When Should You Teach Your Child About A Good Touch vs. A Bad Touch?

When I became pregnant at 20 years old, my biggest concerns were graduating from college on time, the fear of birthing her and being able to get a great job after her first year of life. Even though I was young, I knew I didn’t want to send her to daycare before the age of 1. I wanted her to be capable of pointing and communicating hurt if it had ever been done to her. The fear of someone abusing my child mentally, verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually did not come late in the game for me. It was immediate. My goal was to protect her as best as I could and to educate her on her body parts as early as possible.

Many people have a problem with teaching children nicknames for their private areas, but I am an advocate for it. I believe your child should learn and hear the name of the private areas early on, however, you should teach them a word that they can pronounce. I knew that saying the word “vagina” would be difficult for a child who was still learning English, so I chose a different one that she would be comfortable with. I vowed that once her language grew more advanced, I would teach her the correct saying, and I did. I remember seeing a post that talked about a child continuously telling her teacher about her uncle eating her cookie. The teacher thought it was harmless. The child’s mother learned about it at the parent-teacher conference and knew exactly what her child meant. The message of the post was to teach your child the appropriate name so that an adult or law enforcement will know to understand them. I think that is extremely important. But what about the kid that knows how to speak, but not well enough to say the word correctly? That’s why I teach my children by age or maturity.

Since the age of one, we’ve repeatedly gone over the names of her body parts and which ones were considered private parts. My husband and I always stressed the importance of telling either one of us if she ever felt uncomfortable or was touched inappropriately by anyone, including US. Still to this day, I tell my oldest daughter that if her father or I ever make her feel uncomfortable with our touch, please let us know, or tell the other parent if you’re scared to express your feelings.

The thing about little girls is you have to teach them how to wipe themselves correctly and how to properly clean themselves for a while. They may know the process, but you have to spend a lot of time checking behind them to make sure they are doing a good job. This is a job that I’ve taken on with my daughters, but I’ve educated my husband on what to do just in case anything ever happened to me. For a mother, it is routine to just check and wipe our children, but I don’t want my children to feel muted just because it’s mommy touching down there. I openly ask my oldest daughter to tell me if and when I make her feel uncomfortable. I continue to teach her that her private areas are not toys or playgrounds and should not be played with. So if anything ever tickled, she knew that it was an accident and that I never intended to make her feel played with or “good” down there.

As my daughter grew older and more aware of her body, I explained to her that her entire body is considered her private parts. If she doesn’t like the way someone touched her arm, say something. Someone made you feel uncomfortable with a touch to your back, say something. “It’s your body, and it is completely private. It is not a public object that anyone can touch without your permission.”

Good touch vs. bad touch is a continuous conversation in my household. My husband and I upgrade the conversation the older our oldest daughter gets. We’ve explained that a man or a woman could be inappropriate, and a child or teenager. We’ve taken the conversation from just a touch but to someone showing her their private parts, asking her to get into inappropriate positions or taking pictures of her. Also, it’s not just a touch, but putting their face, hands, and genitalia in places they don’t belong. We’ve shared with her that the person who could hurt her isn’t always a stranger, but someone that is close to our family or is family. When she was younger, I gave her soft examples of the evil things someone could say to make her afraid of telling us. For example, “No one will believe you,” “This was your fault,” “If you tell, I’ll kill you, and ” If you tell, I’ll kill your parents.”

When we were younger, my husband was a lot more aggressive with the conversation as expected. “Let daddy know, and I’ll take care of it.” Our daughter knew what that meant. However, I learned that was an issue and told him he had to change the tone of that comment. I learned that some children don’t tell because they are afraid the people they love will get in trouble. Whether it be the person that hurt them, or the person trying to protect them. He then changed his response to, “Please let mommy and daddy know so that we can have the opportunity to help you and make sure that the person doesn’t hurt you again.”

In addition, I continue to teach my daughter to respect other people’s space and bodies as well. I would never want my daughter to be the person who makes someone else feel uncomfortable. She knows that no means no, stop means stop, and don’t means don’t. Those words are complete sentences when it comes to someone’s needs, including hers. The answer is no unless she chooses to change it. Not by the influence or force of someone else.

