How to talk to kids about consent

I am already planning for “the Talk” with my boys. I do not relish the idea of watching my son’s face when he realizes that his mother has sex….with his father no less. But, in the wake of the recent ME TOO posts, I continue to be convinced that the next wave of Feminism will depend on male involvement. And as much as I do want to tell my boys about the logistics (okay well not the physical logistics—gross—but the whole “be careful, wear a condom etc etc) more importantly, I want to teach my boys about consent and how to be a decent human when it comes to respecting women.

Thankfully, I have a lot of years to plan for this talk. I can educate myself, and try to figure out the least-weird way to bring this up (spoiler alert- probably isn’t one). I’ll report back when I figure out the details. But for now, I’m just getting myself smart so I can make them smart too.

So far, to distract myself from the helplessness of seeing a news feed full of "me too"s, I've done what I do best: research. I've read a lot of articles looking for suggestions and the below list are some of the best I've found. So, read them yourself, save them for when you think your kids (or you) can handle it. But either way, I think it's worth looking at the following:

  • This fantastic article from a friend of a friend who explains why this ME TOO movement should be a call to arms for men everywhere. It gives some concrete examples of where men--- particularly men who would never assault or harass a women—can help stop the bad actors. This includes how to have uncomfortable conversations with your friends when they start messaging women on tinder "DTF", or when your boss passes over a woman in a hiring decision for sexist reasons. Yeah, those tough moments.

  • This great video I love love love about consent. It’s under 3 minutes and its about drinking tea. Yup. Just tea. The concept of consent is actually that easy to understand. Bonus- I can talk to my boys about consent without talking about sex.

And if you’re up for it, you really can start these discussions now with your toddler. Here’s a great article about what bodily autonomy and consent looks like in toddler play.

These lessons will empower your own children to protect themselves against unwanted contact too. And since it’s on the topic of consent, I have to share one of my favorite articles with some real, actionable advice on how to protect your children from pedophiles. And no surprise, a lot of it has to do with teaching about consent.

So, if you’re feeling helpless or despondent about all of the ME TOO posts out there, start to do something about it by teaching the next generation. Have the uncomfortable conversations now. So that when you get to the real “Talk”, it’ll feel like a walk in the park.


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