July 11, 2020
Global Hope 365, like many nonprofits, has taken our advocacy online during the global pandemic. Global Hope 365 has been hosting monthly virtual coffee meetups with guests who are experts in promoting gender equality through ending human trafficking and child marriage.
Stacey Robbins is a Wellness Coach, Speaker, and Author. Stacey's book An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide, is filled with gut-honesty and humor, sharing stories of marriage, parenting, health issues, travel, and spirituality. Stacey joined us on a Saturday in July to talk about raising two teenage sons. Stacey will share her experience raising two teenagers in Southern California, protecting kids online, and advocating for human rights.
This talk occurred about four months into the global pandemic. April 2020, the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received about four million reports of child exploitation incidents. That is quadruple the number of reports just one year earlier in April 2019. Reports of internet crime against juveniles in San Diego County, which mostly involve sharing illicit photos of minors, have tripled since the pandemic started, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
Stacey is a coach who helps women overcome challenges of health, trauma, and ravaged self-esteem. Stacey is no stranger to tough conversations and confronting tough topics.We knew Stacey would have some insight into the dynamics of abuse and how to fiercely protect kids online.
Let’s just say we were blown-away by Stacey’s openness and deep wisdom on raising kids. Here are six takeaways from Stacey’s talk that left the audience in absolute awe. The tips from Stacey go far deeper than monitoring the use of your kid’s devices. Yes, she does say that but a whole lot more.
Takeaways from Stacey’s talk:
One of the best ways I know to protect my children is to have them know who they are and their immense value on the inside.That means that I treat them with respect. I say, “Please” and “Thank you”. I don’t hit them or berate them as a method of correction. I don’t cross the line of their honor -- in their body, mind our soul -- and into dishonor just because I’m an adult and I want them to behave or be acceptable to others. I am, with them, what I want them to be with themselves: Loving, honoring, honest, and respectful. I set the standard for their self-respect: If I treat myself and my children like we are sacred, they will better understand their value and the value of others. Then, when someone comes and mistreats them or devalues them -- but call it ‘love’ -- my kids have a better chance of seeing it for what it is and speaking up or walking away.
The way they live a life of self-honor, self-protection, and self-representation in their future is by practicing that at home -- in the living room, at the dinner table, and in front of others. They have to be given a place to practice the strength of their voice, displeasure, and disagreement at home SO THAT when they are out in the world and someone tries to cross their boundaries, they have practiced their self-honor and self-representation. It is unfair for us to expect our children to be compliant in our home and then, brave out in the world. They have to practice bravery under our roof - even if it’s not comfortable or easy for US -- so that they can be brave to stand up to a stranger or family member or friend who is trying to harm them anywhere else. We let it be uncomfortable on us now so that it can be comfortable for them to represent later.
Children live what they learn. Entertainment is education to them. I don’t put my kids in front of shows with bad behavior and then, expect my kids to have good behavior. What message do I send if I put them in front of bad behavior on television and then, laugh at it -- and then, expect them to behave differently? How could I let them watch The Three Stooges push each other down the stairs and then expect them to protect their brother walking down the stairs? I can’t expect that and then punish them for doing what they saw so, I aim to value continuity of our values rather than valuing entertaining shows, especially while they’re young and still learning. I send clear messages not mixed messages. When you keep things clear when they are little, they have a better chance of remaining clear when life gets messy later.
I taught my kids about opposites when they were little: Up/down, left/right, go/stop. One day I asked them what the opposite of love was. They both answered from the back of the car, at 2 and 4 years old.: “Not love.” That stilled me and made me sigh. My aim in raising them in nature, with music, and safe people -- without TV and overstimulation or chaotic, dramatic environments -- was to have them remain connected to who they were and what love was. The love inside of themselves and the love with honoring, honest, imperfect parents. Because I knew that eventually someone would come with ideas and offers that were ‘not love’ and I wanted my kids to be able to be so clear and strong on what was truly loving that they would be able to stand tall or quickly walk away from all that was ‘Not love.”
Parenting to protect your children from predators means that we stand guard with our kids when they developmentally can’t stand guard for themselves. We don’t send a 5 year-old outside and say, “Hey! Be careful, don’t let anyone take you… good luck!” No, we sit on the steps and keep a watchful eye... We stand with them, we watch over them and they see us do that. Then, as they grow, we teach them the skills and reasons why to watch out for themselves. We do the same with kids or teens on the computer. We don’t send them out to the World Wide Web with “Hey! Be careful -- don’t let anyone take you (or bully you or take advantage of you)… good luck!” We sit with them, we are connected to what they do, we check in on them and teach them skills until they can manage themselves.
We foster connection and help them maintain connection with who they are. I remember being taught that bankers are taught to recognize counterfeit bills by becoming experts on the real bills, then, anything that was not real was easily identified as fake. I wanted my children to remain so connected and clear on who they were and how sacred they were -- through time in nature, with musical instruments, art, dance, conversation, reading, gardening… anything that kept their mind connected to their inner peace, power, and happiness -- that when anyone came their way and offered them something that was not really and truly honoring of them, that they would be able to recognize that for what it was and to walk away.