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How To Talk To Little Girls About "Bad Guys" | Teach safety to your kids without making them scared











Season 1 Episode 4

Summary

Gentle TW: we are handling a tender topic this week. While no alarming details are shared, there is reference to sexual assault and a broad conversation around the safety of women and girls. Take good care of yourselves; feel free to skip or circle back to this episode when the moment is right for you <3


This week we take a question from Jess' seven-year-old daughter about "bad guys." Jess talks about a mother's urge to promise her child that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Layne shares her experience of surviving an encounter with a "bad guy" and some real-life, practical skills that can actually keep children safer. We talk about the power of teaching little girls how to grow into women who value their own experiences and use their voices.


Join Very Good Mother's Club to be a part of our community and get your questions answered on a future episode!


Find Jess at Jessica Hover on Youtube and @jess_hover on Instagram


Find Layne @enquiryco on Instagram



Transcription

Layne:

I am in swearing purgatory. To be so transparent, we filmed four of these before you've seen the very first one. So what happened is that in the first episode, in the second episode, I said a swear word, as I generally do, and like really caught myself and really apologized and then you put out a plea to the listeners to please let us know. Are you listening to this with your children? Is this like, going to be a problem? Or can I speak the way that I normally speak…


Jessica:

And we still don't know because the first episode is coming out next Tuesday.


Layne:

First episode is coming out next Tuesday, which when you see this will be a full month ago. So we will be full full full of content while I'm still sitting here monitoring my words.


Jessica:

Yeah, I think I've lived my life so filtered for so long that it's just not, it's not a thing. And yet, I love when you swear it and you use it perfectly. You're just so good with words. So it's never a waste of space. But we do understand if you're listening with little ones we don't want Auntie Layne to be the reason that little Lily learned how to say the F word or something.


Layne:

Right, though if she did, I would teach her how to contextualize it correctly. But I don't know her. I'm not going to talk to her. So I won't swear in front of her. But it feels very good to just like at the opening of this episode to let off the steam that I've been very careful in not swearing as well as having such a good job.


Jessica:

I'm Jessica Hover.


Layne:

I'm Layne Deyling Cherland and this is Very Good Enough: a podcast from Very Good Mothers Club.


Jessica:

So my Eloise, she's seven we had this incident happen. Well, I should start with this. Wilson. He's three and he is obsessed with trucks. Obsessed. Wrecking balls are like his favorite thing ever. He talks about it all the time. Multiple times a day he asked me if I can get him a wrecking ball track toy which I've never even seen a wrecking ball track toys so where like it actually swings. I like attached a little ball to a string to his basketball hoop and was like there it is. And it was fun for a moment but it's not the wrecking ball toy he has his mind set on him his heart set on that I've never seen and he's never seen. I've looked it up. I can't find it anywhere. Because I thought like for a next Christmas gift or something, you know, this is what he asked for multiple times a day. So there was one that we saw on walmart.com and I told Eloise I think this place has one I never go to Walmart- didn't actually even know where the one was, but there's one pretty close to us. I go there with Eloise and we have our hearts set on finding the wrecking ball truck and I wasn't actually even intending on buying the wrecking ball truck in that moment. I just want to know that they have it. So that one day when the time is right. There will be this really special exchange of a gift and love and he will have the joy and it'll be beautiful and Eloise is on board because she is his roommate. They talk about wrecking balls every day. It’s very sweet, they are best friends. And so we go and we can't find the wrecking ball we scour the aisles like Eloise is on a mission to find Wilson this wrecking ball truck. So as she's looking for this wrecking ball truck, she's like Mom, if we find it, I'll give away 20 toys if we can get it today. And I'm like that is very cute and to be very honest, financially in that moment I'm like, I don't know if I'm ready to put $20 towards this. We have some needs. It's a tough time. I'm just not sure about that. Then, we can't find the truck. We've looked everywhere. But then Eloise finds a Paw Patrol wrecking ball truck that is $50 and luxury. Yeah, luxury.. Also, Wilson is a very new fan of Paw Patrol, very new, but very much a fan of Paw Patrol. We’ve for sure had a lot of conversations about Paw Patrol and wrecking balls. Never an overlap he never suspected. But here it was Eloise had landed on the jackpot of wrecking ball trucks. I remember the feeling of being a kid and wanting certain things and my family being in a state financially where we couldn't get them and I remember what a bad feeling it was. We weren't poor. But there were moments where I thought we weren't compared to my friends. We probably were to compare to my friends to be honest, but I would never want to like make my moms feel like we were in a bad place. They worked really hard. But yeah, so I remember that feeling. So as this is happening my gut is like, I just feel like a little bit of a drop inside of like, oh my gosh, she found this. She's so excited about it. But we're really not in a month in (this happened a few weeks ago)-It wasn't the month I mean, it was the month where Shaun and I are going do we have to change the work I'm doing like what has to shift so we can make a living and afford our life right now. But she's so excited. So I don't want to tell her no. We get all the way to the register. And I know that if I get it she will be excited, Wilson will just be so happy he might not recover. But it will really be something significant for Shaun and I that I just didn't know if it was the moment for that. And so I'm trying to figure out how to handle this and we're at the register. We scan it. That's how close I am. So then I just, I couldn't do it. I didn't feel right about it. And so I pulled her aside and I was like “Girlfriend. I would love to get this for Wilson for you.” And she's like I'll get rid of all of my toys. I'll work like I'll do these things. And I was like so sweetie, the way that the money works actually is like if I have the money for this, I would be able to do that I would be the one paying you for the work you're doing or the things you're getting rid of or something like that's the transaction. So, I'm like, so if we don't have money as a team as our family team, then what we do is we look for ways to generate money for our family. So what mommy's doing is very good mother's club. She knows all about very good mothers clapboard. Mommy's doing YouTube work or mommy's doing these different things that earn money from outside of our home. And I mean, good job, Eloise because she wasn't crying. I mean, she had eaten so she had eaten. You know if she was hungry or tired, this would not have been there. So she’s really a bear.


