How you raise your kids is none of my business, until it affects my kids.

That’s the mantra all parents should abide by unless .. a) how you’re raising your kids is putting them in danger, or b) how you’re raising your kids is a platform to affect how others raise their kids.

Ben Mulroney (above center) is a host of Your Morning, CTV‘s national breakfast news and information program. In other words, he has a platform to tell other people how to raise their kids and has used it in the past. On Thursday, November 23, 2017, the topic of an initiative by the Girl Scouts of America to not force kids to hug relatives was discussed.

Mulroney went off (the segment in question runs from 22:00 to 24:41 in the video below).

The timing of his rant is interesting as November 25th is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. An initiative called #20Minutes4Change was created to help end the violence by starting at the root of the cause: raising better sons. Dads are asked to talk to their kids about consent, how to respect it, and more.

Ben Mulroney doesn’t react specifically to the #20Minutes4Change cause, but his illogical rant does show that we have work to do on this issue.

That’s example (b) from the none of my business exceptions above. And it dovetails to a). Let’s break it down:

“My issue is what I would say to the Girl Scouts is you do what you do and I, as a parent, I’m going to do what I do, and don’t tell me how to parent my kid,” starts Mulroney.

Nobody is telling you “how to raise your kids,” Ben Mulroney. The Girl Scouts are raising an issue that they see among the thousands of girls they work with each day. In light of sexual assault headlines from Hollywood to the White House, the group is being proactive in saying we need to teach our girls the confidence to say no.

The essay is something to think about, it’s not dogma. And think about it we should.

Have you ever insisted, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.

Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.

His co-hosts valiantly tried to throw water on his fire, but Mulroney would have none of it during the more than 2 minute segment. “I also believe parents have full and complete dominion over how they raise their children,” he blasted.

Woah. We’re treading into exception (a) with this tirade.

This kind of attitude breeds people like David and Collet Stephan, the Alberta parents who treated their son’s meningitis with natural remedies and homemade smoothies of hot peppers and ginger root. Their son needlessly died, and the parents were found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Their belief in holistic medicine has not abated and they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to appeal their conviction, vowing to take their case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Their rallying cry during their campaign has been to have “the rights of loving parents be restored and protected.”

No, Ben Mulroney. No, David Stephan. No, Collet Stephan. Parents do not have full and complete dominion over their children.

“You’re treading in very dangerous waters telling me I’m not telling my child to ‘consent’ to a hug. Those are words I use in describing issues of sexual predation. And, I’m sorry, when it comes to hugging a family member, I will have the final say,” Mulroney continued to heat up.

Mike Reynolds is a dad blogger in Ottawa. He’s a proud feminist, raising two girls, and has often talked about issues around consent dismissing those (like Mulroney) who think consent is just a sexual issue. He tells a story about his then 5 year old daughter who “hates having her picture taken.”

“This is where consent comes in—we don’t take her picture.

We know she doesn’t like having her picture taken because she has told us she does not. So we ask for her permissions every time we would like a picture of her. And then we wait for her answer. She says no. Almost always. She doesn’t even look up at us when we ask. She just continues doing what it is we would like a picture of her doing.

We would love to beg her to change her mind because this moment is so wonderful. So many people would love to see this picture of her. Oh, but that is coercion and that is also wrong. So we don’t take her picture.”

And that story had me reflect on how I interact with my boys. If they don’t want to work on a blog project with me, fine. I’ll respect their wishes. Are there times when they don’t get a say? Sure, when chores need to be done outside the house, and my 7 yr old doesn’t want to come along, he doesn’t get a choice. But Mike’s words, and now the Girl Scouts‘ essay has given me pause to think and adjust how I do things in a way that works for us.

That’s all they’re asking.

Maybe it’s Mulroney’s conservative upbringing, the son of a Prime Minister, that has him bristling at being told what to do.

“I don’t need that message from them. I’m a fairly competent parent. I don’t need the Girl Scouts parenting my kid. Full stop,” his rant ended, he smugly leaned back in his chair to sip his coffee while a co-host changed the topic.

The timing of Mulroney going off the rails is a reminder of why efforts like #20Minutes4Change are needed.

November 25th is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.This weekend dads are asked to take 20 minutes to talk to their sons and, I would offer, daughters about consent.  Mulroney could certainly use the time out to rethink his priorities. #20Minutes4Change make it wasy by giving dads the script they need to talk to about consent.

Hey Brian, try this out on Ben:

20Minutes4Change Script

How you raise your kids is none of my business, until it is.

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