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Categories: Family

What the Steubenville Verdict Taught This Mother

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.
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
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.


Janeane Davis

View Comments

  • I certainly agree that both perspectives - male and female - should be carried down to our children (from responsible people << a MUST!). This goes for girls too. We, too, need that male perspective growing up. I remember growing up, I didn't have that male model and sometimes I question if I'd be in a different place if I had. I'm so glad that stated this has nothing to do with single or married moms because some people would immediately take offense to this topic - for no reason though if you ask me. It all boils down to proper education...but these days, I hate to admit it, I don't know where they'll get it from... *sigh*

    • You said so many great things in your reply. I agree that girls need a man's attention and teaching. I know my duaghters benefit from it. You are also right that it is not a situation of single moms versus married moms. It is a situation of there are just some things men are better at teaching and so they should do it!

  • I think the whole thinking of violence against women needs to be addressed. I am always stunned when I hear casual conversation about "just pushing" or "she wanted it" We need to educate and continue to educate our children.

    • Yes!!!! It is important to teach our girls and boys that example. My husband always tells my son, "Your mother gets on my nerves all the time. You have never seen me hit her or disrespect her. You have no excuse to hit or disrespect any woman." I don't like hearing I get on his nerves "all the time" but there is nothing like action to teach a child a lesson.

  • As the now divorced mother of a son, I am first and foremost interested in teaching my son how to be a productive member of society. He should do his part to promote a positive image for himself, family and community. Behavior that goes against this is not and should not be tolerated. This ranges anywhere from public decorum, to inter and intra personal behaviors to being of service to those around him. Naturally, helping others is covered in this discussion. I do agree that men should be available to put the flavor on how exactly a man should conduct himself. There are just some elements that coming from a man connotate better with a young boy/man. Mothers have long and strong influence, but for the essence and flavor that makes a boy make the lesson his own, a man's influence cannot be beat.

    • I agree with you. We mothers are incredible and we get into our sons everything and every lesson we can. It is just nice to have a man put the finishing touches on making boys men!

  • I agree it is important to teach our children, both our daughters and our sons life lessons and emphasize cause and effect with them. The saying goes...it takes a village to raise a child and I agree this is true to, but those lessons should start with mothers and fathers. Thanks for sharing your point of view on this.

  • If a father is present and available, there are definitely things that a son needs to learn from him. However if there isn't a father present, then mentoring programs can be a great alternative. So grateful for the men out their who take their role seriously.

  • It is so important to find a man (like you said, hopefully the father) that not only tells their boys how girls and women should be treated, but also shows them. Actions speak so loudly. What a great perspective. As parents, we do the best that we can and sometimes it is so overwhelming when we realize that everything that we do and say is in some ways a lesson for our children.

  • What an interesting perspective, thanks for speaking out because I think it is often women and moms who are so horrified by these stories, but the dads and men need to have a part in addressing it with their sons AND daughters. They definitely bring a unique perspective that we just don't have.

  • I agree with your comments. I like the line about telling boys to treat girls the way they would want their mother or sisters treated. I think that image makes it more concrete for them - and in the situation they can think - what if this were my sister? Also, to know if they need to think about whether it is their sister, it is probably not a great choice in the first place!

  • I, as a dad have done the best that i could in raising my son. I do feel that I have done a good job as my son has never treated a woman wrong, and, has always made sure that he protects any woman that he knows.I agree with your post about teaching our sons to be good men. I also can say that I agree that a girl should have a training from a good, strong woman in her life preferably her mom but even a good female relative who can help instill strength, love and an open heart.

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