As many others across the nation, my husband and I have been discussing the circumstances surrounding Judge Kavanagh’s recent nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court. While many across the nation have clear opinions on the recent events, interviews, and investigations my husband and I are not sure how we feel and struggle to put our thoughts into words.
Initially, we felt the time frame of the alleged events occurring almost 40 years ago had to be impossible to remember because we can barely remember details of our high school events that occurred just 20 years ago. After thinking about the events from high school that I do recall, they all involved significant moments or events whether pleasant or traumatic. Although I have never been a victim of sexual assault, I would assume it is a significant event in a person’s life and would likely ingrain many memories for the rest of an individual’s life.
My husband and I have two daughters and one son who are rapidly approaching their teenage years. The questions surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination has us making serious reflections on what we should teach our children now and in the future about how to treat others and how they should expect to be treated. Although it is unlikely that many of our children will be appointed to the Supreme Court, there are important lessons for all of us.
Events of our teenage and college years can impact the rest of our lives. Although we may never have solid proof of what did or did not happen almost 40 years ago, it is an example of how an event in the young adult years can result in significant impact for individuals for years to come. Dr. Ford claimed to have suffered emotional pain from the experience for years following the alleged assault. In turn, the alleged events almost hindered Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Both lives have been impacted.
Unlike Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, our children are more likely to have some sort of digital documentation of most events of their teenage years making it potientially more difficult to recover and move on from the past. We must help our children as much as possible to navigate the difficult teenage years and understand that repercussions of reckless behavior can be life-long.
Dads and other men need to embrace the changes in perspective around sexual behavior. It is important for current dads, grandfathers and men who influence the lives of young men to embrace the changes in acceptable sexual behavior in order that we help our young boys understand the how to respect all females. It is becoming increasingly clear that more women will not stand for mistreatment, assault or the “boys will be boys” mentality whether they take an immediate stance or wait years to build the courage to speak up. Not embracing the changes can only result in the potential ruin of lives.
Our girls also need to feel safe to speak up. If our teenage girls hear the stories of how Dr. Ford has been receiving death threats following her testimony and disregarded by others, what message does that speak to our girls about speaking up when if they have been assaulted? From a young age, we need to figure out how to create a safe space for our girls to speak up and seek the help they need following any assault or any bullying situation.