, “May I Kiss You?” to which the partner responded, “YES!” The ending could have been the screen saying “When Sexy Meets Smart.”  You would never have had to even seen the kiss.

2nd Fumble:

The ENTIRE concept of sexy is a model and smart is what TV shows as a “dork.” Wouldn’t the ultimate example of “When Sexy Meets Smart” had been showing a sexy person and then showing the person’s intelligence (Mensa member, etc...). Then the ending is, “Sexy and Smart do go together.”

TOUCHDOWNS:

Did you see any commercials you felt addressed intimacy and/or sexual imagery with respect?

The MVP: 2013 was another year of no commercial being worthy of receiving the MVP. This award is for the commercial which best exemplifies respect and consent in its sexual imagery and messaging.

Parents & the "Things" we Say.

While speaking to the incoming class at a university recently in Georgia, the students (average age was 18 years old) shared the following statements their parents made to the about sex. Under each statement is the most logical response they had for that parent:

“Don’t Get Pregnant”
RESPONSE: You know Mom if you hadn’t told me that, I was going to give it a try tonight. I thought, “Why not see how difficult going through pregnancy, raising a child, and trying to go through college could be.”

“Don’t Make Me a Grandparent”
RESPONSE: Then you shouldn’t have had me. Sooner or later in life, I want to have a family. Maybe not in the next 3-4 years, but sooner or later.

“Do the RIGHT THING”
RESPONSE: Well, Dad, it does feel RIGHT when we are doing it.

Imagine the look on Dad’s face at that moment.

In most households, the teenagers would get in serious trouble for responding with such sassy answers. But you have to admit, the teen replies really aren’t any more ridiculous than the parents’ statements. And while the parents above were clearly well-intentioned, when any parent gives advice—or makes edicts—that sets up teens to talk back or think disrespectfully. The result? An unpleasant communication breakdown—or angry silence.

Of course we are all human and need to laugh at ourselves, so please feel free to share statements you’ve heard parents make and/or you have caught yourself saying to your kids to help prevent someone else from getting boxed into a ridiculous corner.

Parents, STOP Focusing on LOVE.

posterWhile presenting the “Can I Kiss You?” workshop for parents of teens, many moms and dads tell me how they stress the importance of “LOVE” in a dating relationship.

Do you want love to be the focus of a child discovering relationships? Have you seen a love-crazed tween or teenager recently? Getting them to focus, besides think, is not an easy task. Not exactly what most moms and dads want in their 14 year old.

While I value love, we have to realize we are talking to children who are still learning about friendships, love, and connections. They are not in a position of age or life to probably be making love-based decisions.

Do you know what happens when a child focuses on love (yes, your teenager is a child)? They focus on LOVE. They think they are in LOVE when actually they are infatuated – maybe even in mere lust.

When they believe they are “in love,” they are likely to get serious faster, including with sexual activity. In the mind of many, love=trust=”all the way.”

When focusing on love, the teen wants to hear the word, “love.” Often they will say, “I love you” only to see if the partner will say it back.

Instead of stressing love, put love in PERSPECTIVE for your teen.

Ask your teenager about the different stages of a relationship. Typically, love is NOT one of the first stages in a relationship. Be prepared to provide some examples of stages people go through such as: pure physical attraction; feeling like you must be near each other 24/7; and being comfortable with each other’s independence.

EXAMPLE: First 2 weeks: Every time you touch your boyfriend on his leg or hold his hand, he wants to grab your hand and hold on – letting you know how he loves being with you. Weeks 3-4: While you are touching your boyfriend’s hand, he doesn’t grab your hand. Instead, he grabs a soda and is talking on his cell phone with the other hand.

Does he care less about you than he did in the first 2 weeks? That is a dangerous assumption to make. Your relationship is moving into a new stage and you need to understand how stages will differ. The more important question for your teenager is, “At what stage are you most likely to recognize love?”

