I have been doing a lot of leadership work the past five years, and one of the main things I realized is how little we practice consent. This is not the first time I have considered this subject, but something happened this weekend that made me rethink so much of my own behaviors as a mom.
As parents, we post things on social media about our kids at such a young age that they are not able to give consent. This is something that I wrestle with on a daily basis. I am guilty of posting baby pictures, and even pictures of my kids this summer without explicitly asking my children if I can post them. I don’t know why, when I know that this is something I want us as a society to be more aware of, yet I continue to forget myself.
What happened recently was a little girl, who was maybe 6, was jumping into a pool I was at, and her mom was watching. Her mom pulled out her phone, and the little girl specifically told her not to take a video, she was not ready to be recorded. The mom told her “ok,” but recorded her anyway. I am sure I have done this many times too, but this time it hit me.
As parents, we are the people our kids trust the most, and by not asking to record or take a photograph, we are sending a message that consent is not necessary from the people you trust, and then by not honoring the request made, we send a message that your voice doesn’t matter when it comes to consent with the people you trust.
This hit me hard - no wonder we have a problem with consent in our society, we don’t value it as something to teach. I shared these thoughts with some of my family, and we had a really good discussion. Sometimes age impacts the understanding of consent, and also sometimes age is just going to say no to everything. So there are some underlying issues that I need to consider, but I still think we as parents should be modeling appropriate consent behaviors for our children to normalize them for our children. If it is not natural and normal in the safest places, then it will definitely not be normal in uncomfortable situations, and this is where my concern exists.
Where can you add consent into your actions to normalize it?