As the mother of a toddler, I’ve been very aware of the conversations occurring about teaching consent from a young age. Teaching a child that they have boundaries and have control over their bodies (well, some — you still have to wash your hands after playing in the mud, and no, you can’t go outside without shoes on) is high up on my list of lessons I hope to instill in my son.
Growing up, many of us were taught we had to hug and kiss family members of friends even if we didn’t want to. Our comfort levels were compromised because our parents didn’t want Uncle Bob to feel sad that we didn’t want to sit on his lap. Raising a child to have boundaries means dealing with people who believe that their demands are more important than a child’s feelings of agency.
Luckily, parents out there are becoming more vocal about how important teaching boundaries and consent are for both girls and boys.
One mom on TikTok has sparked a conversation about such a topic by creating a video in which she explains that even her own parents need permission to hug her child.
Brittany Baxter wants society to start normalizing children’s agency, and she wants it to start with people not getting upset if a child does not want to kiss them.
“Can we please start normalising the fact that kids do not have to kiss in front of adults? My daughter’s almost two years old and I’ve been in the process of teaching her consent basically since the day that she’s been born, and I find it really f**king unhelpful when the adults in her life are like ‘What?! We have to ask for a kiss and a hug?’, even though I’ve explained why multiple times,” Baxter said.
“And then when she says no, they’re like, ‘Oh she doesn’t love me my feelings are so hurt’ and then they proceed to overstep her body boundaries anyway.”
“No one’s feelings are ever going to be more important than my daughter’s right to her own body and I’m sure as s**t not going to allow her to grow up in an environment where 1. She doesn’t know how to say no, and 2. She doesn’t know what it looks like for her not to be respected,” Baxter explained.
“It’s not her fault and it’s not my fault that the older generation haven’t taken the time throughout their entire lives to learn how to regulate their emotions/feelings so consent doesn’t continue to be overlooked,” Baxter added.
Baxter’s viral TikTok inspired a conversation between parents who agree with her philosophy and those that don’t, with some people praising her and others accusing her of taking things too far.
But Baxter just wants folks to empower their children and, in particular, she wants grandparents to “do better” and respect her wishes.