Most importantly, we’ve taught our daughter that no matter what, we will believe her and do what is necessary to protect her. So many children tell their parents that something has happened to them, and the parent fails them by not believing or do nothing about it. There are some who also allow the abuser to still be around the child. I hate to say it, but I learned so much from a Facebook group filled with mothers. A member asked survivors if they had ever been molested or raped, please share why they did or didn’t tell in order to help us be better mothers to our children. It was so painful to read these women’s stories. There were hundreds of women with completely different stories. It was super eye-opening and educational. I appreciate those strong women.

There is no age too young to teach your children about their bodies, the names of the body parts, and good touch vs. bad touch. You don’t have to have a sexually based conversation. Speak to them in the way they understand and communicate. As the child grows older and mature, the conversation should as well. It’s not something you only talk about once, it’s continuous. It’s also vital that you create an environment where your child isn’t afraid to come to you. I’ve created a space with my daughter where I share personal thoughts and feelings with her so that she feels comfortable with having detailed conversations. She feels like it is a two-way street. Of course, I keep it age-appropriate.

Now that I have another daughter, I’ve begun the process with her. She just turned two and is already trying to say “vagina.” If I’m blessed to have a son in the future, the conversation will continue with him as well. I feel like our boys are forgotten in the conversation about molestation, but that’s a conversation for another day…

As usual, I’m no expert and what works for me and mine may not work for you and yours. The main point of this post is to get us parents and/or guardians in the habit of educating our children on their bodies and self-awareness in addition to their ABC’s. I hate the subject, but try to stay educated on it. I’ve seen articles where the abuser(s) were convicted, and others where the families were failed by the system. If you have any additional, helpful tips, please share them in the comments for others to learn from as well. If you have personal experience with this topic and are open to sharing, please feel free to send an email. It allows for anonymity and will help myself and others.

 

 

 

How Do I Help My Husband When He’s Hurting?

I often talk about moments when I am hurting mentally, physically and emotionally on here. Most of those hurts have simply come from life throwing its challenges at me. However, many have also come from witnessing my husband’s pain. It’s a sickening hurt, and I absolutely hate it.

What do I mean by “sickening hurt?” When my husband is struggling with life’s punches, I suffer silently while trying to be both supportive and keep my distance in order for him to deal. For a long time, I didn’t know how to do both of those things for him. I could only do one at a time. I was either pestering him with “Are you okay?” every 10 minutes, or keeping too far of a distance and allowing him to be content with healing the way men were taught to heal. “Don’t cry.”  “Don’t express your feelings, that’s weak.” “Suck it up, and keep it moving.” While those things work for smaller situations, they are the furthest things from being healthy and present mentally, physically and emotionally when dealing with difficult circumstances. Contrary to belief, it is perfectly fine to support your man when he is down. Social media and reality television have portrayed supporting men in a negative light. It’s almost as if women are either like doormats and let the men walk all over them, or they feel like supporting their man means he thinks she’s his mother.

I’ve known my husband since I was 10, and we’ve literally grown up with one another. He’s the mumbo sauce to my chicken (it’s a DC thing). So it truly hurts me to see him dealing with life knowing that there isn’t much I can do. I know many women experience this in their relationships. So how do we help? What do we do during these moments? I’m no expert or relationship guru, but I’ll share what I’ve learned and what I practice.

Ask him what problem(s) he is facing. By simply asking your partner, “What’s going on  babe?” opens the lines of communication. It’s the first step to letting him know you care, and you’ve noticed that he seems bothered by something.

Listen to him. Don’t speak. Just listen. We often ask our partners “What’s wrong?” and ask him to communicate, but then we take over the convo. Effective communication requires listening. You can’t ask him to talk, and then you do all the talking. Most men were raised in an environment of “Talking about your feelings is a sign of weakness.” When we create a safe place for our partner to open up, it becomes easier for him in the future.

Ask him is there a specific way that he needs you to support him. We often assume that we are supporting our significant other (S.O.) the way that he needs to be supported, but it could be the opposite of what he needs. Make attempts to speak his love language, however, it takes nothing to ask him “How can I support you?” When I know there’s nothing I can do, I simply ask my husband, “What would you like me to include in my prayer for you?”