Layne:

We're not doing the podcast anymore because she was eaten by a bear.


Jessica:

I gotta tell you that was my fear for a time I used to post about it on social media.I

was at a park and someone was like, oh, sometimes there's bears here. And I like it was like a part of the mountain. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I didn't know I had to be afraid of bears. Fear took me over. And I would be in a place where there certainly has never been a bear. And I am just looking like, there must be a bear here.


Layne:

Yeah, yeah. So it's sort of like it's your new substitute for just the overall trip and now that your child is alive, they will one day die you just delay that day.


Jessica:

I don't even know bears were that scary. And then someone explained to me which is funny because why would I go so far into like, Could you please terrify me with bears? Like what's so scary about it? They're like, No, and then they did look it up. It's not worth it. So what I meant to say was Eloise had eaten so she wasn't hungry, which means emotionally she was in a state where I could say something hard, and she might cry, but she definitely wouldn't have the major meltdown because she's seven. She got it. It was really crazy. I mean, she was sad. And she was like “could we hide the toy so that nobody else buys it and we come back?” Definitely.


Layne:

For a kid who has never been to a Walmart she seems to get it.


Jessica:

Yeah, it took me back to times I had done that…


Layne:

You know, where you hide things at Walmart? You take them from the toy aisle, far away. Yes. And then you take them to the women's clothing section, where there are those ones and then you put it inside a single rack. People from the 90s are just digging toys out from inside the circular rack.


Jessica:

Like a tickle me Elmo maybe


Layne:

The tickle me Elmo has endured. That toy has stood the test of time and let me tell you, I've never met a tickle me Elmo that I didn’t take out batteries.


Jessica:

The long story long is it was really good. I told her she understood and then what her sweet little self did is while we were driving home, she said, if I write a book and I sell it, can I use the money to buy Wilson a wrecking ball truck? And I was like, “Yes, of course. What should our book be like?" meaning--I'll help you do this. And she wanted to write a book for babies and little kids and have it be called the baby C's by Eloise and she like fully developed this concept in the car. She's like, I'm gonna teach little kids about letters and what words go with them, you know? And she's fully like she's got all these ideas for how it's going to be and she wants to draw all the pictures. And so I told her if she does this, then I'll take it and make it a book. And we'll sell it and then and then she also likes to sell art. That's how we went to Disneyland this year where she had sold art to get tickets for Disneyland. So I was like, I'm sure that I could find people who would want to buy a book for their kids. And I'm sure you could sell enough to buy a wrecking ball truck for Wilson. And so I told you the story and then what would you like us to do with the book that she's making?


