A lesson all parents can learn from Taylor Swift’s mom
Honoree Taylor Swift (L) accepts the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award from Andrea Swift onstage during the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp)
When I worked in a bar during my college years, it wasn’t uncommon for inebriated imbeciles to grope my rear, or comment on my cleavage as I tried to wiggle past their overly-crowded tables to place their orders.
I would smile politely and do my best to keep my physical distance, but rarely would I report their crude behaviour. If I did mention a grab to the floor manager, it was brushed off with comments like, “boys will be boys,” or “that’s just part of the job,” or “just go with it, maybe they’ll give you a bigger tip.”
I was swayed to believe that I was overreacting - to suck it up and to just keep doing my job with a smile on my face - and like many women, I did just that.
In 2013, Taylor Swift was caught off guard when a handsy DJ groped her rear during a post-concert meet and greet. When she reported the incident to authorities, the DJ countersued for $3 million, claiming that he had been unjustly fired from his job due to the highly-public accusation.
Thankfully, Swift didn’t stop until justice was served.
The four-year-long ordeal closed with Swift receiving a symbolic $1 in damages from the DJ, which she said was meant to be "an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts."
While Swift’s powerful statements and unwavering pursuit of justice were more than commendable, it was a comment made by her mother during the trial that resonated most with me as a mom of two daughters.
During the trial, Andrea Swift told jurors of her daughter: “She couldn’t believe that after the incident, she thanked him for being there. She said ‘Thank you.’ It was destroying her. It made me question why, as a parent, I had encouraged her to be so polite.”
And there it was. For generations, girls have been groomed to be prim and proper young ladies. To be polite in all circumstances, and to always wear a smile.
Swift’s mom questioned her decision to focus so much of her parenting on politeness, and so should we.
Manners should be mandatory, but we shouldn’t just teach our kids how to be constantly cordial. We also need to focus on teaching them about confidence and consent, that it’s ok to say “No” and that if our children are not being respected, they do not owe respect in return.
It’s one thing to teach our kids to be polite, but we can’t let them become pushovers in the process.