Speak life into him, and let him know that you are there for him whenever he needs you. Sometimes, we don’t know how deep a problem is rooted with our S.O. They could have made every attempt at working on themselves before becoming committed to you, and then one incident stirs up a deep rooted issue. Although we are adults, we are still individuals who are constantly evolving. We need a lot of grace! Speak positivity into your man! Remind him of how resilient he is. Remind him he is an overcomer.

Sex is not the answer. Sex only pleases the surface and does nothing for the underlying issue. I personally believe sex can be a form of healing or therapy, but only after the issue has been addressed and worked on. Oxytocin is released when two are engaging in sexual intercourse. It is the same chemical that is released when a mother gives birth to her baby or when she breastfeeds. So, yes. Sex works, but it is not the problem solver.

Pray for him. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. We are only human. More often, we need God to work on our partner’s behalf. We also need God to strengthen us during this time. While he’s healing, he may come off as distant, needy, a jerk, or not himself. It takes a lot of help from God to not spaz on him. Dealing with life doesn’t give him the excuse to walk around angry at the world or you, but it could happen. Pray for your strength, pray for healing and covering over your entire family. If you share children, pray for your children. It’s important that they see us have weak moments so they won’t grow up feeling like failures when they run into problems. Reassure them it’s nothing they’ve done. It is also important to explain to them that when they become adults that there will be seasons where they are having a rough time. Continue to pray that your children are able to navigate through their mental and emotional issues healthily.

Encourage him to seek therapy. For a long time in the black community, seeking therapy has been viewed as a negative thing. Remind him that therapy isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t make him crazy. You can only do but so much. It is not your job to heal him or try and fix him. That is a self thing. Encourage him to continue with therapy even after he has dealt with what was hurting him. Therapy is a great source all year round.

Leave him alone. Allow him to deal. You’ve already told him that the door is open for whenever he needs you. If you’ve opened the door, and he’s told you that he would let you know if he needs something, it’s extremely annoying when you’re in his face constantly or trying to get information out of him. As long as the problem is not with your or your relationship, you have to learn how to support your loved one from a distance. Leaving someone alone doesn’t mean you abandon them. It’s simply the act of giving them some space.

Reach out to your mentor or married friend who has the same values as you. You need support too! This has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I have been ready to act a fool toward my husband, and my mentor has helped me to calm down. Let’s face it. We have some amazing friends, but not all are in relationships. If they are in a relationship, they may not handle things the same way as you. You need someone you can lean on, who will challenge you to change your perspective, who will call you out when you’re wrong, and will support you when you’re right.

It’s hard enough dealing with your own issues, and marriage forces you to have to care about another person’s feelings. It’s not an easy fete, and marriage is not for the weak. When your partner is experiencing stress due to personal situations, it can affect both of you together or you two individually. It may affect your conversations with one another, appetites, personality and character, intimacy and more. Let’s be clear, when it comes to men and them dealing with struggle, they can act like real jerks. But I’ll give you one more point that I’ve learned from my mentor. Sometimes you have to sit back and close your mouth. You have to learn that there is a time for every conversation. It’s not in your best interest to address another issue when you already know he’s dealing with something else. You won’t get the feedback you desire, and you’ll end up making things worse for you AND him. When we bring up our issues at the wrong time, we are left with the potential of getting a response that will then change up OUR attitude. Sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “Now is not the right time. If I bring this up a little later, our conversation will be far better than if we address it now.” Pray your strength in the Lord in order to hold your tongue and to present that issue to him at the right time. I’ve learned when you do that, the conversation goes much better!

It’s when we immediately jump down each other’s throats that communication goes out the window. We are no longer talking, but yelling. No longer listening, just hearing sounds. When it gets like that for my husband and I, I’m ready to throw the boxing gloves on.