Layne:

Well, I would first like to very publicly as I did privately, compliment Eloise on the Baby C’s by Eloise. You know, that is like, written in verse. Like there's a flow to that and a cadence that is truly genius, grownups sitting in like a conference like grown up men sit in conference rooms and are like, we have to sell another children’s book.


Jessica:

But wait, it's for babies. And it's the ABCs and her name is Eloise. I've got nothing.


Layne:

Yes, so off the dome genius. Yeah, that is a great like really, really impressive. And I just think that her like entrepreneurial spirit is really beautiful and giving in that it's really beautiful. And I feel like after she has what she most definitely will earn the amount of money that she needs to buy her brother this toy that we should like found something some kind of branch or wing of the business that continues to like fund Eloise's charitable work like takes her work and her money somewhere to help kids who are like local to her and in her same zone.


Jessica:

Well, since we're on the topic, of Eloise we can just actually use that to give us what this whole conversation is going to be about today because I'm in this new stage with her where she's experiencing more of the world. And so the other day when I was in the car with her, she asked me what does she do if a bad guy tries to get her in some way? And my initial reaction is to be like, that's not going to happen and and I mean it in the way of like, because I would never let that happen to you. You know, like the instinct speaking of bear like the mama bear in me is like, Oh, heck no, no bad guy is going to try and get you right. But when I came and talk to you about it later, it was more of an open conversation realizing how often girls are in a position where something bad actually does happen to them, where a bad guy actually does try to do something to them. And in talking to you about some of your own life experiences you gave me feedback that I actually immediately went home and talked to Shaun and Eloise about and I was like, Hey, I talked to my friend- she had a bad guy experience and here's what happened and here's what she wants you to to learn. And you can even teach her friends. I really was like, this is a good thing for little girls to know about. But I wondered could you kind of take us to what do I teach a little one or how do I talk to a little girl probably little kids in general but little girls specifically about this idea of bad guys and people who come with ill intent because I also don't want to scare her more. So even when I went home and I talked to her, I obviously didn't go into detail of what happened. It was more like here's what she did. And here's how she's okay.


Layne:

It's such a tricky one because there is this balance of wanting to convey to little girls who are gonna grow up to be women. This world is for you. You belong here. And this place belongs to you. This is as much your world as it is any person's world. And at the same time, they need to know that there are certain hazards that belong to them because they live in this body and we're sorry. So I'm really sorry for you that there's this additional thing because you live in this body so it's a tricky thing to talk about. And I'm kind of wondering if this may end up being like a little bit meandering because it feels so tender to me and so heavy and then also so normal. I get such a complex mixture of things. I wonder if it will be a little bit less less of a flow than I normal. I think that safety in this area comes a long time before you're in danger. So people who are predatory are looking for people who are easy to prey upon. So learning how to be someone who is less like less easily preyed upon is kind of one of the the underlying things. And one of the things that makes us easily preyed upon is not knowing how to use our voice and valuing other people's experience above our own. We, as adults, automatically expect that little girls are there to make it easy and make it fun and make it light and help share the responsibility and help lead the class and help clean up and help whatever and look after the boys. Those boys are so silly what a boy, he forgot his shoes. Can you take his shoes to him? This whole thing that we get is just kind of as an extra layer of socialization, and there's a leniency on little boys making little girls uncomfortable. That is just it gets kind of swept and swished away and all these things communicate to us that our experience is less important


Jessica

Almost like for the other person's experience. How is mine affecting yours? Let me let me shift and shape change to make sure that your experience is better.


