We teach our young children safety in every aspect, like staged fire drills, earthquake drills, stranger danger, what parts of their body should be considered private etc. But often over look emotional health and well being, especially as they get older.
As vigilant parents, we have to over-come our own awkwardness and have the hard conversations. Tell your daughters and sons what domestic violence and abuse looks like. Prepare them so they never doubt themselves or perpetrate it on another.
Teach them an escape plan for abuse. What to do if they find themselves the victim of a situation you never want to imagine will happen.
For my daughter, our plan goes like this:
1. Do whatever you need to do to stay safe in the immediate moment.
2. Remove yourself from the situation/person ASAP.
3. If unable to remove self, get to a phone soon as it is safe and you can.
4. Call your brother or me and we will come get you immediately-no questions asked.
It's simple and not too much to think about in an emergency.
Encourage them to listen to their inner voice that tells them something is just off about a person. To pay attention when they get a bad vibe. Most of all, empower them with healthy boundaries.
Explain to your sons and daughters, their individual value and how a relationship will never meet all their needs or make them whole-because they aren't half a person! And their deepest needs can only be met by Christ.
This way they won't over ride red flags, signs and checks in their spirit out of desperation, the idea that they lack the worthiness to be treated with respect and honor or worse; that no one else will ever love or want them.
Speak God's identy truths into them-yes! This is not a guarantee...just as earthquakes, fires, and accidents happen. Situations can happen that we may never expect, but they must be prepared for them. This isn't fearful parenting any more than having a fire escape route in your home or explaining gun safety. This is empowered parenting!
Build up your children spiritually and emotionally, as well as equipping them practically. I didn't grow up witnessing any form of domestic violence between my parents but it was never explained or talked about either. It wasn't clear to me what it was exactly...I thought it only looked like someone getting beat up and visibly bruised regularly.
Now I've learned, it doesn't always look that way and can be even more unrecognizable if you are unfamiliar with abusive behaviors.
You are your children's advocate. The most equipped teacher of life experience IS YOU! You can do this!