The Jeffrey Epstein Case Reminds Us That Good Parents Are Needed Now More Than Ever
Over the past few weeks, news headlines have been monopolized by the Jeffrey Epstein case—a multi-millionaire accused of sex trafficking under-aged girls. Since Epstein’s death in prison last week, the case has been closed, but the investigation is ongoing.
Whenever a disturbing story like this one, where young girls are the victims, goes viral, it strikes fear in parents’ hearts. It reminds them that the world is a scary place and that people in power can use their influence for evil and children may be the target.
But instead of letting this story drive you into to worry and despair, what if you used this as an opportunity to remember the influence and power you do have over your child’s life, and, in turn, the influence your child could have on others one day?
For the dads…
Your presence in your child’s life means more than you know. Just by being around them, you make your children feel safe, even when they are teenagers. This might sound trite, but it is quite important. Our ultimate goal as parents is to help children make their own way and live independently, but developmentally, children have a need to feel safe.
When they see their father protect them, they believe that they are worth protecting. When a daughter hears her father tell a guy who wants to date her “no”, she feels good about herself. (On the surface, she will appear furious, but down deep, she feels loved.) In fact, having a present father decreases a girl’s chances of getting taken into sex trafficking because girls feel safe, and in fact are safer, when their fathers are around.
Being with you is your child’s best safeguard against the “big” troubles in life. That’s right. Children who live with their fathers are at lower risk for drinking, being sexually active, depressed or getting into trouble at school. The flip side is this: living with you helps your children get better grades, have higher self-esteem, be happier and be less anxious to name a few. The bottom line is, you are great for your kids.
For the moms…
Although girls are the victim in this scenario, whenever we discuss sexual abuse or assault, we can’t forget to talk about our sons because the better we are at raising good sons who respect others, the safer everybody is.
This is where the moms come in.
Sons learn so much from their mothers, but perhaps the biggest lessons are these: wisdom and responsibility. As women, we have an intuition that tells us what is right for our kids. It’s built into us. That’s wisdom. As the stabilizing force in our families—the ones who have given birth to and fed our children from birth—we also have an innate sense of responsibility. Because of this, our sons often learn these two important qualities from us.
In a culture where being “manly” trumps being wise and improving one’s “macho” status matters more than being responsible, we mothers know that we have our work cut out for us when teaching the lessons of wisdom and responsibility to our sons. But it is crucial that we do this. Men who are wise and responsible value all human life, male and female. Men who are wise and responsible put others first. Men who are wise and responsible see others as whole humans
So how do we instill wisdom and responsibility in our sons? We model it ourselves. We trust our gut and intuition, and we stand firm in doing what we believe is best for our kids as they are growing up. Then when they are older, we can challenge them to follow us in our behavior. We do this by implementing strong boundaries and speaking up.
If your son is about to make a destructive decision, we tell him. If he has broken a rule, we enforce the consequences. All the while assuring him we are allies with him, not enemies. Our sons need to know that we have their backs, even if it doesn’t seem this way.
Instead of letting the news terrify you into keeping your children locked up in the house, use this story as a reminder of the strength and power you have as a parent. Dads, love and protect your daughters. Moms, model wisdom and responsibility for your sons. Parents, you can make this world a better place, simply by raising one great kid at a time.