We get to decide who touches us. We get to decide how we allow others to treat us. We get to decide how we allow others to make us feel. Yet, how we are socialized to respond and react to each of these is remarkably different. Not a single person has the same experience in how we were taught to handle our reaction, or how we handle “consent.”
“Consent: giving permission for something to happen.”
Have you ever thought about how even the littlest of babies have the right to decide (give consent) to whether a stranger touches them? As a parent, are strangers allowed to touch a small baby or do we protect them until they are capable of communicating their consent? What we teach children at an early age matters, because it is the beginning of their education on consent.
Consent in some ways is similar to telling kids there is a Santa, and they believe you, then one day you tell them there is no such thing as Santa. Have we not then taught them a lie? Should they trust us after finding out we have told a fib all those years?
The below video “4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter” really opened my eyes about the topic of consent and shares the following four points:
1. Tickling and Roughhouse Play
2. Contradicting their Feelings
3. Forced Affection
4. Respect your elders
We teach politeness over feeling comfortable. We make kids hug their elders, or individuals they may not feel comfortable around. We tell them that they cannot think or feel how they feel or think. We do not stop tickling them when they ask us to stop. All of these ideas mentioned in the video are ways we continually teach children not to think for themselves and rather do what they are told. Of course, I am not proposing that kids be rude, but we often force them to do things they do not want to do. We need to listen for when they are not comfortable instead of only when they are just grumpy or do not want to participate or interact with others. There is a balance between being a bratty or disrespectful kid and allowing them to make choices that are most comfortable to them.
Eye opening ideas for me. Teach them that their “no” matters. Teach them to trust their instincts. Teach them to have a voice and to know when to give consent.