Women of our generation have a responsibility to ensure our sons are brought up differently from their fathers because when they grow up the women of their generation will expect more from them.
This was one of the messages from Jenny Shipley, then a new back bench opposition MP, to a Women In Agriculture day in North Otago.
She was talking to a group of educated country women about ensuring their sons mastered domestic skills, respected women and accepted their right to equality.
Her underlying message, that mothers shape men, has been repeated in a very different context by Celia Lashlie:
. . . It was as I watched her weep and felt her genuine sorrow and grief that I realised, not for the first time, that in some way I had yet to fully understand the mothers of our at-risk children are part of the answer.”
Lashlie is sometimes angry and often cynical in The Power of Mothers: Releasing Our Children. . .
It is the third book by the former prison manager who is now a social commentator and agitator.
It is also her last, she says, because now she just wants to get on with the practicalities of finding ways to effectively help disempowered women – and if you do that, you’ll cut down prison rates for men, she says.
. . . One of Lashlie’s key messages, however, is for the women’s prison service.
As of March this year, 496 women were in prison, compared to 8000 or so men. We should lead the world in how we manage these women, she says, “because it is, by and large, the women in prison who are raising the criminals of the next generation”.
I was brought up knowing my father loved and respected my mother; my brothers and I were taught the same values. We all knew that violence and abuse were neither acceptable nor normal and that shaped our expectations of behaviour in our own lives and relationships.
The experiences of most of the women Lashlie works with is very different from that. Violence and abuse are normal for them.
Until and unless they learn it is not, they can not teach their sons to be the loving, caring, responsible people.
Until and unless they learn that they and the people around them have the right to be safe in their homes and communities they can not teach their sons the values which will keep them from violence and crime.
Mothers shape men but shaping good men doesn’t come naturally to those who haven’t experienced loving, caring homes and relationships themselves.
They need the knowledge, skills and values to shape themselves and their children into loving, caring, law abiding citizens. Prisons where women are a captive audience and away from the malign influences which are normal to them is a good place to start.
Hat Tip: Beatties Book Blog.