In years gone by, parents could put off talking about sex with their children because sexual images and innuendos were not all around them. As television and magazine marketing developed, sexually charged images and commercials started to become the norm. Today, the Internet surrounds kids with sexual images and suggestions all day long. Good parenting means helping put all of the sexual images into context for kids and helping kids to understand right from wrong.
One of the problems with sexually charged television shows and Internet websites, especially when it comes to raising boys, is trying to help children understand the importance and process of mutual consent. Teaching children respect for others and, when you are raising boys, it is also important to teach children the importance of consent when it comes to sex.
Small children, no matter what the gender, like to hug people. While hugging immediate relatives is always acceptable, hugging friends and strangers can become a problem. Instead of allowing your child to hug people, you should suggest that your child ask if it is okay to give out a hug. If the potential recipient accepts the offer, then you can allow the hug to happen.
But it is equally as important to get your child to understand that if someone does not consent to a hug, then it is not acceptable to give the hug anyway.
Help Your Child Handle Rejection
A child will get more persistent about something if they are initially rejected, and that includes what looks like an innocent hug or kiss. If someone does not want a hug or kiss from your child, then it is up to you to step in and help your child to understand that it is not the end of the world. Pleasantly thank the person for their candor and the let your child watch as you calmly walk away from that person.
Children should not be encouraged to be persistent about something they want when consent is involved. Wanting a toy for Christmas is one thing, but persisting in giving little Sally a cute kiss when she does not want it is something very different.
Talk to Your Child About Permission
Many parents do not understand just how powerful their words are to their children, even small children who can barely understand what the parent is saying. It is important that parents constantly talk to their children about respect for others and asking permission for contact to get children to understand the importance of consent.
Talking to your children is important for many topics and reasons. When children constantly hear the same information from their parents, it becomes a narrative in their minds that helps them to make decisions as they get older. By giving your children good advice on mutual consent, you are establishing a foundation for good behavior as they grow up.
Good parenting means spending time with your children and answering their questions. It also means showing them how to respect others in many important and different ways. Raising boys can be a challenge, but you can help those boys to grow into good men by instilling them with the idea that mutual consent is necessary and important. When your children are raised to have respect for others, they will find it easier to navigate through life and handle difficult situations.
Brian Kent is a partner at Laffey, Bucci, Kent and a sponsor of the site AbuseGuardian.com. He graduated with a law degree from Philadelphia’s Temple University, and served as a criminal prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Unit of Montgomery County’s District Attorney’s Office.