By Danielle Davis

It is a typical dinner party for my husband and me. As dinner is served I look around the table at seats filled by our closest friends, our neighbours, family and amongst these adult faces are my two sons aged fifteen and thirteen.

Some might question why I would insist that these two young boys attend our adult event. Why we didn’t encourage them to go to another room to watch a movie or coordinate a sleep over for the night. The truth is that this moment is one that to us seems, well… normal.

A normal experience it may be, but it is an experience that has the potential to instill in my sons the value of respect, and help shape them into young men I am proud to call mine.

As we all ease into discussion and plates are passed around the table, my children have an opportunity to observe respectful relationships, to see how those in relationships, whether familiar, platonic or romantic, should treat each other. As parents, it is our duty through what we say and what we do to raise children who are valuable members of society, who know the difference between right and wrong, between respect and disrespect.

Danielle Davis is raising two “young men I am proud to call mine”.

This year, the Stop it at the Start campaign has been a timely reminder for all parents of the impact we can have in ending the cycle of violence and disrespect. It’s a national campaign that aims to empower adults to role model respectful behaviours, call out disrespect when they see it, and start a conversation about respect with the young people in their lives.

Whether you’re a mum or dad, a grandparent, a big brother or sister, a teacher, a sporting coach or even a dinner party attendee – the opportunity to positively impact a child’s life by modelling what it means to be a kind and respectful person is monumental, and it can start with a single action or conversation.

Raising and influencing children is no easy feat and I imagine it will only get more complicated as they grow older and begin to form romantic relationships. Thankfully my sons aren’t quite there yet, although my eldest does have a crush.

As we enter this next stage of the parental maze I am conscious of teaching my sons that confidence and kindness is what makes them attractive, not the rhetoric of being mean to those you like. Although both my husband and I are prepared for the day our sons don’t want to discuss the minutiae of their everyday with us, or share their crushes across the dinner table for all to hear, we will ensure the opportunity to discuss this, or anything else, is always a constant in their lives. We will also ensure that conversations about respectful relationships are a constant not altered by age.

The Stop it at the Start campaign has been a timely reminder for all parents of the impact we can have in ending the cycle of violence and disrespect.

As children grow they take in the world around them, and mimic the behaviours that are normalised in their world, which is why I find it is important that they are socialised in a community of respectful and caring adults, like those who surround my sons at this dinner party.

My husband and I are proud of the culture we have created in our house, one of mutual respect and open communication between ourselves and our children. When we have a concern, we discuss it, when we see disrespect, we say something, and I am confident that through doing so we are raising sons who will do the same.