This past weekend the verdict was handed down the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial of two teenage boys. The verdict, crime and victim have been hotly debated. The defense attorney in me looked at the story one way. While the mom in me looked at it another. It is as the mother of a son, who is a good boy, that I write this article. As mothers of sons, it is important for us to realize we are our sons’ first and most important teachers and we must be specific when teaching our sons life lessons. We must also realize that we cannot teach our sons every lesson they need to learn. Some lessons a boy must learn must come from a man, preferably, the boy’s father. However, if the father is not around or is incapable of teaching, we must find a man to teach our sons the things that they just cannot learn or do not typically learn from mothers.
Often, as mothers, we shake our heads at the bad behavior of children we see in criminal news stories. We hold our heads a little higher and take comfort in the fact that those stories could never be about our children, because our children are good children, well-behaved children and children who would never do such a thing. Interestingly, several new stories reported that the boys in the Steubenville case were good boys, who were on their way to college and exciting lives full of good things.
There are important lessons mothers must teach their sons and there are other lessons that we cannot teach them, but must find others to teach for us. We can teach our sons that no means no. We can teach them that if a girl is drunk, unconscious or too sick to understand what is going on around her, she should not be touched and that someone should be called in to get her assistance. We can teach our sons they should never treat any girl, any woman in a way that he would not allow someone to treat his sisters or his mother. Those are good lessons. They are a basement, a bare minimum of knowledge we need to give our sons when we allow them to leave our homes. However, there is still so much more they need to learn.
Our sons need to learn what it is like to be men, good men, men who stand up for what it right and good even when it is not popular. Our sons need to learn that men can be kind, compassionate and caring. Our sons need to learn that there is a slippery and dangerous slope that stands between doing one little thing wrong and being sentenced to jail for five years and branded a sex offender for life. Our sons need to learn that a boy can go from a good boy to a bad boy in a matter of just a few moments. Our sons need to learn that those life changing moments happen quickly, without warning and are often disguised as something else.
As mothers we need to realize that no matter how good we are as mothers, no matter how good we are at teaching our sons life lessons, we can never teach them to be men. We cannot teach our sons male responsibility and we cannot teach them the strength a man needs to walk away from peer pressure and stand tall as a man. This has nothing to do with the superiority of one sex over another. It has nothing to do with an argument between single mothers and married mothers. It has everything to do with the fact that each of the sexes has special and unique gifts and lessons to teach. As mothers, we need to recognize our sons have to learn many lessons and need many teachers and that sometimes, the best person to teach our sons a lesson is a man.
Photo credit: Janeane Davis, Steubenville verdict reaction
The fact that date rape is rape, and that it is wrong, is a lesson that mothers try to teach their sons. This is a lesson that a boy is more likely to learn and appreciate if it comes from his father. I do not know why this is the case, it just is. I don’t understand all the intricacies of why my television works either, but I use it anyway. Because the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter why boys learn some things about women, sex and rape better from their fathers than from their mothers. I just have to know it’s true and marshal forces together to make sure my husband teaches my son the lessons a son needs to learn from a man.
In conclusion, the lesson I learned from the recent rape trial in Steubenville, Ohio is that our boys, our good boys have a lot of lessons they need to learn and as mothers it is our job to make sure our sons get all the teachers they need. I have to be secure enough and strong enough as a mother to allow my son to learn from the best teachers possible even if that teacher is a man.