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A teen and "shop talk", how would you handle this?

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SeekingChange
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Re: A teen and "shop talk", how would you handle this?

Post by SeekingChange »

Hey Bill, I think the biggest issue is about protecting my son, and part of this is about how wrong it is that this kind of thing would even have to be faced and dealt with....I guess I expect adults to act like adults around minors.   And just so you and others know, my history is just that, my history.  I didn't consider it traumatic back then and I don't now either.

In reply to your last paragraph.... no, I don't think they are taking it serious enough.  I don't think they have thought beyond the actual incident, to all the ripple effects that could come from it, or the potential danger it could signify.

About 4 years ago, I had another eye opening experience.  Our 15 yo at the time, was having a gal in her early-/mid- 20's, in our church, come on to him, and making comments about going out, kissing, and was flirting with him, Sunday after Sunday.  It made him uncomfortable. Maybe most guys find that flattering.  And as parents who are church leaders, we had to try to figure out how to deal with that.  Our first instinct was just to tell our son how to deal with it, what to say and how to remove himself from the situation.  But then I had to ask my husband.... if this was a 15yo girl who was not our kid, and a 23-25yo male was treating her the same exact way that this female was treating our son, would you and the church leadership be okay with that?  Would we just tell the girl how to "handle the situation" and do or say nothing to the man?  So, why is that okay for our son, because the sexes are reversed?   That reasoning opened my husband's eyes to see the severity of what was taking place, and that the church leadership needed to take action.  Since then, I have had a fire in me around situations like this.

My whole parenthood has been about preparing my kids on how to handle the world.  BUT I think I am getting a little tired of just "handling things" by being reactionary, and that we actually need to start standing up and pushing back against the wrong, in a God-honoring way, of course.
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: A teen and "shop talk", how would you handle this?

Post by Doug »

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.
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Re: A teen and "shop talk", how would you handle this?

Post by Tabitha »

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.

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Re: A teen and "shop talk", how would you handle this?

Post by Duchess »

I grew up in an auto shop. The guys who work there can be some of the nicest guys you ever want to meet, and then turn around and be utterly crude and disgusting all in the same day--the same minute! Having been very familiar with the atmosphere of an auto shop, I would say it is important for your son to adopt an attitude that says, "Hey, I'm ready to be one of the guys, but don't mess with me." They respect young men that are there to do their work and stand up for themselves when razzed--and a certain amount of razzing, teasing, even what some would consider hazing really IS all in good fun. At the same time, when there is someone who is "off", everyone knows it. He should keep his eyes open, watch how others interact with this guy, listen to how they talk to him and how he talks to them, notice whether he is different when the boss is around or not, and if he is just a little cruder than most but has other good qualities (helping others, generosity, pride in workmanship) and people seem to think he "doesn't mean any harm", then just letting him know firmly that the crude humor is not appreciated  but coming back with some cleaner interaction will go a long way toward securing your son a positive work environment. (Use the vernacular, though; someone suggested a very proper Oxford English statement that would have shop guys rolling on the floor laughing at him.) OTOH, if he gets the sense the guy is "off", your son should RECORD AND report everything the guy does to the supervisor or boss and request to work separately. He might lose a little general respect if the guy is one of the sneaky ones, but probably not much if others have picked up on his vibe.  We've had several "off" guys weasel into our shop over the years. Some of them would have been gone a lot sooner if people had only spoken up about the little things. OTOH, we had some guys who were great guys, all except they just seemed to think it was incumbent on them to be filthy. They will do whatever they think bothers you just to get a rise out of you, but they aren't going to hurt you. Finding the balance of getting along with them without compromising your values is like a young soldier sparring with an experienced warrior. It's good for him and teaches him to earn the respect of his peers.  I've seen it. I've seen men who cuss like sailors STOP because another, younger man wouldn't put up with it, and I saw a man who claimed to want a Christian environment lose everybody's respect (and cooperation) because he just complained and tattled about everything.

You have raised your son well. Trust that he will hold fast to his values. But he's probably going to have to get a little "mouthy" to succeed in an auto shop.
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