friendship

"Having a 6-year-old take you on a date is all kinds of wrong."

It’s the Facebook post that has had almost three million likes and sparked massive online debate.

Nikkole Paulun, former star of reality series 16 & Pregnant, recently revealed that her six-year-old son Lyle takes her out on a dinner date once a month.

“He opens doors for me, pulls out my chair, talks about his day & asks me how mine was, pays the bill with money he earned by doing chores, and even tips the waiter/waitress,” she wrote. “By doing this I am teaching him how to treat a lady & how to take her on a proper date. How to show that he respects the woman he loves (right now that would be mommy). We put our phone and iPad away (except to take this photo) and sit and talk to each other about our days, things we want to do, etc.”

Nikkole, her son Lyle and baby daughter Ellie. Photo via Facebook.

Paulun says she's teaching her son proper table manners, as well as the value of money and how to manage it. 

"It's never too early to teach your child how to properly respect others, especially women. As a woman who has been abused & treated like crap in the past, it's extremely important to me that I teach my son how to show respect. Too many men these days have no idea how to treat women or how to take them on a nice date. It's nice to know my son won't be one of them."

Some people have praised the idea.

"This is a beautiful thing this mother is doing with her son," wrote one reader. "I hope to teach my 2yr to be a little gentleman as well!"

"I hope that one day, when my five year old daughter grows up, she will meet a man like Lyle to treat her exactly as she should be treated!" wrote another. "You are doing a great job!"

Personally, I think this is all kinds of wrong.

Sure, having one-on-one time with a kid is great. But it shouldn't take a once-a-month special occasion for a mum and a six-year-old to put down their phone and iPad and talk to each other.

Nikkole, her son Lyle and baby daughter Ellie. Photo via Facebook.
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Sure, teaching respect for other people is great. But that's something kids pick up from parents naturally, if those parents are considerate people who treat others well.

What disturbs me most about this is that Paulun has such a muddle-headed idea about what respect for women involves, and is so determined to pass it on to her son.

Opening doors for women and pulling out their chairs are nothing but quaint, old-fashioned customs.

Paying for a woman on a date is based on the assumption that the woman has less money than the man. She doesn't work, or she's in a low-paying job. Either way, she needs a man to look after her. It sets up an unequal relationship.

None of these things shows any true respect for a woman. Real respect runs deeper. Real respect is based on treating other people as equals. It's about accepting people for who they are, and not trying to make them conform to your ideals.

Here's a video of Nikkole with Lyle when he was a baby. Post continues after video...

Video via Nikkole Paulun

I am sorry that Paulun has been abused and treated like crap in the past. But I think she needs to rethink what's important in a relationship. It's not about the superficial stuff. It's not about how someone behaves on the two hours of a dinner date.

Who says the man who pays for your dinner isn't going to try to pressure you into sex afterwards because he feels you owe him something? Or expect you to do the bulk of the housework when you move in together?

As for the idea of getting a six-year-old to act like an adult on a date, that's just a bit creepy. When Paulun says she's teaching Lyle "how to show that he respects the woman he loves (right now that would be mommy)", alarm bells go off. You're his mother, not his girlfriend. There is a difference.

I take my five-year-old son out to coffee shops sometimes. We sit and talk and eat toast. I do it because we both like it, not because I'm training him to be someone's boyfriend.

I hope my son grows up to be funny and interesting and thoughtful and kind and generous. I hope he treats everyone with respect, not just the woman - or man - he loves.

What do you think of the idea of a six-year-old taking his mother out on a date?

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