Is Time Up for Grace? 3 Secrets for Learning a New Language

The woman who calls herself Grace, and who accused Golden Globe winner, Aziz Ansari, spoke of the sexual encounter with the celebrity as “unpleasant,” and wasn’t sure if he ignored her non-verbals or did not understand her non-verbal discomfort. We don’t know what her intent might have been to have a date with the famous celeb; was it to talk camera equipment? We don’t know if when she removed her own hand that he had placed on himself, if he understood that it was perhaps her signal to him of “game over.” #MeToo

We just don’t know.

Nor should it matter what we know.

What should matter to all of us is whether or not we are doing our jobs to help our daughters and sons to learn to speak a language, that apparently in 2018, has not yet been identified. Yet, we’re getting close. Perhaps if both parties had a strong understanding of the Myers Briggs personality assessment, there would be less grey area in their mutual perspectives (if you’re looking to better understand your own personality preferences, click here for our free Myers Briggs training).

That new language is Grace, specifically, the Accountability of Grace. The language of Grace is born out of the centuries of speaking. And it is up to us to speak grace with integrity, honesty, and accountability. For the sake of our children, starting right now. Today.

Ask any parent: What is one of the first words that their child learned to say? They usually answer, “No.”

No is fairly straightforward; black and white, and has rolled off the sticky tongues of almost every toddler we’ve ever encountered. No in a sexual encounter often means pulling someone’s unwanted hand away. So why, as they develop and grow, does “no” become a tangled mess of gray innuendo, flawed and nuanced assumptions, and nebulous intention?

Perhaps because our parental and societal responsibilities do not include teaching grace, accountability, and integrity.

Recently, Megan, a 29-year-old new hire and energetic Physician’s Assistant was excited about her awesome dream job. On her third day on the job, she is called into the doctor’s office to discuss the upcoming patients with her boss. Seated in his lab coat behind the desk, he directs her to close the door. He stands, and he’s nude from the waist down. She says, “Not okay. Ever.” Leaves. Goes to HR to report him and quits her job within the same half hour.

Sadly, there are many Megan’s and Grace’s out here. There are famous examples and there are not-at-all famous situations where the language of grace, accountability, and integrity are not spoken. Another language instead, has been passed along generation after generation—the language of male and female sexual distinction.

Both males and females have been raised in a culture where societal expectations are reinforced: many women are called upon to be people-pleasers. If a woman wears a tight, low-cut top to accent her surgery-enhanced breasts, what is her intention? Is it to just to show pride with her size GG chest, or is it to attract the gaze of men and/or women? Or is it to attract only the one person that she has yet to meet?

Unfortunately, our culture is a judgmental where skimpy tight clothing seems like an invitation for a gaping free-for-all. The message is implicit, and therein lies our cultural snafu. For decades, we’ve been conditioned that sex sells. Especially female sex. Male and female alike, have been subliminally and overtly inundated with sexual beliefs that objectify women and captivate men.

As relationship consultants who have 3 daughters and 2 sons, we propose continuing the dialogue at home. At the kitchen table.

Several years ago, when one of Poppy’s high school daughters was on her way out the door to school, Poppy stopped her and said, “Pick up your backpack.” The daughter balked and said, “What! Why?” Her mother repeated it, and as the sophomore bent over, skin showed between her low hanging flared corduroy pants and her sweater. “Go upstairs and change. Now.” Poppy said. Through exasperated protests, she trudged upstairs. Today, in the professional workplace, this daughter remembers this episode with vivid clarity. “It was a defining moment more than ten years ago and reinforces my appropriate clothing choices in the workplace.”

It is the parental job to disseminate the expected norms and values to which they want their children to also embrace. We ask that you create and commit the time for an hour every week, solely to talk about the high value the family places on integrity, accountability, and grace of all humanity. Talk about ways in which self-respect, self-confidence and self-trust are cultivated. Controversial for sure, (especially with a mixed generation at the table), but a heart-healthy discussion needs to happen if we are to inspire our children to value, respect, trust and honor themselves and others.

From the kitchen table: 3 ways to begin to empower our families:

1) Make integrity accountability an absolute #1 priority. This is to hold ourselves accountable for all of our thoughts and behavior, as well as others. Teach this to our children. Have the dinner table conversation, the lazy Sunday afternoon discussion gathering where we speak of inequity to both our sons and daughters.

2) Practice the scenario. We give actual scripts to clients. What happens when you have this awesome dream job like Megan? We help people embrace their integrity; hold it up high in the #1 spot, no matter if it means losing your job. Adam, a former Psychology of Marketing student, had his dream job of working at Pixar. He didn’t know how the interview would go, so we role played in the classroom. He came back and said: “Oh my God, the interview with the VP went EXACTLY as we practiced. It was so easy and comfortable to know how to really communicate.” Adam has been at Pixar now, 7 years. Practice the scripts to the tough and scary encounters.

3) Reframe your mindset that to hold someone accountable is a gift to you and the other person. The reframe for Megan was “I do not want to work for a person or business where this kind of behavior is acceptable. I want to work with people who have integrity.” Reframing allows us the opportunity to become our best selves. If they are pervy or creepy and finally get nailed, there is a possibility for retribution. And that is a good thing because as a western culture, we are a very forgiving nation. Second chances are almost always given, especially when remorsefulness is on the table. The Harvey Weinstein’s have the option to seek help. To ask for forgiveness. To change their behavior. To scrutinize their need for dominance for using sex as a way to that end. And to make a choice to be the best version of him or herself.

In 2006, Linguistic Society of America, author, Ray Jackendoff, wrote: “Every human language has a vocabulary of tens of thousands of words, built up from several dozen speech sounds. What is still more remarkable is that every normal child learns the whole system from hearing others use it.”

From the kitchen table and our own behavior, let us teach our children the language of grace.

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