MINE: Lessons in Consent

MINELisa

“Hey bud, stop touching my boobs.” Response, “Well boys like booboos too. You have to share.”  This conversation is one of countless conversations about touching my breasts, aka booboos.

I breastfed my son until he was two. He stopped the week that he was potty trained, declaring, “I am a big boy. I don’t need booboos.” Later that night, like clockwork, he grabbed one as he drifted to sleep. My boobs have been a source of nourishment and security for him since birth. They have been a safe place for my son to seek comfort.

Someone once told me, “He is too old for that.” I agree. Another person told me, “You just have to tell him to stop.” I agree with that too. The conversations have changed over the past year. For a while it was: You can’t touch mommy’s boobs during the day. Then it was: Booboos are for night-night.  

Untitled (Sharing), 2008, Linocut, Artist Unknown

Untitled (Sharing), Artist Unknown, 2008.

I have also been told, “If you are having conversations like that, then he is definitely too old.” I don’t agree. Having a conversation is exactly what I need to be doing with my son. I want to teach my son the basics in life like respect other people’s bodies and that his body should be respected.

Our night time talks have become a precious, meaningful time to talk about life. The conversations are an opportunity to teach my son about boundaries—this is MY body. These conversations have also grown into opportunities to teach him about consent—you have to ask for permission to touch my body. Also to teach him about stranger danger—no one should touch your body either. These are your private parts. My reminders and boundaries are more frequent now and our conversations continue to evolve. “Son, stop touching my boobs. Here, place your hand on my heart. You can touch my heart anytime.”

Hortense Breast Feeding Paul, Paul Cezanne1872

Hortense Breast Feeding Paul, Paul Cezanne 1872.

These conversations with my son have become even more meaningful as I read recent news related to rape and the lack of accountability to successfully prosecute. It is my hope that I can help raise a child that has empathy towards others, understands healthy consent, and can help end sexual assault and rape culture.

I am learning new age-appropriate ways to continue this conversation like:

  • Ask for hugs and kisses from your little one.

  • Never make your kid hug or kiss others, but rather offer them the option.

  • Teach kids how to stop and help others when in trouble, which teaches bystander intervention. It can be as simple as, “Look, bug is upside down, let’s turn it over.”

  • Teach them to wash their own private parts and ask them “Can I help?” and if they say “No” then hand them the wash cloth.

  • Emphasize that “no” means “stop” no matter what.

For more ideas on teaching consent click here and here.

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One Response to MINE: Lessons in Consent

  1. Jaclyn Levy August 15, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    THANK YOU for this. It is SO important we talk not only to girls about their bodies but boys, too. If we leave boys out of the conversation rape culture will only continue. I was devastated to find out my neighbor who developed early was often grabbed and touched by young boys who thought her body also belonged to them. Over my dead body will my boys grow into douchebags who view women as “theirs.” We also practice consent. I never make them give physical affection and I’ve even had to tell my MIL “we teach that no means no” when she tried forcing physical affection. It can be hard to withhold kisses when my son asks me to stop but I know it’s imperative that I show him that his body is respected and his to control.

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