Layne:

Yes. And part of that is that we don't express our experience. We don't use our voice to say, this is how I feel about what's happening here. I don't like it. I don't like this or we don't even notice a lot of the times I don't like the circumstance. It feels irrelevant. It's not even like Oh, I'm pushing down that I don't like this. It's just like I didn't didn't even check. So it doesn't feel important whether or not I like it. And then certainly, I don't know how to use my breath to wrap around the feeling of, please don't do that. I'm not enjoying that. And this comes from year one super, super tiny and being like, that's your uncle just give him a hug all the way up to being like in a dating world and being like in a bar space where somebody's all up around you like you know that thing where like men move around you but they start over here and somehow the semi circle comes close around and behind your whole body and brushes up against you just to the other side of you and you're like ****, then move you to the side by the small of your waist. Unbelievable. Can I just take a moment in the midst of this conversation to say that is not acceptable, right? That someone can touch your waist. It blows your mind. Yeah, but I don't say anything. Because if I were to be like, Get your **** hands off me. Don't touch me like that. That person may or may yell at me. Like the response to that may be the man who yelled at me may get drunk or later right and I may encounter him outside and now I'm in danger. Ral danger. So saying something like I don't like that. Don't touch my body like that could actually do worse. Yeah, and most of the time I'm not sure and then one out of however many of the times you're real danger it kind of goes all the way from up to down we offload the responsibility of our own or we take on responsibility of someone else's experience over our own. So in the interest of raising girls know how to not be easily preyed upon. I have a mom who has always been so a part of our lives, which is like one of the things that has veered across the line of amazing and then into like, I that might have been a lot back and forth. And that's like the thing that we've all tried to figure out and navigate. There's a lot of just like sitting in the kitchen and being at the counter and like talking, talking talking and her sharing stories and asking us questions. And I don't know where she got this because there was absolutely no one in her life keeping her safe her life was hard and had a lot more danger for sure. And she on her own insides found this thing of like whatever girls are listening to me, I'm going to tell them, no one ever gets to make you feel uncomfortable. Ever. If any man ever is doing something, even if it's fine. You don't need to be in danger to say I don't like that. But her whole thing is like you always get to say I don't like this. This is making me uncomfortable. And what she didn't know is that there's now social science behind the idea that a child who is able to out loud say “no thank you.” Who's out loud able to say “I don't like that. I don't know. I think I should ask my mom” and knows the name of their body parts all their body parts is like considerably less likely to experience sexual abuse. Because that means that they can tell the story. Like a lot of these dark things that happen happen in secret. And it typically in a child's life and in a young woman's life is generally someone they know mine was a complete stranger and maybe we'll get into that story at another time. Probably when we go to mental health, but mine is a little bit more random in that way and then also in my own experience, there was a lot of like using No, thank you. Absolutely not-yelling, calling for help and really getting to use my own voice. And I was able to escape some of the larger forms of threat in that same exact way


Jessica:

Yours is very much a bad guy story in the way that Eloise imagines because for her it's harder to wrap her mind around a close person in our life. That's more shocking, right? Whereas the kind of illicit I don't know imaginative way of seeing the bad guy story is you're out and a bad guy comes to you and tries to harm you. And without telling your whole story yours was more like that. So when I went to her, and was like, actually my friend did have a bad guy experience. And so I was wrong. That does happen. I knew it happened, but it's like the feeling that I don't want -I wish it would never happen to her so I almost don't want her to have to think about it. But I did go to her and I said it did happen there was a bad guy who came to my friend and tried to harm her. And I told her that using your voice and then be very confident and we even practiced like what does it look like to walk and be really confident and she like did it shoulders back for her and what does it look like to walk and be like sort of shy and sort of careful and like letting them in so she put like the head down you know? But I think all of that for her it was play but I had you in my mind of like if she can be prepared before safety, it reduces the chance or sorry before danger, itt reduces the chance of danger happening later.


Layne:

Yeah, I mean, honestly, like that kind of embodiment practice where she's standing like that. She's looking around and someone comes up to her and says, Hey, your mom told me to come and she's like, I don't think so. That's not what my mom says. He's like, what's your name? And she's like, I don't actually know you. I think I'm gonna wait for my mom before I tell you that that person is gone. Like that's not the trial to kidnap or to harm like that play is like the actual practice of someone who is standing in a more safe place and less likely. To the other area is keeping these things out of the secret and out of the dark. Because that too, like that's always where I think I've just already said this, but like, That's always where that kind of stuff happens. And so a child who like knows the name of their body and knows how to say like, this is where things are in my house. This is how my family functions. No, we don't do that. No I don't play secret games. My mom told me that I can always tell her anything. That's actually not true. Or, like that helps with there's an element of shadow and shame involved in kind of, and that's where things get murky. And that's where things can go on for a long time when someone has already been scary. There can be a little bit of a testing of the waters the child doesn't know what to do. And they know something weird happened and they feel like they were asked to keep it a secret and it did feel weird to them. And yeah, so they kind of do.


