Must Parents Get Enthusiastic Consent From Children?

Consent-MattersI just watched a video from Parenting Gently called 4 Ways Parents Teach Kids That Consent Doesn’t Matter.

Her 4 points are:

#1 Parents sometimes play games with their children in which the children yell/giggle “No” while the parent(s) continue to tickle or rough house with them. Both parties (parent(s) and child(ren)) laugh the whole time and are in agreement that this is a game.

#2 Parents tell children that their feelings are wrong by contradicting what the child tells the parent that they are feeling. For example: the child says that they are hungry after having eaten and the parent says, “No. You’re not hungry. You just ate.”

#3 Parents encourage children to give affection even when the child does not want to. For example: the parent and child are interacting with an adult that the parent cares for and the parent tells the child to give the other adult a hug and a kiss even after the child clearly shows through words and/or behavior that they do not want to.

#4 Parents make it clear to children that they must listen to their elders because they are older and they are in charge. For example: the child runs into the kitchen and an adult the child is unfamiliar with tells the child not to run. The child doesn’t want to listen and responds to the adult drawing the parent into the room. The parent tells the child, “Listen to ______ because they are older and know better. Remember to respect your elders. Now apologize.”

What’s “cute” as toddlers, most people would agree isn’t cute as teens. How will these kids know what is okay and what isn’t okay if we don’t teach them while they are young?

Most of us can imagine scenarios like this in our heads and most of us have struggled with dealing with these situations. Very few things are clearly defined, but for the most part I agree with her list. Her point is that if we don’t teach children that their bodies are their own and they have the right to control them, we’re leaving them open to all kinds of abuse.Parents need to make sure that kids give enthusiastic consent.

According to the National Child Abuse Hotline, “More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.” That means teaching your child to listen to the older person and to suppress what they feel comfortable with in favor of what the elder is telling them to do isn’t doing them any favors.

Please, please please teach your child that their body is their own … even with parents. It’s okay for them to feel uncomfortable. It’s okay for them to say that they feel uncomfortable. It’s expected that the other person with respect their feelings and stop … even when playing. So yes parents …. it’s time to make sure that you have enthusiastic consent for those ticklefests.


3 thoughts on “Must Parents Get Enthusiastic Consent From Children?

  1. I agree with points 1 & 3, but not necessarily with 2 & 4.
    The example in 2 is a poor choice. I find that often, if kids just ate, then they come back with “I’m hungry” it’s not hunger. It’s boredom or wanting attention.
    If a child is disobeying the rules, and another adult, familiar or not, tells him not to disobey, then the child needs to obey. The rules are the rules. If the parent isn’t immediately there to enforce the rules, then other adults should step up. I think this is a big problem with kids and childrearing today. Too many people are afraid of even the slightest disciplinary action – saying “no” or “stop.” If my son is riding his bike ahead of me, and I can’t see him because he’s gone ’round a curve, I hope another adult who sees him, say, take off his helmet, or cross the street without looking will say, “Stop!” because those are dangerous rules to disobey.
    I also don’t see that 2 & 4 necessarily have anything to do with child abuse.
    But that could just be me.

    • I think the article is saying that you give the child the reason is that “so and so” is an adult and thus you should listen is wrong. Instead you should frame it as “so and so asked you to stop running because the rule is we dont run in the house and we respect the rules.” Rules are rules and that is true but teaching a child that they should listen to an adult just because they are an adult I think is what they are advising against. I have interjected a few times on Baby Girls behalf and reframed it as the reason being a rule not because its an adult saying it (out come is the same- rules are rules she has to follow them). I think teaching girls to be able to stand up to authority is important- I wish a few times in my life I had been better at it (i.e. when the Dean of my college implied I some how brought on the sexual advances made by my professor.) Just because someone is in power (i.e. an adult) doesn’t make them right and I think thats what they are trying to instill. Teaching respect of elders comes from going to a nursing home and doing crafts with the residents, or taking the time to listen to a war vet.

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