It is understandable that parents are sometimes uncomfortable talking to their children about sex. Not every culture endorses the idea of teen and pre-marital relationships, but when you live in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it’s incumbent on parents to discuss the idea of love and relationships.
One of the least common discussions is the one surrounding consent. It’s assumed that the rules of seeking and giving permission are understood. That young adults will make the right choices.
This isn’t true, and parents need to make the subject of consent a priority, both in the context of sexual and non-sexual boundaries.
Our sons and daughters need to understand, that exerting dominance and getting what they want is a sign of weak moral character and potentially a criminal offence.
1. “No means no”, there are no two ways about it.
2. Sexual coercion of any kind, be it emotional blackmail, badgering, threatening, believing they owe you (because you’re dating or in a relationship) or even drugging someone to get your way is not consent.
3. Not “getting your way” can range** from holding someone’s hand to having sexual intercourse. Even seemingly harmless acts require permission.
4. A yes is not a “yes” unless it’s a clear enthusiastic “YES”.
5. Not saying “no” doesn’t mean it’s a yes either. It isn’t consent if you are afraid to say no.
6. Flirting, dressing sexy, accepting a drink, accepting a ride home is NOT consent.
7. Their reputation (gossip or even truth) or past relationships are not a free access pass of consent to you.
8. Saying yes under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is NOT consent.
9. Being clear and direct about your wishes is important. Making an effort to clearly understand someone else’s wishes is equally important.
10. Consent is an ongoing process and is not established once and for all. Keep talking, communication and establish boundaries. Just because you’ve been given consent once, doesn’t mean you have been given permission forever.
11. Consent can be taken back at any time. You may have given permission in the moment, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be taken back at the slightest feeling of discomfort.
12. Consenting to one thing doesn’t automatically mean consenting to something else. If you’ve been given permission to** hold hands, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to kiss or have sex.
13. Consenting to something in one relationship doesn’t mean you have to do so in another.
14. No relationship is exempt from consent. Caregivers and teachers; family members; boyfriends and girlfriends; romantic interests; co-workers and bosses; husbands and wives; lesbian or gay partners and common-law partners, everyone needs to seek permission.
** The range is meant to show two extremes and isn’t restricted by or to those specific examples. The range of consent varies from person to person.
Our guide outlines the facts based on research from several online and offline resources. If you are in doubt or worried about your child for any reason, consult with a qualified and certified mental health professional.
Reviewed by: Dr. Melanie Schlatter
Date reviewed: 14th November, 2018