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5 Things Patrick Kane Forces Us to Say to Kids

Photograph by Getty Images

Patrick Kane is beloved in the world of hockey. He is especially beloved in Chicago, where his efforts just contributed to another Stanley cup win for the Blackhawks (their third in six years, yo).

If you go anywhere in Chicago or its suburbs, you are going to see folks aged 7 to 70 sporting the Kane jersey.

But that might change soon. Kane is under investigation in his hometown, Buffalo, N.Y., after allegations he was involved in an incident with a woman in his home. No charges have been filed.

So how do parents deal with the increasing media reports their kids are sure to hear? We can't keep this fem there. Here are five tips to help kids understand:

1. Start the conversation

If you are raising a little sports fan, boy or girl, there is no question that they have heard about the allegations and investigation. Don't stand by and let their peers steer the conversation. Initiate it yourself. Ask what they know and where their information is coming from. Listen first.

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2. Don't blame the victim

Perhaps in instances of rape and sexual abuse, more so than any other crime, it is common to victim shame or blame. A lot of press covering the Kane allegations is already vocal in that regard. Our children will grow up sooner than we know and be exposed to the complex nature of sexual relationships. Technology appears to have made the threshold for exposure to these matters ever younger.

No means no—not "maybe" and not "keep asking and pushing in hopes of getting a different answer." No means no.

Acknowledge for your kids that if someone comes forward with allegations, they are to be taken seriously. If a woman accepts a drink or an invitation home with someone she met that night, it is not an invitation for sex without her consent. Teach your kids—again, both boys and girls—that they always want to be smart, that alcohol use can impair judgment for everyone and that you can't always trust everyone you meet.

3. No means no

This is key. So simple and, yet, it appears to become complicated in matters of rape or sexual abuse. No means no—not "maybe" and not "keep asking and pushing in hopes of getting a different answer." No means no.

4. Innocent until proven guilty

This is a tough one to remember in today's culture of talking heads and the mentality that anyone of note should be tried in the media. Here in America, we have a justice system that, while not perfect, works hard to ensure due process. As of yet, Kane has not been charged with any crime. An investigation has been confirmed, but everything else is speculation. Our kids need to learn how our judicial system works and why the presumption of innocence is important. This one can be especially tricky to manage, given the need to balance empathy and compassion for the accuser with Kane's rights as the accused.

Patrick Kane's situation is a tough one, made tougher by how we exalt our sports stars.

5. Sports stars are people, not gods or heroes

We tend to elevate our sports stars to hero status. Lately, that has been backfiring on us. It is common to hear reports of doping, domestic violence, abuse and cheating from those we allow our kids to worship. There is a difference between doing something really well—like playing a mean game of hockey—and being a hero. A big difference. We need to start stressing to our kids that appreciation is different than admiration and that, just because we appreciate a certain person's skills, they might not necessarily be admirable.

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Patrick Kane's situation is a tough one, made tougher by how we exalt our sports stars. Our kiddos identify and love sports figures just as we do but need a parent's support and guidance when those same sports figures get entangled in very public and icky situations. Don't be afraid to jump in the muck. And never, ever underestimate the impact of the other influencers in our kids' lives.

While these conversations are awkward and unpleasant, part of our parenting gig is helping our kids cope with disappointment.

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