R&B singer Chris Brown spoke to Larry King this week about his alleged beating of his former girlfriend, Rihanna, (for which he pleaded guilty to felony assault) and the court’s decision in the case. The quote that jumped out at me when reading about it on CNN is, “No one taught us how to love.” With his “very shocked” mother by his side, Brown said he was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community labor.
The regretful Brown says he is still in love with Rihanna, and when pressed by King to explain the violent altercation, he said, “We’re both young. So nobody taught us how to love one another. Nobody taught us a book on how to control our emotions or our anger.”
This in no way excuses his behavior, but it is a reminder for all of us of two important points. First, we need to be aware of the potential for violence against our daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors. Don’t think it cannot affect your family. A good friend of mine’s sister was murdered by her own husband in 2005, leaving a toddler to grow up without his mother. The close-knit and devastated family was not aware of any violence against her prior to the murder.
Secondly, it is a huge reminder to teach our children what love looks like, and what it doesn’t look like—that control and jealousy are not part of a healthy relationship. Imagine how much education Rihanna and Brown have had in their young lives about singing, dancing, dealing with the paparazzi, staying on top of fashions and how to manage their wealth. Yet he says they had no education about how to love. Don’t teach your kids that talent or education are all that matters. Teach them about how to seek character, kindness and real love. Teach them about the signs of abuse, and look for the signs yourself.
My 6-year-old likes to have pretend weddings with imaginary princes. I like to inquire whey she chose that particular prince; I ask the prince’s name about how he treats her. She keeps the discussion going for a while, not realizing I’m trying to ingrain in her important factors in choosing a spouse.
Unfortunately, even if the choices are done with the best of intentions, violence can still erupt. One woman I interviewed from Michigan dated her boyfriend for three years during college before marrying him. On their honeymoon, he changed abruptly, and regularly abused her physically (only where it wouldn’t show) and sexually. He controlled where she went and even how much she ate. She hid it for nearly two years, embarrassed to tell her family at first, but eventually confided in them. With their support, and law enforcement assistance, she escaped to a battered women’s shelter and eventually built a new life for herself. After helping herself, she also helped others overcome violence and later found a kind and patient man with whom she built a love-filled marriage and family. You won’t be surprised that she teaches her own daughters about violence and about love.
What are you teaching the next generation about love through your words or example?
An interesting article on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls
Learn the Signs of Domestic Violence .