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My recent post, The Three Rules I Made My Daughter Swear To Obey In College, had an overwhelmingly positive response. I have another daughter about to embark on her college journey and the rules will remain the same for her. But, I also have an eleven-year-old son and I began to wonder what the rules would be for him if he were leaving for college tomorrow?
I was surprised at how much thought I needed to put into these rules because it not only involved keeping him physically safe, but safe from vulnerable situations with girls. As a mother of two daughters, I do believe my daughters have a responsibility to not to put themselves in vulnerable situations. I also believe that I have taught them well how to avoid such precarious circumstances. However, I think my son holds more responsibility in an intimate situation than a girl and part of that responsibility is not putting himself in any compromising situations. Is that sexist and unfair of me or just a reality to where we are in the world today? I’m not sure, and frankly, I don’t care – my goal is to keep my son safe and to make him smart enough to avoid a situation that could alter his future.
So, where would the rules begin? First, I would say that rules outlined in, The Three Rules I Made My Daughter Swear To Obey In College, apply equally to him (refer to back to this post for more specifics):
- Travel in groups and leave no one behind.
- Watch when your drink is poured, keep your hand over your drink at all times, and never leave your drink unattended.
- NEVER go anywhere after dark alone, PERIOD!
Those are pretty basic and will protect him from situations that could cause him physical harm. But the rules for him don’t end there. Understand, before I go further, that my son’s education on how to treat others, including girls, began at birth. First, through the constant example of my husband which is probably the most impactful of any lesson. Second, from the way I have always required him, and his sisters, to treat others; this included kindness, thoughtfulness, respect, and honesty. And, third, by the way I required him to treat females starting with his sisters and me. I will not wait until the drive to drop him off at college to first teach him these lessons but I will take that opportunity to remind him, yet again, of what I’ll call rules of engagement. Rules for his interactions with girls. As I’ve stated before, I’m a modern mom, so the rules are not intended to keep him from engaging in sexual activity – I’m not an idiot. But, he does need to be very smart and careful. Let me also preface this by saying I do not encourage or condone the use of alcohol (especially underage) or drugs but I am also not naïve enough to believe that it is not a possibility. The rules for my son continue below with 4-10.
4. NEVER engage in intimate acts when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That’s a great place to start, right? We don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs because our decision-making abilities are altered as is our reaction time. You’re not allowed to sign legal agreements under the influence of alcohol or drugs either – those rules are meant to protect you from yourself. It is understood that in an altered state of mind, people make bad decisions.
8. If you are over the age of 18, you MAY NOT ENGAGE IN INTIMATE ACTS WITH SOMEONE YOUNGER THAN 18! This is more likely a possibility in high school than in college, but still, a good rule to live by. I don’t care if the other person signs a 100-page consensual agreement and has it notarized. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, may you engage in intimate acts with someone under the age of 18 once you turn 18!
9. ALWAYS use protection. I’m too young to be a grandmother. My child is too young to be a father. I don’t want my child contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Even if it is a long-term relationship and the girl is on birth control pills – ALWAYS. USE. PROTECTION! I’d rather embarrass my child by providing birth control than worrying about him not using it because he doesn’t have it. That’s why it will be on my son’s college shopping list when it comes time for him to go and why I snuck it into my daughter’s luggage without telling her when she left for school.
10. ALWAYS treat your date respectfully. I guess, when it comes to manners, I’m old fashioned. My husband holds open doors and opens my car door. I’ve already taught my son to do the same when he is with his sisters or me. I believe that if my son takes someone out on a date, that he is responsible, in part, for her safety for the evening. That includes seeing her home safely to her door, not just pulling up and dropping her off. It also includes not putting her in dangerous or precarious situations.
Once I am away from my son, I can only hope that I’ve impressed these rules upon him in a profound enough way to stick with him everywhere he goes and with everyone he comes into contact with. I’ll never stop worrying about any of my children and I’ll do everything I can to prepare them for the situations they will face in life.
What did you tell your son about sexual assault on campus? What guidelines did you give your son for interacting with girls? Leave your comments below. Also, join our discussions on Facebook, Parenting Your College Student. Sharing is caring…if you enjoyed this post, please share it with others.