Jessica:

Yeah, that makes sense. That some I've heard from friends who this happened to that something happened to when they were young, and they start to feel like it was their fault. So then they don't want to tell because they caused it.


Layne:

I feel like the random stranger who attacked me was my fault. It took a long time in therapy as the 23 years to be like, why do I still feel like I'm the bad thing? It's crazy i and I'm not a psychologist in a way that I can explain why that's there but that's the fact of it is that there's this like shame and guilt on the side of people who have been victimized Yeah, it's yeah, pretty wild.


Jessica;

Do you do you get on board with? Well, okay, like when my kids are younger, were young Eloise when she was little. I didn't really know what I was supposed to do. But I started telling her like, Hey, Mommy and Daddy, we wipe your booties, we help you. Nobody else touches this spot. You touch this spot, but nobody else does. Is that like, should I be doing that? Or is that a conversation? You know because my mind goes to what if a leader or somebody else tries to I don't want to introduce that idea when there's so little, but I also want to kind of help guard from it if something.


Layne:

For me, I try to keep conversations about genitals in the important and clean. Like those are kind of the words that I end up using because I'm a preschool teacher and I’ve had to wipe a lot of butts. As a preschool teacher it's kind of hard to change a little boy diaper sometimes when there's like poop everywhere. You want to get in there because you can't leave the poop. Yes. So I try to and this is kind of this is a good part of the like, keeping it out of the shadows in the dark of the shades space is being able to like calmly talk about, like all of your body parts being able to name them. With their real names. But you can also have cute other names for them.


Jessica:

Yeah, but my kids know what it's called. They know both but they call them the fun names.


Layne:

Yeah, and then this comes up kind of a lot in like exploratory play in preschool where I have to be like, okay, cool. No problem. Can you hang out over there for a second? I'm gonna chat with your friend. This part of your body is super important. You need it for a lot of things. Also, it's open. And so it's like a place that we have to keep it covered. And that's why it’s really important to be really clean. Okay? So we're not going to let our friends who have germs that you don't know don't belong there for like nobody else. There really isn't anybody except for like the safe grownups who keep you clean. I need you to help me with this like really important part of your body. I need you to help me keep it clean.


Jessica:

Keep it safe. Keep it clean.


Layne:

Yeah, cuz it get it's really tricky to find words for because almost everything ends up with a with a secret tone. Like this belongs only to you. It's very private. \


Jessica;

We take on kind of like everyone has, but somehow mines a secret.


Layne:

Right, which makes it this kind of weird thing. And I do think that we do it more with people who have vaginas then people who have penises some of that is anatomical one of them instead of one of them on the outside. But a lot of is a societal problem with vaginas . It's not a swear. It's a vagina. So helping children feel confident about their bodies and helping little girls feel like their experience is as valuable as anyone elses. They do not have a greater emotional capacity than little boys. It is not their job to help you out with a little boy. It's good and it's not their job to say sorry just because they can. They don't have to do that. I do my best to help little girls circle back when something happened that they didn't like and express what their voice say, I didn't like it when you…. If they can say it made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel something that sounds like my feeling is a valid part of this conversation. Then you're just building people who are like, actually honestly, like much more unbreakable in lots of ways in life like right benefits them and makes them less of a person to be preyed upon in a lot of ways gets those shoulders back and walking forward, eyes moving around clarity, the ability to use their voice and and have life go the way that they would like and not the way that someone else would like


Jessica:

And to have healthier relationships in general. I think a lot of us as grown women don't feel like we have permission to take up space even in our own relationships or marriages. I have friends who have expressed even recently, like, oh, I would say that but I think my husband would be upset that I feel that and I'm like, oh how interesting of a dynamic to have where we're not able to just say what is going on and express it. I don't know. If you could start young and raise somebody up who feels comfortable in their own body being able to say, Hey, I didn't like that, that, that rubbed me wrong. That felt bad. I don't want that to happen. What a confident woman she could grow up to be and I love that I also appreciated in our in our conversation pre podcast, when we were talking about all this you said, Now you feel much more confident to cross the street and walk on the different side of the street if somebody you're about to walk next to doesn't make you feel right inside. And I that resonated with me so much because I did what you did, which is just assume…


Layne:

I was worried that I was going to hurt that person who I feel scared about. Their feelings.


Jessica:

You carry so much of this like, oh, I have to tread lightly and carefully and like accommodate everyone, right? But I told Eloise I was like if you're ever walking and you see someone, it's not being mean to walk on the other side of the street if for whatever reason you're walking and it makes you feel nervous. You go, that's fine.I think that was that's really it's like so obvious, and yet also, I haven't done it.


Layne:

Which I do also want to acknowledge as like to white ladies that there is a cognitive bias that often people will like white women particularly will just arbitrarily cross the street when they see a person of color approaching them and I want to like flag that as well. But when you like feel that feeling of danger. I don't want little girls to override a feeling of danger. I want to like, additionally address this other thing on the other side. But the thing inside my own gut that is like I don't like the way this is feeling. I'm gonna I'm gonna value my experience in this moment or whatever what I imagined the stranger I'm not interacting with but I will say


Jessica:

That thing that you just said is almost like why wouldn't I, Oh, I can't cross the street because even though I feel nervous, who is this offending? And so now I no longer suppress that voice that says we don't know this person. There's no need to walk right next to them. Doesn't matter. Like nothing else matters. We're just respectfully protecting ourselves. And I think that I had never considered it until you said it. And now I'm much more aware of like, it's just safety and teach your girls safety. And that's beyond you know what I'm saying?


Layne:

Yeah. The listening to yourself. That choosing not to override the intuition on behalf of somebody else's feelings totally. And I appreciate that. This is feeling super complex, because it's super complex. Like, the world is complicated as a human. It’s very complicated as a woman. It's very complicated as the parent of small children who are vulnerable and are going to experience life in very different ways from each other.


Jessica:

Yes. Totally. You have taught me a lot. I’m glad we could be on this thing together.


Layne:

Yeah. Thanks for being with me in that it felt tender and feels good to talk about.


Jessica:

What if that's the question for the day. What if the question is what I just asked you about about Eloise.


Layne:

I think ending it with Eloise’s question is good for today. And I will put a little trigger warning in the show notes for this show. Just saying like, we're going to talk about this kind of thing. And if you want to skip it, no one's mad at you. And you're allowed.


Jessica:

Yeah, you might not be the stage yet where this applies, but at some point, you may care about this. You should probably also put a humor warning because you were very funny.

I think that this is this is a beautiful piece of what I want to be doing with you- is having the conversations that are really complex and hard and heavy and light and funny and all because maybe because that's what my mind is honestly because I go through my days and I'm like, wow, some of this stuff that we face is so big and scary. And then some of it's so light and funny and how the heck do you navigate all of that? And that's what we can help offer is how we're doing it and what we know about this.


Layne:

Yeah, it's a pleasure being here. And if these are things that you have, or haven't talked about, or have treated these things differently, I just want to say like nothing that we say here is meant to come on you the listener as like, this is how you should have done it. Sorry. You blew it. Never. You always get to adjust and iterate and practice. That's right. And you're a really good parent. You're really doing this.


Jessica:

Yeah, amazing. Amazing. And if there's a need, like you mentioned at one point, you went to therapy for some stuff that's happened to you and it took that to realize what you're carrying. Do that if you are listening to this and you see yourself in the story, and it's not a role that you wanted to have and it was never meant to be yours and now you're carrying shame and pain and fear therapy.


Layne:

Yeah, also, I'm @enquiryco on Instagram, also in the show notes, and I would be super happy to chat about it.


Jessica:

Yeah, awesome. Awesome.So follow us on Instagram. If you want to connect. Join our online community, Very Good Mothers Club, and we will see you or you will hear from us. We will see you or you will hear our voices in a week ish.



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