When is the last time you spoke with your high school or college age student? I don’t mean the quick, 5 minute “how is everything going” talk. I mean the “hey, let’s go have dinner and catch-up” kind of talk.
Parents and kids lead incredibly busy lives, which can make it extremely difficult to sit down and really talk. This is a very important time of the year to have this kind of talk. With school just starting, there can be a lot of important changes in a child’s life. As a parent, keeping up with these changes can be a daunting task – but a necessary one.
You have heard the statistics before of how often sexual assaults happen to people of all genders during their teens and early twenties. The majority of these crimes go unreported.
Talking to your child about the tough topics like this can set a few potential actions in motion. First, if we talk about consent and respect, they may be able to recognize that a partner’s intentions may not match up with their own.
Second, we need to let our children know that it is ok to say, “No.” Not only is it ok to say “No”, they have the right to stop intimacy at any point. This lesson is important because too often one partner will guilt and coerce the other partner into sexual activity with statements such as “You went this far. You can’t stop now.”
YES you can! You have the right to stop at any point you want.
Third, we need to let our children know they may need to have some tough conversations with their partners. They need to find out what their partner is thinking, what they want to do, and what they do not want to do.
One of the major myths surrounding “Asking First” is that asking is a “major mood killer.” Teens and college age students want to be seen as “smooth” and not awkward. Consequently, instead of verbal consent, too often they will try to decipher body language – which is not reliable and not the way to insure what your partner actually wants. If you can’t ask first, then you know you are not ready.
Right now is the perfect time to talk to your child about these topics. They have had a few weeks to settle into school and have most likely come across these situations themselves, or heard about them through friends. Keeping our kids safe means educating them so that they can make smart decisions, especially when we are not around. Give your children the tools to build relationships based on respect and consent.