I’ll close with this. No matter how connected and unified you are with your partner, you’re still two completely different people. The way you like to be supported may not be what your partner desires or needs. Always remember, everyone copes different. Where there is real struggle that can’t be rectified between you two, be open to marriage counseling or couples counseling if you aren’t married. Counseling doesn’t mean that your relationship is on the brink of ending. It’s being proactive when you realize you both need help sorting through some of your relationship issues. Like I said in Should I Remain Calm, or Curse Him Out? it’s better to seek outside support than to dog your partner out behind their back to your friends and loved ones.

Queendom Wife and Mother has literally been a public diary for me. While I am a private person, I know that sharing my truth will resonate with someone. Writing my feelings and thoughts will not only help me, but others too. Again, I’m no expert. What works for me may not work for you. My spiritual beliefs may not be your belief. Whatever you do, make sure you fill your partner up with positivity when they feel the world is falling on them.

 

Should I Remain Calm, or Curse Him Out?

It’s a known fact that when you’re in a relationship, at some point you and your partner will disagree. That doesn’t mean that each time you disagree it will rock your foundation. In my opinion, a disagreement in a relationship is the outcome of two completely different people trying to either make the other conform to their ways, or the two are trying to understand one another and meet on common grounds. Attitudes soar in disagreements and then it turns into an argument. In those intense moments, it’s super important to think about what your response or reaction will be. Effective communication is best. A screaming match, sleeping in separate rooms, going out drinking, or cheating won’t correct any issue within your relationship. Another mistake people make is talking about their partner terribly to family and friends when an argument has taken place.

We often make the mistake of dogging our spouse out to others behind their back. Simply put, words hurt. Even though you’re not saying it to them directly, you’re planting seeds about them in other people and putting it out there into the universe. Your words hold weight. Scripture says that the power of life and death lie within our tongues. We have to remember that old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” No matter how mad you are, no matter how sad you are… Think about what you’re saying before you say it. This doesn’t mean you have to sit quietly and suppress your emotions. It’s more so the act of practicing self control and loving your spouse through your pain and/or anger. Most of the time it’s not what our partners are saying, but it’s how they’re saying it that truly affects us.

Our words tend to be a reflection of our heart.

I don’t know how many times my friends and I and have had to reset our thoughts about each other’s boyfriends because we only spoke about the negative aspects of our relationships. We share all of our negative thoughts about our partners, never putting an emphasis on the good they do. In turn, we’re sowing a seed in ourselves and those around us. Now, if you’re in a relationship with a jerk, it is what it is. There’s no good to report.

So… should I keep calm or curse him out? Usually my initial thought is to curse him out and throw something at him, but I choose to stay calm. Why? Because although my feelings are valid, they may only be for the moment. I have to take the necessary time to assess what my husband has said to me to see if I truly agree or disagree. If I respond the wrong way immediately, it makes it hard to come back and remedy the situation.

This isn’t always an easy task. Most times I feel like I’m shutting down my feelings and letting him “win.” However, when I take the time to calm down, I’m able to come back to him and ask pertinent questions about what he said. Afterwards, I’m either able to confirm the feelings I felt or realize that I didn’t hear any of what he said correctly. I tend to shut my husband out after I hear the first point that I disagree with and my emotions naturally take over.

A few months ago, my husband and I were in a deep debate about the future of our family, and it was taking a toll on both of us. I was seriously sick because it was the first time we actually disagreed and neither of us were hinting at conceding to the other. We couldn’t see eye-to-eye, and I was confident in my feelings. I had no plans of backing down. We eventually softened our hearts to one another, but it was after a lot of prayer and guidance from my spiritual mentor. Guess what? My stance was valid, but my way turned out to be the wrong way.  Had we gone with my decision, we would have surely suffered. I gratefully stepped back, and let God and my husband do the work. I wanted to curse him out every time I spoke to him, and I wanted to run to my mother and friends and talk badly about him just so that I could hear “yeah you are so right.” I’m glad I didn’t. Instead, I prayed without ceasing and sought godly advice from those loved ones.

Over the years, I’ve matured gracefully and gained a great circle of accountability. I had no need to speak ill about my husband to my support system because they were able to offer sound advice rather than just their opinions. Get your mind right, learn how to communicate effectively, pray without ceasing for yourself, your partner and your relationship, and get your circle in order! Lastly, “be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”