The Good Men Project editors and contributors share their best advice.
Recent events, including the much-publicized Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the Stanford rape case in 2016, have underscored how important it is for we, as parents, to intentionally raise our kids in such a way to improve upon our current culture, in which over 1 in 4 women report being a victim of sexual assault or rape at some point in their lives.
How should we be talking to our kids about this? How should we best prepare our kids, whether boys or girls?
We’ve collected some words of wisdom from our Editors and Contributors:
1. TALK to your children about sex, sexuality, and consent. Begin the conversation.
“Consent was not a topic of conversation among parents/children when I was growing up. It was not recognized as necessary and important to talk about, but now we know how important it is.” – Mike Kasdan (Director of Special Projects and Editor)
2. The discussion about consent has to be take OUTSIDE of the sexual arena first, in order for it to be effective. When done this way, you can begin at a very young age.
“You need to start talking to both boys and girls about consent and what that actually means from as early as age 2. Two.” – Lisa Hickey (CEO and Publisher)
3. Ask good open-ended questions. Listen.
“Here are some examples: Do you understand what consent is? Do you understand what consent means to you? Do you understand what consent may mean to others? When your ideas of consent don’t line up with someone else’s ideas of consent what do you do? Do you understand how important it is that all people involved make sure everyone consents to a situation?” – Danny Gibbs (contributor)
4. Teach earn and ask versus take. Teach how to accept no and to accept contrary ideas.
“This applies everywhere and forms the foundation of respect. I also think the conversation should be with both sexes.” – Doug Wagner (contributor)
5. Broaden the conversation from just consent to body privacy, and permissions.
“Boys also need to know they have a right to not be touched or intruded upon. If they have a sense that they have that right, emphasize they must extend that right to others.” – Rob Watson (Executive Editor)
6. Have open and direct conversations about how to handle tough situations.
“If someone is incapacitated, make sure they are safe/find thier friends. If someone is taking advantage of or not accepting “no” step in and advocate for the person being pressured/victimized. I went into scenarios and details as well.” – Gretchen Kelly (contributor)
7. Ask your children how they will respond if their own boundaries are crossed.
“Do you know how to say no to a woman or partner? How do you know what your boundaries are, and how do you express them? What do you do when a woman won’t respect your no?”” – Kathryn Hogan (contributor)
8. Talk about it so openly and often that asking for “consent” doesn’t seem like something “weird.”
“What will I teach my son? I’ll teach him that consent means “yes.” That it’s absolutely not weird to ask for consent. That potential partners cannot consent while intoxicated or otherwise out of sorts. That if he is ever unclear about a sexual encounter, he has a responsibility to stop and get clarity.” – Ronnie Stephens (contributor)
9. Don’t just TALK to them about consent, SHOW them. Both in our own relationships that they witness, and WITH them as well.
“They need to learn that consent isn’t just something that needs to be granted by others to them, but that they have a right to give or withhold consent for themselves as well! e.g.: If they don’t want to hug/kiss someone, back them up on that. Show then that they have to give consent too. It’s not just a “girl giving consent to boy” thing. It’s an ALL PEOPLE thing.” – Kathryn Tague (Editor)
10. Consent begins with the recognition of equality, beginning with the understanding that humans have equal value and agency.
“If a child understands that age, size, or gender doesn’t alter their right to say no and have that choice respected, then by extension they can learn that all other beings, regardless of age, size, gender, class, race, or station in life have that same value and right of choice. That applies to being expected to hug and be hugged, smile on demand, or let someone play with your hair just as it does to sexual acts. Honoring consent is basic to acknowledging the equality of the other.” – Dixie Gillaspie (Executive Editor)
Photo Credit: Associated Press/File