4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter

I was going to save this for a Round Up, but I just knew I was going to forget it and I am personally a firm believer in this philosophy.

(I am also not responsible for your injuries if you try to tickle me. I can’t stress how much I fucking hate being tickled.)

I’m so interested to know what you think though.

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  • This was so interesting! I really hadn’t thought about these, but mixed messages are one of the more easy-to-avoid parenting issues – consistency is so important with kids! "Because I said so" and "respect your elders" don’t explain anything, or teach anything, I agree. I could never articulate why those expressions bothered me before, but this was excellent. I’m going to watch this a couple more times, and share it with my husband as well. Thank you!!

  • Thank you so much for this. This is something that has been a struggle for me with my extended family and my children.

    I personally hate (honestly, truly, deeply HATE) people in my personal space. It takes me a long time to become comfortable enough even with girlfriends to give hugs, so when I’m in a situation where everyone is hugging everyone else hello and goodbye, I find it terribly uncomfortable – as in physically uncomfortable that leads to a feeling of honest dread as it becomes obvious that I won’t be able to get out of the situation without being forced to be pressed up against someone’s body. And I know it lasts only a second but by the time that second is over, I feel hot and clamy and when it’s someone (usually someone’s mom) who thinks that I just wasn’t hugged enough as a child and adds in a few extra close squeezes to show me just much she cares about me, I feel like running out the door just to be able to catch my breath.

    I usually manage to hide all this really well because growing up we were a very well mannered family and the best behaved children around and I was taught to show respect to older people, to be polite to strangers (so as to not make a bad first impression) and to not be rude to family and friends.

    Now when I look back I can very easily see why I felt obligated to oblige when older boys, including a cousin, wanted to feel inside my panties.

    I know this will not be the case for every child out there but there is no f’ing deity out there in existence, past, present or future who will have the power to get in the way of me making sure that my children will know without the slightest shade of doubt that they and THEY ALONE dictate what happens to their body, that they are allowed to FEEL whatever it is they feel. When my son said that he hated when the babysitter comes over, the same one that he says makes the coolest animal sounds, I simply asked him why he hated that and if he also hates her. You can imagine my relief when it turned out that he only hates it because it means that daddy and mommy won’t be around to tuck him into bed, because she doesn’t do it right – she only turns off the big light when she leaves the room after reading the story instead of before and using just the little bedside lamp to read by. (Phew!!!)

    While I was relieved and glad that he didn’t feel he hated the babysitter herself but I was very careful not to say anything about it being bad to hate something or someone. As he gets older and his vocabulary expands, I’ll focus on using various words to describe different feelings but for now I will not risk removing a word from his vocabulary that could be a tool for him to communicate that something is wrong.

    I am also very careful not to say or do things that show they are obligated to return a show of affection, so in this case I don’t agree with the speaker’s method: just because grandma, auntie, babysitter, etc loves them doesn’t mean that they are obligated to love them back. If they say they hate or have any other negative emotion towards someone, my response is simply "Tell me why." At that moment I don’t give a damn about whether or not grandma/other individual loves them and if I find out that there is a valid reason why my child has this feeling, than that individual will have some very serious explaining to do. So far, at the age of four, I have not encountered the apparent common situation of children making up lies and exaggerating their feelings. I am beginning to think that is something adults tell themselves so they can comfortably dismiss clues children give.

    Am I over reacting? Possible. But rather that than the very polite reaction of all too many parents who want to make sure that all the adults feel comfortable and happy and not be put out by a little child who is completely defenseless against the world ruled by the adults.

  • Excellent points. All valid.

    I think there might be more effective ways of asking the ‘open-ended questions’ to our children than saying, ‘You hate Grandma? I think she really loves you…" or "You’re cold? I’m actually a little warm." Both these options STILL implicitly undermine what the child has stated about her or his own feelings.

    What about asking something like the following?

    "What don’t you like about Grandma?" or "Oh? What made you think of that?"

    "Are your toes cold? Or your maybe nose? What part of you feels cold?" or "Would you like to put on something cozy? Or maybe come snuggle up to me?"

    These examples seem closer to open-ended questions, while the ones in the video seem to indirectly contradict the child’s feelings, which is the opposite of what the parent is intending.

  • I didn’t listen to the whole thing, because the delivery just drove me nuts. So I didn’t really get much out of it, but that might just be me.

  • Great Video!! As a first time mom of a 18 month old, I never thought of these actions before and the mixed messages they are sending. I especially agree with Respecting your Elders. Respect is earned but you should show kindness to everyone. Thanks for posting this.

  • Excellent video. I’m so glad that even though my grandmother got mad about it, my mom never made me kiss her. For more thoughts and advice on respecting your kids feelings and thoughts, the book How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is very, very good. The book Happiest Toddler on the Block takes a lot of those ideas and applies them to toddlers.

  • We really try to consistently do this kinda thing with our boys as well. No means no, stop means stop, and if they don’t want to give anyone a hug or a kiss then they will (usually!!) at least use their manners and greet/farewell/thank with their words.

  • I was JUST thinking about this the other day!
    My 11 month old has a cute little baby tummy that people often poke at and I mean, who, on the entire planet, likes to be repeatedly poked in the stomach or ribs? No one that I know! I kind of got a little mad for him, poor guy.
    And grandma loves loves loves kissing his chubby, mushy face. Which, again I get it, he’s sweet. But she holds his face while she’s planting all these giant wet kisses on him and I start to feel protective. He gives me hugs and kisses when he wants to, usually when we’re playing closely together or snuggling before bed. But with Grandma he doesn’t even have a choice. And again, okay it’s Grandma so it’s not a big deal. But what if one day it is someone who shouldn’t be touching them?
    I think sometimes we forget that they are people too. And that not being able to resist physically isn’t the same as willing consent. Their "no" matters!

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