Why is Consent so Complicated?

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We used to teach that “no means no”... then “yes means yes.” These days we teach that consent in a sexual relationship requires a “continuous, verbal, and enthusiastic yes!” While we want to believe that having the right instructions will lead to good behavior, in reality, it is hard to teach someone how to be caring and respectful through a list of directions. We need to actually feel connected and believe that the other person’s wellbeing and desires matter. 

As parents, there is a lot we can do during and before our children’s adolescence to foster healthy, intimate relationships. Equipped with more meaningful information, the consent definition can become a useful reminder, rather than the main instruction manual. 

To help solve the problems around consent, we must look at our society’s deeply rooted gender socialization. For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on boys and girls, even though socialization impacts everyone, regardless of gender identity. Even if we buck stereotypes in our homes, gender norms are insidious. We need to talk directly with our children about being themselves despite pressures. To read the whole article, please click here.