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.
What if we all took time out of each day to be silly? How would that affect the way we interacted with others? Would it bring more joy to our conversations? Would others find you more lighthearted? I have been thinking about how hard most of us work, and how little we play. What if in 2013 we all focused on being sillier?
I am going to try it. I feel I have almost perfected my silliness with Chris. I can tickle like the best of them, and I do all that I can to try and make him laugh. Much of the time I do that by being silly. Dancing, tickling, saying odd things, and last but not least being downright silly! If I get a laugh, then I have succeeded. (Of course, I love to succeed and win!)
I often think of silliness as a similar action as playfulness. I ebb and flow with my playfulness abilities. It depends on my circumstances. If I am surrounded by little children I get down on their level, whether squatting down to talk to them at their eye level, or to get down and sit and play with them. That is when I am most playful and silly (oh yes, and when I am silly around Chris). Yet, there are so many times when I could be more silly. Times when I could relax more, or not care about an outcome of a situation. My silliness that is buried like the moth balls in a closet, needs to be pulled out of hibernation and aired out.
Sometimes it gets aired out when I am in a grumpy mood, and something or someone spurs the silliness in me and my playful side comes out and my grumpy-self releases to a joy-filled, positive state. Silliness = positive mood. When we are silly we forget all the other crap happening around us. We let go of our frustrations and are present. Silliness = being in the now.
So as we get older, why is it seemingly so hard to be silly? Maybe that is not the right question to ask. What if the question had more to do with how do we stay more present in our lives, and live more in the now? The answer could very well be, bring more silliness into your life. What do you think? Does silliness come easily to you?