Teaching About Consent

feb 2

I shared a blog post on my Facebook Timeline that was written by someone else just  before Christmas titled “Reminder: she doesn’t owe anyone a hug.  Not even at the holidays.”  We were just coming up on the steady stream of family get-togethers and I was reminiscing on family get-togethers of my childhood.  I was a hugging kind of child and didn’t think twice about hugging family.  I’m a different person now.

Sure, Baby K is too young to think about this himself.  Right now the only way we’d see Baby K think about this is if someone picks him up and he starts to cry and maybe reaches for someone he recognizes.  I don’t say “no” to anyone we know holding him at this age, but I am ready to take him back when he gets upset.

When I shared that article that I linked above.  I got the question of “When did hugs become a bad thing?”  They’re not, I’m not saying they are at all.  I could only theorize that the person who asked didn’t even read the article because they would’ve understood had they read it.  Personally speaking, I don’t ask for hugs from the little kids in my family.  I know some of them don’t know me well and I hope to save them from some embarrassment of wanting to say “no” to giving me a hug.

I also think this applies to more than just giving other hugs during family get-togethers.  We are trying to teach our children that their bodies are their own and they are in charge when it comes to their bodies.  Over the holidays something else made me think about other ways to teach children about consent.  How many of you started see the stream of parents posting their “hilarious” pictures of their children sitting with Santa while crying hysterically?  I never thought much about these pictures before becoming a parent but with my tendency to over think things, once I was standing in the line-up waiting for pictures with Santa I started to wonder.  Were parents making their terrified children sit with Santa against their wills?  Were these terrified children still wanting to sit with Santa because they wanting to tell him what they wanted for Christmas?

I didn’t see any kids having this issue when we were there, at least, not loudly.  I was more worried about whether Baby K would start crying while we were there.  He thankfully did not, and we managed to get a little smile out of him for the picture.  As we were leaving I started thinking about next year though.  Would Baby K be at the age that he starts acting strange with people?  Will he be nervous around people he hasn’t seen before or hasn’t seen much?  Will he cry at the sight of Santa?

On my Facebook Timeline, there are only a couple of pictures of Baby K.  The reasoning for this is because it is my Facebook, not his Facebook.  I’m not saying this because of selfishness, I’m doing it because he didn’t sign up to display his life over the internet.  I sometimes wonder about the parents who post millions of pictures of their children online.  As soon as something is online it basically becomes public property.  Would they have consented to this when they are older?

Another time I think the concept of consent could apply is while tickling another person.  How many times have you continued tickling someone while they begged you through their laughter to stop?  As an adult, I hate being tickled, but it was a common occurence to tickle other people when I was a kid.  I remember being so out of breath from laughter while begging for the tickler to stop.  As a parent, now, all I can think of is that someone was tickling me and ignored me when I asked them to stop, all because it looked like I was having fun.

I’m not a psychologist, so I’m not going to go and say that this is going to break your child for years to come because I really don’t know if any of these situations would harm a child for years to come.  Maybe you agree with me, or maybe you are thinking “wow, you really do over think this stuff.”  I would like to think of these situations as teaching opportunities for my son, and any other children I might have.  To teach him that “no” means “no”.

What do you think?  Have you encountered similar situations that you used/or could use to teach your child about consent?

Until next time!




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