Skip to main content

How we teach boys and girls about kissing is all wrong

When my daughter was in kindergarten, a boy friend kissed her. To my mind, both kids were equally a part of the kiss because it was mutual--they were playing Marriage, and had just pretended a wedding. To me, it was play. Nobody grabbed anyone or coerced anyone and nobody felt threatened or worried or bad. They even had a discussion about it in advance and decided cheek would do even if grownups did lips.

But others felt differently. The boy's mom was horrified, or maybe terrified? She imposed a severe consequence on him and had the school do the same. She apologized to me and made the boy apologize to my daughter.

One thing I know: this lady is a fantastic mom with wonderful kids.

One thing I understand: we do have a rape culture and I deeply appreciate boy moms who work hard to teach boys about respect and consideration of girls.

One thing I believe: we have to do something to improve how our boys and girls interact. That means effort with both boys and girls. Preferably in some positive and constructive way.

One thing that perplexes me to this day: why, all facts considered, in my specific case, everyone perceived my daughter as "the victim" and the boy as "the perpetrator." Odds are, my girl chose the game. Either way, she agreed to the kiss. I didn't want the boy punished -- I thought either neither kid or both kids. So everyone compromised and went with a reminder to both children about "okay touches and not okay touches" and how no kissing in class was a rule. That still sort of broke my heart.

One thing I think: I'm not sure that how this situation was handled or how other situations similar to it (as in the news story I'm posting below) do any good at all. The outcome of my case is my daughter never again played Marriage and decided it was not okay to be friends with boys, even though she enjoys boys as friends. I just can't help but wonder if we worsened the problem we were trying to solve.

So now we teach boys that ANY touching of a girl is a criminal act, so how do parents get across okay and not okay in the face of this? Because there is a distinction of okay and not okay. But we're losing it, I think, and I believe that's worsening the problem.

What do you think?

News story: Boy, 6, suspended from school for kissing girl on cheek and hand


StarTraci said…
Thank you! I was shocked at how the school responded. Even if the kiss was undesired he is 6 and needs positive re-direction not to be made to feel like a criminal. There is a reason that laws are different for children than adults -- children don't understand cause and effect. Teaching him how to properly express his feelings rather than punishing him would have been a far better use of the school's time.
I am a mom of both (including an over-hugging, over physically affectionate GIRL) and I try to teach them both that it is important to check in with their friends and use appropriate personal space.
Korinthia Klein said…
I think zero tolerance policies are seldom a good idea. Life is nuanced, and we don't do our children or society any favors by forcing people to think in such black and white terms. What your child did was like being in a play. It was consensual and didn't harm anyone. To treat the incident as if it did was to create harm where none existed in my opinion. I think good people are overreacting in cases like this in order to feel like they can create balance in a world where so much injustice goes unchecked. We need to be more rational and keep things in proportion.
Zero tolerance is like mandatory minimums, it doesn't take into consideration context and doesn't allow for humans to interpret. It's supposed to be there to provide equal punishment regardless of who is deciding on it or the extenuating circumstances. What it actually does is take the human element out and create situations like this.
S said…
I think that this has gone way overboard, and that the school admin acted foolishly.

Common sense, people. Let's use it.

Popular posts from this blog

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quorum

After being confronted with written evidence, Julie admits that she is a total attention whore. In some things, in some ways, sometimes I look outward for validation of my worth and existence. I admit it. It's my weak spot, my vanity spot . If you say I am clever, comment on a post, offer me an award, mention me on your blog, reply to a comment I left on your blog, or in any way flatter me as a writer...I am hopelessly, slavishly devoted to you. I will probably even add you to my blogroll just so everyone can see the list of all the cool kids who actually like me . The girl, she knows she is vain in this regard , but after much vanity discussion and navel-gazing , she has decided to love herself anyway, as she is (ironically) and will keep searching for (1) internal validation and (2) her first person . Until I reach a better point of self-actualization, though, may I just say that this week you people have been better than prozac and chocolate (together, with a side of whi

Is your name yours? How your name affects your success...

Made by Andrea Micheloni Not too long ago I read What's in a name? by Veronica Mitchell. She'd read the NPR/USA Today article, Blame it on your name , that shared new research results: "a preference for our own names and initials — the 'name-letter effect' — can have some negative consequences." Veronica's post and that article got me thinking about names, and their importance. Changing to my husband’s name and shedding my maiden name was no love lost for me. By the time we married, I’d have gladly married any other name just for a change. My maiden name was a trial; I was sick of spelling it, pronouncing it, explaining it, and dealing with the thoughtless rude comments about it. My sister and I dreamed and planned for the day we could shed that name. So I wonder, sometimes, whether I adequately considered what a name change would actually mean. Heritage and genealogy matter to me and my maiden name reflected a great deal of familial history. Histo

Cave liberum...the Hump Day Hmm for 8-29-2007

When we lead our shiny, trepidatiously excited little children to kindergarten in Big School for the first time, I think our real fear is what school will do to our children, what it will turn them into...what they'll learn outside of the lesson plans. I think we fear this because every one of us knows exactly what else we learned in school...the things our parents probably never knew about directly (although I expected they figured it out to some degree, having been there, done that too). I think we fear this because every one of us on some level spends the rest of our lives undoing at least one thing we came out of school with that we don't really like. I've never heard anyone say this out loud, but I think we all realize that school will be, to some degree, both the making of and ruination of our children. And we know our job has transitioned from CITB (Chief Influencer of Thought and Belief) to PUP (Picker Up of the Pieces). I'm not being melodramatic, friends.