A teen and “shop talk”, how would you handle this?
My youngest son, who is a senior this year (17/18yo), works at what is basically a mechanic shop, the same company his oldest brother works for (but he doesn’t work in the shop.) In a span of one week, he has come home with a couple of stories of things he has been exposed to in the sexual nature. The first thing was some kind of video/gif/photo of the backside of a man with a cucumber up his rear. Then he had a calendar of women, thankfully not nude, but in “swimsuits” put on/in his tool box. This has been done by the same man, whom he works with the most and I am told is friendly. He even took my son to lunch for his birthday. I know that there’s coarse joking and such there, and these things are probably common in this kind of environment, but it bothers me, especially when he was legally a minor with the first incident.
How would you handle this if it was your child? Would it be no big deal? How would you advise him? Would you do anything as the parent of this high schooler?
A side note, which may make me a little more sensitive to this is my husband’s first exposure to porn, and the beginning of an addiction, was in the shop of his dad’s work place.
Yep, there is probably going to be some “hazing” in an auto shop or similar work environment. Lots of ways to approach this – from Laisse Fare to helicopter mode. Bottom line, you will not always be there and he has to figure out how to handle it on his own – eventually. Guide him with that in mind. If he is planning to go into this area of work for a career, he needs to have a firm understanding of what his stance will be and why – because that stuff isn’t going away. Then give him direction in how to make that stand, whatever it is. All the way up to busting some dude in the nose if he won’t back off. Since it is just this one guy at this point, I would advise him to simply say to the guy “I appreciate you’re efforts to help me fit in, but I would prefer not to be a part of such crude humor or suggestive things. Let’s share hunting stories instead.” It can be done in such a way as not to alienate him from his coworkers. Hopefully, his general good influence will spread. He also needs to know that if negative things start to happen, he needs to contact company personnel if this is a corporate or large franchise type shop. But either way, momma needs to keep separate from the situation. Dad may choose to get involved as long as he doesn’t emasculate the boy in the process. The world is cruel and harsh. Our job is to make our children strong and able to handle this world on their own, be resilient, able to fail without collapse and know where they stand on any subject given they have already answered the big questions in their minds.
It is great that he comes to his parents for wisdom and advice. I agree with the above that it is best to prepare him to deal with difficult things like this so that he is capable of handling what he will surely run into in this broken world. Like the others, I’m a bit concerned about the guy who took him to lunch. Probably he is just inappropriately messing with him, but that doesn’t mean your son shouldn’t be prepared or have a plan if the guy goes out of bounds with him.
There are too many people in this world looking to do evil, so my trust level when it involves protecting kids/young adults is pretty low with people I don’t know extremely well. Your son is at an age where he should firmly tell the other guys that he isn’t entertained with this stuff. They should perceive that he isn’t happy about it in a “don’t push me” sort of way, not a “I don’t know how to deal with this” sort of way. This type of attitude discourages stuff like this if anything does. His demeanor should be “I’m not going to be messed with or bend on this.” Resolute. If someone goes out of bounds with him, he should have a plan (fight/leave) instead of not knowing how to respond.
@Bill (and others), I can’t really say he came to us for advice or wisdom. He rides to and from work with his brother. He told his brother and his brother brought it up to us, with laughter.
He is not the personality to be confrontive (a pleaser), but if any of my boys would stand firm on doing the right thing, it would be him. I know with the cucumber incident, as soon as he realized what he was looking at, he backed off. With the calendar, he just put it back on the guys toolbox.
My boys don’t seem to concerned about it, they see it as “joking”…. but I also saw harassment as “normal” too. I will watch to see if this is just temporary behavior, or if it continues to escalate. If it escalates, I will be putting more pressure on the guys on my end of things (hub/son) to do something. And no matter his age, he is still in high school and a dependent of ours, therefore still under our parenting/authority umbrella. We could make him quit, if we desired. The VP and HR lady (both Christians), know my husband now and have had multiple talks with him.
Not sure exactly how I would handle it. My first response would be for his father to have a “chat” with the man, but that could backfire a number of ways.
Honestly, I think the best thing you could do would be to encourage your son to speak up, and let him know that both you and his father have his back. If he speaks up and it is resolved, then nothing else need be done. If he speaks up and the harassment continues, or worse, intensifies, your son should speak to the employer. I suspect that if the employer got involved, the behavior would probably come to a screeching halt. If that failed. then there is the option of threatening legal action, or just seeking employment elsewhere, or a combination of the two.
I applaud your son for talking to you about this, you must have good communication lines established. I would find out if it really bothers him enough for you to get involved. It would be a good time to talk about “choosing his battles.” The sad truth is most likely he would be ostracized and ridiculed for making a stink about this and his employment with the company could become unbearable. Is it right that this stuff goes on? No. Is it worth taking it to the supervisor? I would let your son decide. We would like to protect and shelter our kids, but at some point we have to trust we have instilled good values which will protect them inwardly from all the garbage they encounter outwardly.