I continue to be astonished at the impact my simply being employed by the YMCA has on my life and the lives of my children.
Recently, all employees were assigned an online training course through Redwoods on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse prevention. I procrastinated, as it was a subject I was loathe to think about, especially as the mother of two school-aged girls. A few days ago at our weekly Director’s meeting, the subject was broached again – this time with a deadline. I took a deep breath and decided to forge ahead that very afternoon. Unsure of what I’d be dealing with or how intensive the training might be, I chose to take the course at home, away from interruption.
The training was not nearly as harrowing as I had anticipated, and it helped to open my eyes a bit to small, simple things that I could observe throughout the day in our facility and programs. I felt far more educated on the subject, and much better equipped to handle any abuse situations that may arise.
Just as I was finishing the post-test, my 10-year-old daughter walked in and asked what kind of work I had been doing. I explained that I had been learning about how to keep kids safe from other kids and adults who may want to hurt them. We then proceeded, much to my surprise and completely out of the blue, to have an in-depth conversation on the subject. Unscripted and spontaneous, my daughter and I covered topics I had been dreading. I went back through to certain parts of the training to ask her opinions on the ‘uneven power dynamic’ section, and learned a lot about her. I was so proud of my firstborn – we were able to discuss scenarios and appropriate behavior in a safe, trusting environment. Accessing the ‘appropriate vs. inappropriate touch’ scale was extremely useful; she and I were able to share our opinions on what was okay and what was not. I was amazed at her insights, and I was able to teach her a few things as well. All in all, it was an amazing, enlightening experience, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity.
Had it not been for a simple directive to take a training, the conversation would not have existed in that incarnation. I am grateful to Redwoods for having put together such a wonderful training, and I am grateful to the Y for giving me the opportunity to participate. My gratitude, however, is strongest for the Living Our Cause initiative: without it, I would not have the knowledge or the ability to use the simplest, most effective tool of parenting – Conversation.
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA