The 10 Rules I Will Teach My Son Before College

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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):

  1. Travel in groups and leave no one behind.
  2. Watch when your drink is poured, keep your hand over your drink at all times, and never leave your drink unattended.
  3. 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.

5. NEVER engage in intimate acts with anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with anyone whom you suspect to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even if you are fully in control of your own actions you need to understand that the other person’s judgment is altered if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re just not sure if they’re completely sober, assume that they are not. A person under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot consent to intimate acts.6. NEVER engage in intimate acts with someone you just met. This isn’t meant to be a prude but to be safe. As tempting as it might be, getting to know someone will help you better know if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at each future meeting. It will also help you learn their judgment, what kind of morals they have, etc. Waiting has never killed anyone and it won’t now either. One night stands are bad for many reasons but in the college environment, they can be dangerous. You don’t know this person well enough to be sure that in moments of regret the following day they will not represent the encounter in a way that isn’t true.
7. NO MEANS NO! And, for that matter – MAYBE means NO! I’m not sure means NO! No response at all means NO! I don’t like that means NO! Someone saying yes under duress means NO! Someone who is being persuaded to say yes means NO! Active participation without saying yes means NO! I will tell my son that he is required to get verbal consent before engaging in intimate acts. Will that ruin the mood? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter and I don’t care. The only answer that doesn’t equal no, is a clear YES.  To go a step further, A previous YES does not equal a blanket YES. Just because someone said yes the last time, doesn’t mean they are giving consent this time. Consent has to be given each time and as things progress in a single encounter. So, just because someone said yes to kissing, doesn’t mean they said yes to anything that might follow. Again, will it ruin the mood?? I. DON’T. CARE! I will teach him that he has no right to expect physical affection at any point in a relationship nor the right to pressure anyone into doing something they don’t want to do.

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.

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8 Comments

  • E Schleich says:

    My son was never much of a drinker. While living in the fraternity house he held several offices including Sargent at Arms. (Military fraternity). He told us that he was making sure inebriated coeds made it back to their dorms safely and would walk them there himself. We told him to stop doing that immediately unless he had a buddy go with him. The reason? Girls have been known to falsely accuse young men of rape and or any sexual offense. The way things are set up on campuses these days, if a young man is accused, the accuser is automatically believed. The young man has no legal recourse. The college can and will throw them out without due course. So, moms of sons, please tell your son to be aware of this and to protect themselves from it.

    • 21st Century Mom says:

      It’s unfortunate all around. Unfortunate that girls need to worry about their safety and unfortunate the boys have to tread so carefully and be fearful of false accusations. So important to know the people you spend time with.

      • Britany says:

        Statistically the number of girls who falsely report a sexual assault is around 2-8% the exception is certainly not the rule.

        • 21st Century Mom says:

          All around, it’s a shame that any of these conversations need to take place and that we need to protect our children from the small percentage of people (male and female) who have evil intent.

  • Mary says:

    Told my sons, Anything after no is rape. If they hear NO, they better see a big red Stop sign and stop.

  • Debbie Adler says:

    It’s true, it’s sad that we have to worry about this and out so much pressure on our kids, but it’s so important that we discuss all of this with them. Thanks for a great and insightful article!

  • Cheryl says:

    Curious why you did not include 4, 5 & 6 in your conversations/article related to your daughters. I would think those would be just as important for them. I recognize the concern for your son would be an accusation of rape, but safety would be of concern to me if my daughter, or the man she was with, was intoxicated.

    • 21st Century Mom says:

      I agree that they definitely apply to my daughters as well. I guess, for them, I didn’t include it in conversations specific to these rules because it had been discussed and I felt confident that they understood. These three rules were prompted by awful stories I would read of girls raped or in some horrific circumstances where girls were never seen again. When I looked at so many of these stories, it seemed that most could have been prevented by the three rules. I agree with you that the other rules are important as well.

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