A lot of us think we’ll know love when we see it—or by what it isn’t--but many of us don’t really have an experience or opportunity to observe true love in action. Please share below what you consider to be the intermediate stages of a relationship that culminate in a relationship bonded by the highest form of love.

Yes, I deserve a choice in sexual activity.

At the end of speaking to several hundred high school students yesterday, a student stood up and said, "I now know I have a CHOICE. I have the CHOICE to say, 'Yes' or 'No.'" What a powerful moment for everyone in the room.

The word consent was being understood by some teenagers yesterday for the first time in their life. All genders overwhelmingly agreed that the more consent is properly taught, the more likely they are to abstain because they will recognize they are typically not ready. AND if they are not the legal age of consent, they learned important reasons for waiting.

sexual assault, consent, asking first, students, rape

No one, whether a teen or an adult, EVER owes a partner sexual activity of any kind. Engaging in sexual activity is not a "role you serve" when in a relationship. Intimacy should be wanted willingly by all partners and without any influence (emotional pressure, alcohol/drugs, etc...).

What are you doing to help the people in your life know they have a choice? Do YOU realize you have a choice? If you have sons or daughters, what choices do they feel they should always have in a relationship?

Have you ever sat down with your partner and asked, "What choices do you wish you had in our relationship that you feel are currently missing?"

When you ask this question, remember you ASKED and so it is your responsibility to listen and hear the person's response with respect. Treating someone with respect does not mean agreeing with or accepting their comment to be true for you. Respect can mean being caring and thoughtful in your response.

In the COMMENTS section below, share the greatest discoveries you've had in your life about having "choices." I will personally respond to each and every comment!

Sex Ed: For Parents or Students (preteens or teens)?

Who needs Sex Ed more? Parents or students (preteens or teens)? From Abstinence Only to Comprehensive Sex Ed, Sex Ed has various meanings and belief systems attached to the concept depending on your community, upbringing, school system, government, and many more variables.

While many towns and cities around the country debate how and if "Sex Ed" should be handled IN the school, WHO needs "Sex Ed" becomes an interesting question. This past summer in an article that didn't capture the media's attention, a college student stated he thought PARENTS need Sex Ed today.

As I travel the world speaking with parents, many Moms and Dads share real stories of how naive their fellow parents are when it comes to dating and sexual activity among their pre-teen and teenager sons and daughters. Parents constantly share how everyone wants to believe, "Not my child."

For parents who do believe in discussing Sex Ed at home, some if not many often don't know HOW to talk about the issue - besides trying to scare their child away from intimacy. When you share with parents about a sexual fad taking place among school age children, many Moms and Dads look at you with disbelief. Sometimes, you even hear someone say, "I'm 45 years old and have never tried that - and never would." Their children are thinking and sometimes acting beyond their parent's imagination.

What do you think? Do today's parents need Sex Education? What do you think parents need to learn and/or discover? Since many people say, "That is a subject which should be taught at home," is home the ONLY right place for teaching "Sex Ed"?  Would teaching both AT HOME and AT SCHOOL be more effective or less? Do most parents at home have the right information for teaching the subject matter? If you think parents do need Sex Ed, how would you recommend providing the education and actually getting parents to attend?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the COMMENTS section below.

Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect

Written by Guest Blogger, Sharon Fox.

Child abuse is more than broken bones and bruises. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.

There are several myths about child abuse that need to be addressed. Here are a few of them.

Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect:

MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.

Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, other people are less likely to intervene.

MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.

Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.

MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in “good” families.

Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.

MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.

Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.

MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.

Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.

If you know of a child who is being abused or neglected, please contact your local Child Protective Services Department or Police. Every child deserves to live a happy and safe life.

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Sharon Fox
Protect Our Children Foundation

Sharon Fox is an author and child abuse activist. Being a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse is what prompted her to fight so hard to protect the innocenc of children. To learn more about Sharon and protecting a child or children from abuse and neglect, visit www.goodcookin4u2.webs.com or www.protectourchildren.webs.com .

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