Grinding at the homecoming dance

My newly minted high school teenagers just attended their first homecoming dance and complained grinding was the dominant form of dancing (video spoiler alert—parents prepare to be perplexed or horrified). I’m glad to know there are some good suggestions out there of how schools can prohibit grinding and promote equitable relationships among teens. Yet, as a parent, talking to teenagers about grinding is difficult and frustrating.

I do it because I want to them to believe in their own power and know that they deserve respect. But talking about grinding with your mom is gross, awkward, and not appreciated. I want to yell “No, no, no! Those boys do not deserve to touch you in that meaningless way!” or something equally unhelpful. Instead, I say things like, “Grinding treats you like a body part, not a person; and he doesn’t even have to look you in the eye.”

While I can’t protect my children—gone are the days I could literally lift them out of harm’s way—I can have influence. I can ask the school why they don’t have a no grinding policy, instruct the DJ to play a variety of music, ask kids who are grinding to leave (not just momentarily separate them with a beam of a flashlight), and openly talk about the policy at school.

I think the attitude “kids will be kids” is an excuse for parents to avoid the whole issue. Yes, you do have to talk to boys about their power, objectifying girls, curiosity and arousal, and the best ways to build friendship and intimacy. Yes, you do have to talk to girls about all of these same things. Oh, so much easier said than done. But if we are willing to initiate a conversation about grinding then hopefully our kids will continue to talk to us about things that make them uncomfortable.

3 thoughts on “Grinding at the homecoming dance”

  1. Thank you for writing about such an important topic. I have three teenage girls in high school and I am horrified by what is taking place at these dances. Two of my girls were high school cheerleaders and were mandated to attend every high school dance, after attending a dance with my children I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and further more couldn’t believe that the staff were allowing it. When I went to address the issue the response was “this happens at every dance”. I talk to my kids all the time about these important issues and they tell me “this is normal” I encourage them to stand up and change what society has accepted as normal. They state how hard it is because “this is an acceptable behavior”. It’s so important that teens are educated that this is not an acceptable behavior and schools are held responsible in protecting our children and teaching them life skills and setting these examples that this is not okay. Please parents reach out to your children and keep educating them on such an important issue.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful words. You are not alone, we are still struggling with this issue in conversations around our dinner table. I agree with you that parents, and I include myself, have a role to play in encouraging our schools to foster equitable and respectful relationships for our youth.

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