My kids know about the Ray Rice incident so the least I can do is talk openly about it with them.
When news broke that the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely following the release of a video showing him punching his then-fiancée, Janay Rice, my first thought was I didn’t want my sons to watch it.
I quickly woke up from that fantasy. They are 12 and 16 and ESPN is practically a religion in our house. So, rather than shielding my kids from the news, I decided it was time for another teachable moment.
We talked about Ray Rice the first time around, when the NFL only suspended him for two games, and how ridiculous that sad excuse for punishment was.
Our dinner conversation last night revolved around the issue of how fame and money can make things go away. How athletes and celebrities are given special treatment and many times not held to the same responsibilities we are. How the NFL made the wrong decision the first time and it shouldn’t have taken this new video for them to make the right one.
When one of my kids asked why Janay Rice stood up for her husband and dropped charges, my husband and I told him that it’s very common for victims of domestic violence to blame themselves or protect their abuser. Obviously, no one knows everything that transpired that night, but the Ray Rice incident opened the door to talking with my kids about the fact that many abusers threaten to hurt their victims if they try to leave the situation. We talked about how self-worth is more important than money or fame.
On that note, the fact that Ray Rice beat Janay unconscious is also a teachable moment about hero-worship in the sports world. The NFL season has just started and many families go crazy for football. Parents who are sports fans get giddy watching their favorite athletes like kids do — where do kids get it from? Admiring athletes is fine, but parents need to focus less on worshipping sports stars and more on teaching kids to be decent adults.
This won’t be the last time a star athlete does something wrong. It won’t be the last time one has to face harsh consequences.
I didn’t need to ask my kids if they watched the new Ray Rice video. I didn’t have to.
What I had to do was my job as a mother — use this as yet another way to teach them to be good people and ultimately responsible adults.