This post is about consent. It’s an important one, for me personally, as I am trying to instil in my daughter the message that consent is paramount. Always. She’s far too young for any adult activities that require consent, but I extend the same logic to her playtime with her peers. She’s often saying that her friends don’t want to play the games she wants to play.
I say to her, “that’s ok, let them suggest games they’d like to play and take it in turns to choose what you do. If you don’t like their suggestion, then you don’t have to join in. But you can’t always expect them to want to join in with your ideas. You’re all individuals with different interests.” As with most youngsters, it’s often a case of in one ear, out the other. So I patiently repeat my lesson to her the next time she complains. And the time after that.
Once I’ve reinforced this message to her, and she retains it, I will progress to the next one. Consent can be withdrawn or refused at any time. Even midway through an activity that was originally consented to. If this happens I will teach her that her response needs to be compassionate, and understanding. There is nothing to gain from making someone feel wrong about their decision to revoke consent. It will only cause resentment and bad feeling. We tell our children not to snatch and to be kind. The same applies to their emotional responses.
If their game is rejected, it does not mean they are being disrespected. To force their idea onto someone else is disrespectful. That sends the message that they don’t care or give validation to that person’s feelings. Which is a form of gaslighting and manipulation too. I want my daughter to earn respect and give it in return. My advice will be to listen to someone’s words and look at their body language. If they say ‘yes’ but they’re hunched over with their arms crossed, then actually, maybe they aren’t happy with an idea. In this case, she should ask again what their status is.
Consent applies to so many things in life; not just sex. If someone tells you something in confidence, then you ought to ask whether you can share that information with anyone else, before you do. The only time I’d say that you could breach that trust is if you are concerned for their safety or if you think they may harm someone else.