Consent and Respect: We're confusing issues here

In an effort to teach children about consent, we are creating a society of people that believes that they always get exactly what they want and never have to do anything they aren't comfortable with. I believe this is because we are meshing issues that were never meant to be meshed.

In this video, the idea is brought up that parents are accidentally teaching kids that their consent to sexual activity doesn't matter by forcing them to shake hands/hug relatives, by teaching them to respect their elders and so on. The lady in the video expresses that by doing these things, we are telling our kids that they don't have a choice and what they feel doesn't matter, so when it comes time for them to start being sexually active (apparently sometime in their teens), they will be hesitant to ever say no to someone because it will appear rude.

While I totally agree that children need to be taught that no one is allowed to forcibly touch them in an inappropriate way, I believe that these issues are not the same and should not be lumped together into one lesson.

My parents made me shake hands with people and I was told on many occasions to hug my relatives. I was taught to be respectful to my elders and obey adults that were placed in authority over me. And when it came time for me to be in a romantic relationship, I never felt that I could not tell my boyfriend/fiancee that I was uncomfortable with something, no matter how simple or complicated it was. I never felt that I had to keep being in an uncomfortable situation because i might appear rude if I got up and left.

But here is the difference. My parents also taught me something that overruled any idea that my consent wasn't important. They taught me to protect my body. They taught me to respect myself and that my body was special. I knew that I needed to save my body for one special person, and that person should be the one I have committed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is not a popular teaching anymore. We now live in a word of sexual carelessness, preached in the name of expressing yourself. Everything is based on how you feel, and boundaries are yours to choose, even if they are non-existent.

We are creating a generation of selfish, whiny, feelings-driven, promiscuous, irresponsible, wanna-be adults.

I may not have any children of my own, but I have been around them long enough to know a few things (I figured I should get that out there before the thunder of comments began about how a childless woman has no knowledge of raising children). I know that children, especially small ones, do not have the maturity to make proper decisions most of the time. That's why they have parents, and why parents are told to "train up a child in the way that he should go" (Prov. 22:6). Children have small minds, and need guidance to learn how to make proper decisions.

In the video mentioned, the woman talks about how parents don't listen to their children's requests or comments, and end up just telling them what they should think instead of inviting a conversation about what the child does think. She used examples like the child saying "I'm cold", and parent responding "No, you're not, it's hot in here!" Or child: "I'm hungry", and parent: "No, you're just ate dinner!"
She suggested turning it into a conversation and asking the child why they are cold or hungry, instead of just telling them what they should think. In doing so, we are telling them that their opinion does matter.

Now, I see the point, but the problem with this is that in doing so, we are not teaching our children how to have self-control. There are situations sometimes that are beyond your control, such as standing in a funeral home, or sitting in the cart while mommy does grocery shopping. It's uncomfortable, sure. But that fact is that if the parent is constantly catering to the child's every whim and desire, they are not learning that sometimes you just have to suck it up, shut up, stand still and be patient. You are hungry? Ok, but you aren't starving to death. You can wait. You are bored/tired? You'll be ok for a few more minutes. You are not in danger, you are not sick or hurt. The world does not revolve around you. 

And yet there is the logic that was used to create the idea that we are teaching kids that their voice doesn't matter. See? You're telling kids that what they feel isn't important, so now when someone tries to push sex on them, they are going to think that their feelings about it aren't important!

You are comparing apples to oranges. Teaching a child self-control by making them wait patiently in a checkout line or in the car or at a place where they are just clearly not interested has nothing to do with teaching them how to respect their body and protect it.

I knew as a kid that no one was allowed to touch me down there. I knew that if ever I felt uncomfortable with someone, I needed to leave the situation and tell my mom. My mom also was very aware of my surroundings when I was a young, dumb kid whose brain hadn't matured yet and knew what situations not to place me in. I knew that I wanted to save my body for someone special, and that someone special was going to be the man I married. I knew that sex was God's gift to married men and women, and it was not some thing to be played around with by irresponsible young adults that had no intention of getting married.

So you see, I was taught about consent, but my parents didn't mix it with learning how to be a patient, well-behaved child in public. The issues are separate, and mixing them just creates the multitudes of out-of-control kids I see running all over their parents and creating embarrassing spectacles in grocery stores. Parents have become so afraid to harm their tender little personalities or to make them feel like their choices don't matter. Guess what, kid....until you no longer need to be reminded to brush your teeth in the morning, don't need help bathing, can make your own food and take care of yourself when you get the are an immature child that needs the help of a mature adult to make good decisions. And until you have sufficiently learned how to be a responsible part of society, you are just an immature teenager that needs guidance from a mature adult.

Teaching a child self-control and patience seems to be a lost art today. I grew up in a circle where children were expected to behave themselves and sit in less-than-exciting situations for extended periods of time. We grew up knowing to keep our hands to ourselves and to not let other people touch us inappropriately. We were brought to respect ourselves and to respect others. We never felt like our opinions didn't matter and we knew that our parents would talk to us and guide us in the way that we should go.

We weren't raised perfect, but we weren't raised sissies.

Quit making issues out of things that aren't meant to be that way. Stop making excuses and trying to come up with reasons why kids are being sexually abused. It happens because we live in a fallen, sinful creation. Its never right, and never the kids' fault. How about we try teaching the adults to respect children and know their own boundaries? Oh yeah...its probably cause they were taught as kids to do whatever made them FEEL good and do whatever they thought was right.



Post a Comment

to top