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Friday, June 26, 2020

Talking With People (Yes, Even Kids!) About Consent

Especially as someone who has been through abuse, consent is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As a parent of children, it is very important to me to teach my children about consent, both regarding being on the receiving end and on the giving end. My friend Zoe wrote this post explaining more about consent and about how to teach it to kids especially. I hope you find it as invaluable as I did.



I hate the tea analogy. You know the one-where someone says, “yes, I’d like some tea” and then the narrator explains that, “I don’t want it shoved down my throat every time I see you” should go without saying? Well, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes. But the gist of it is essentially that drinking tea once doesn’t mean someone likes all types of tea, that he/she has to drink it once someone puts it in a cup for him/her, that he/she should be forced to drink tea unconscious, etc.

I hate it. I mean, I’m happy that it clarifies so much, but I also think it’s only part of the conversation we need to have about consent.


So, maybe I don’t wholeheartedly hate it, but I do want to tell you about the Consent Castle.
The Consent Castle talks about long term relationships and how to navigate old and new territory, because surely we don’t all always want the partners we’ve been committed to for years to ask every single time they want to touch us. If you do, that’s totally fine - just keep communicating that to your partner(s)s, but I don’t think it’s the case for everyone all the time.

And I think it’s great.

But more than that, I want to talk about a myth.
It’s a big one, and it’s one which really, really bothers me.
Are you ready?
Here it is:

Kids can’t understand consent.

WHATTT?!

I know, you’re probably as shocked as I am that anyone believes that, but some people do.

And next time you meet someone like that I want you to tell them about the time I was watching Danny (6), Emma (4), and Delilah (2.5).

Danny started jumping on his bed, and Emma asked if she could join in, too. He said, “sure” and they jumped for a bit. Delilah asked if she could, too, and he let again, but this time he specified, “but you have to take your shoes off”.
“What about with one leg? Can I hop on your bed, Danny?”, his younger sister asked.
“Jump der?” his younger-younger sister asked with a lisp, while pointing to where he lay his head at night.
“Hmm, let’s move the pillow”, he practically shrieked.
Danny got bored and decided to leave their bedroom, instead opting to play in the living room, but not before Emma checked, “but can I still stay here?”

Later that day, Emma returned to the bedroom and glanced at Danny’s bed. She turned to me and said, “Can I jump on Danny’s bed now, too?” But before I could even answer, she went to ask him.

I tell that story, because these three kids were unprompted, but they just ‘got’ it. They understood that consent has to be given freely, that it can have conditions like not wearing shoes, that it can be revoked at any point, and that it is not always implied the next time.

Consent is not solely about sex.

What tips and tricks do you have for cultivating a respectful culture in your home?
Have your children surprised or impressed you with nuances they understand?

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