How Do I Talk To My Sons About Respecting Women? Tell Me, Chantal!

Singer Chantal Kreviazuk tackles the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and how she’s raising her boys, in the latest instalment of her tough-love advice column for Chatelaine.

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In her new column, Chantal Kreviazuk gives advice on what to do about a boring marriageQ: The Harvey Weinstein scandal has me thinking a lot about how I am raising my boys. I expect them to treat girls with respect, but I’m realizing we don’t really explicitly talk about it. How do you approach this with your kids? 

Well, I have three boys, ages 13, 12 and nine. I can tell you that while they are all profoundly different (it continues to baffle me that they’re actually all my children), when I step up on my soapbox and try to tell them how to be, they all give me about 10 to 15 seconds of their actual attention and then it’s over. In their ears, I am now in lecturing mode and it’s completely ineffectual.

So I’m a big believer in the theory that modelling behaviour — what we do — has the greatest impact on our children, whether they are girls or boys.

Tell Me, Chantal: I’m Dead Bored In My Marriage. What Should I Do?
Tell Me, Chantal: I’m Dead Bored In My Marriage. What Should I Do?

It’s important to remember that, through our own relationships, we are continually modelling what a partnership looks like to our kids — what respecting another person, male or female, looks like. We might think the moments when we talk to our kids explicitly about a certain event or headline are the real “teachable moments,” but they’ve been watching you all along. If the message you’re delivering in those moments doesn’t match what they’ve spent years absorbing through just being around you, they’re not going to buy it.

So, when it comes time to talk about relationships and respect with your kids, take a look in the mirror. We are all always developing, and a huge part of that is recognizing that we’re all healing from all our childhood wounds.

Raine and I try to approach our relationship through that lens every day, as a result of much thought and work with a marriage coach. We’ve been using some of the strategies we’ve learned to navigate our adult lives and create a nurturing, healthy, respectful environment, aware of what each other’s suffering has been and conscious of the other person’s pitfalls and triggers.

We do this believing that it will lead our sons to understand what a loving relationship looks like — that they will witness and absorb that their father has respect for me and for all women in general, and that in all relationships, everyone is coming from the perspective of their own story.

In other words: I believe exposing boys, at every opportunity, to men who have turned up their emotional volume and have “done the work” is one of our biggest hopes for ending cycles of misogyny and abuse.

My boys know that I am a fierce woman, feminist and humanitarian. They know that their father will work towards upholding justice at any possible opportunity. Being a good citizen is huge in my book. One of my sons did a trip with the Starkey hearing foundation, where he trained to become an audiology technician. Then he got to help fit people with hearing aids — at 13, he’s had the experience of giving people the gift of hearing. Giving kids a balanced diet of values that includes service in their communities, as well as nurturing their own dreams and ambitions, plays a huge part in teaching them that each of us is no more special than anyone else. As parents, we try really hard to seek these opportunities out.

I also believe in lots of hugs and forgiveness … and trying really hard to be a light for them.

Chantal Kreviazuk is an award-winning singer songwriter. She is married to Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida. They have three kids. 

Got a question for Chantal? E-mail us at letters@chatelaine.com