Brock Turner and Why I Told My Kids "No"

There is justifiably an outcry about the light sentence handed down on Brock Turner, a college athlete who raped an unconscious female. What a horrific, ghastly crime for which he was sentenced to six months in prison. Just. six. months.

While calls for throwing the judge from the bench resound, the good news is that at least this brings an important subject to the public discourse. Date rape is near epidemic proportions, particularly on college campuses. Just last week it was revealed that Baylor University officials have swept sexual misconduct under the rug. Why is this happening? What has messed up our kids?

Warning: Parenting Soap Box Approaching

Let me be honest for just a moment. We raise our kids in a get-a-trophy-for-breathing, everyone-gets-an-A, permissive culture, yet we are surprised they feel entitled?

Our young people are consumed with sexually-charged, soft-porn TV, like Game of Thrones, and yet we think that won't affect their behavior or taint their desires?

We have an entire generation of young people who live on Daddy's credit card, accumulate a lifetime of debt in four years of college then complain about paying it back, and can barely show up on time for their jobs, but we are shocked that they lack a sense of responsibility for their actions?

I Told My Kids "No" So They Would Learn To Tell Themselves "No"

I have no toddlers left at home. I am glad that I was well into raising my kids before the inane theory of "don't tell your kids no" became a fad. In case that last sentence was not clear enough, let me state my opinion- that is just bologna.

Here is the deal: I wanted my kids to be adventurous and brave. I wanted them to be strong in their beliefs so they would not go along with the crowd or settle for mediocrity. I wanted my kids to not be limited to only what they wanted, or held back by what they feared or disliked. But the current theory is that I would stifle their little self-esteems and cripple their creativity if I said "No."

I propose the exact opposite is true. It is precisely because I wanted these ideals for my kids that I told them no- a lot. And fits were not allowed in response, nor was I required to give an explanation for my "no".

May I stay up late as I want? No.
May I not eat my salad? No.
May I play instead of doing my schoolwork? No.
May I be unkind to my brother? No.
May I talk to you like you are the meanest human on earth? No.
May I throw a fit in the restaurant because I don't like it or am bored? No.
May I demand we only watch what I want to watch and listen to what I want to listen to? No.
May I beg for candy in the check-out aisle until I wear you down to semi-consciousness? No. 
May I demand anything I desire at the moment? No. 
May I be in charge? No.
May I live my life like I am the center of the universe and others exist for my enjoyment? No.

Here is the deal: If I didn't tell my kids no, and teach them to respond well to my no, how would they ever learn to tell themselves no?

I have to tell myself no all the time. I tell myself no to a another helping of dinner or to ice cream for the fourth night in a row. I tell myself no to a third glass of wine. When I work early in the morning, I make myself go to bed early the night before. I do not allow myself to tell the sloth who is checking me out exactly what I think of her. Nor do I let myself ram into the car in front of me that is driving slowly in the left lane. 

There are numerous times, every day, where self-control is needed. And not just the "push the second basket of chips and salsa out of reach" kind of self-control, but the "I seriously want to punch you in the face, but I won't" kind of self-control.

The same is true for our kids. When they face an opportunity to fulfill some desire, which would be very harmful to themselves or someone they are with, will they be able to constrain themselves? When their conscience tries to warn them that something is wrong, will they listen? When those around them are saying "Yes!" to every current desire, will they be able to say "No" to what is wrong and "Yes" to what is right?

Thank God For Heroes

Thankfully, on the infamous night where Brock Turner said "yes" to his evil desires, there were two real men who came on the scene, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson, two Swedish graduate students. While it didn't stop the crime from happening it did enable Turner to be caught. (Where were the American heroes, you might wonder? I don't know. Good question. I think they were in the Frat house getting drunk?)

Brock Turner put a face to our current problem. But it will not be solved by just getting mad about his light sentence or demanding the demise of the judge. This incident is a symptom of deep cultural issues that face our nation.

While neither you nor I can solve all these problems, just maybe we can stem the tide. We can call wrong, wrong, and right, right. We can tell ourselves, our own kids, and those we have influence on the value of a good, hearty, "NO!" 

In fact, you might need to practice. Stand up and with firmness and conviction loudly proclaim, "No!"

That wasn't so hard, was it? Now go and spread the word!

Let's be heroes. Let's say, "No."