How to Talk to Your Children About Sexuality and Consent

How to Talk to Your Children About Sexuality and Consent

How to Talk to Your Children About Sexuality and Consent

We educate adolescents that before engaging in any sexual action, they should ensure that the other person has given their permission. 

They must express their agreement, rather than just seeming to be interested. Although it seems to be an easy request, many adolescents find it uncomfortable to approach their parents for permission. In addition, it may be tough to react, particularly when you want to say “no.”



One reason to educate children to ask for permission is because they may get so focused on what they want that they fail to consider the emotions of others. Teenagers are prone to becoming self-absorbed. They may believe that exerting pressure is an acceptable method of obtaining what they want.



It is important for parents to teach their children that it is not acceptable to push someone into going farther than they are prepared to go. And no one should feel obligated to cave in to pressure to have sex if they are not ready to do so, whether it comes from a partner or from friends.



It’s critical for adolescents to understand that just because someone flirted with you or wore a seductive dress doesn’t imply they agreed to have sex with you. And not telling you to stop does not imply permission.

Because a large number of unpleasant sexual experiences occur when one or both individuals are intoxicated, it is especially essential for children to understand that someone who is intoxicated or high cannot provide permission. And if you witness someone who is intoxicated being forced into having sex, do all you can to assist them in getting away safely.



Boys may have picked up on the notion that women like it when a confident guy pushes beyond their reluctance and into their arms. Particularly essential is informing males that it is not cool or strong, but rather weird and deadly. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Discuss with your son the emotional, psychological, societal, and legal ramifications of sexual misbehavior.



When it comes to teenagers and sex, we now educate them that consent is a need for acceptable sexual engagement as well as a means of avoiding abuse. Consent must be expressed explicitly, and it must be granted frequently as a sexual encounter progresses in intimacy.



While the idea may seem straightforward, many adolescents find it uncomfortable and difficult to ask for, give, or withhold their permission.

One approach to assist children become more adept at both establishing and respecting limits is to provide them with plenty of experience while they are younger. As well as for parents to confront the problem immediately when their children reach the age of majority, which is when they become teens.



Even parents who begin talking about permission with their children early on may encounter some squinting and exclamations of “Ew!” when sex is brought up, according to David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. However, this should not deter parents from rearing their children.



“One of the most important things we want to teach kids of any age is that there are two individuals to consider in any situation. As Dr. Anderson says, “so frequently when sexual assault or any sort of unwelcome attention happens, it’s because the individual exerting the pressure is so focused on their own desires.” For children to really comprehend consent, he believes, they must first develop empathy for others, which is not always easy to accomplish during the self-centered years of adolescence.



Discuss the subject of pressure.

The cliché of non-consensual sex involves a woman who shouts “No” over and over again, and a guy who ignores her and acts, sometimes violently. However, this is not always the case in practice.



“When one or both partners are under a lot of strain, they may end up doing something they later come to regret,” Dr. Anderson adds. When it comes to permission, parents should address the potentially hazardous role played by pressure – whether felt or applied.



Any sort of sexual or romantic engagement 

— or pushing someone to go farther or quicker than they’re ready for — is never acceptable. In the same way, no one should ever put pressure on you to do the same.
Peer pressure may also have an impact. Children may be concerned that they are “behind” their peers in terms of sexual development, or they may feel pushed to do things they are not ready to do in order to get acceptance.


If someone is putting pressure on you, don’t remain silent or remain in one place. “It’s perfectly OK to say, ‘You know, you’re really making me feel uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do this,’ and then leave the situation,” says clinical psychologist Stephanie Dowd, PsyD.
Paying attention to how people are feeling is an important aspect of any relationship, but when it comes to romantic or sexual encounters, it may make the difference between a safe, pleasant experience and one that ends up inflicting damage.



Consent and the use of substances

According to Dr. Dowd, “for starters, we have to recognize that a significant number of nonconsensual encounters occur in circumstances when one or both participants are inebriated.” “So if there’s any booze or drugs involved, that’s a red flag straight immediately.” Talking openly with your kid about drug use is essential regardless of the situation, but, according to her, parents should take particular care to emphasize the role that substance use plays in a person’s capacity to give or receive permission.



“This is an area where there is a significant potential for damage,” she explains, “so having clear and unambiguous regulations is essential.” As an example, consider the following:

People who are drunk, sleeping, or otherwise incapacitated are unable to provide permission under any circumstances.


It’s easy for parents to fall back on the mantra “Don’t do it” when it comes to drug abuse. When it comes to ensuring the safety of your kid, it is necessary to dig a bit deeper. Create a safety plan for circumstances in which drugs or alcohol are likely to be involved. For example, your kid might agree to use the buddy system with a friend in order to guarantee that both of them leave the party safely once the festivities have ended. Alternatively, you might create a plan for her to phone to check in or be picked up at a certain time.


Encourage your kid to assist others in being safe as well as themselves. “Don’t be a bystander,” Dr. Dowd advises. It is important not to overlook the fact that someone is drunk and in a dangerous position, or that they are being forced to do something they do not want to do. Instead, do all you can to assist them in securely escaping and locating assistance.



Consent given verbally

Even in circumstances that seem to be straightforward, it is critical for children to communicate with their partners and with themselves throughout the process. Create a list of questions that kids may use to check in with their companion to help them avoid potentially hazardous situations. As an example, consider the following:


Are you having a good time?
Is it possible that we are going too quickly?
Are you still in agreement with this?
Are you okay with me touching you in this area?
“We also want children to understand that only a loud ‘yes’ constitutes permission,” Dr. Dowd adds. “Anything that makes you feel less committed or less clear is a warning that it’s time to take a break and check in before continuing.”



Consent expressed nonverbally

Throughout the process, it is important to ask questions to ensure that both partners are comfortable, although verbal permission is not always sufficient. In the heat of the moment, it may be difficult to know how you feel, particularly if you like the other person or are concerned that saying no would hurt their emotions or make the situation uncomfortable or humiliating, says Dr. Dowd. The phrase “I’m fine” is often used when someone is not feeling well. 


Children should also be aware of nonverbal signals, such as:

Pay close attention to how you seem to others. Does your spouse seem to be in good physical shape? Is it more like they’re leaning in or pulling back? Are they reacting positively or avoiding contact?

Is sexual contact initiated by both individuals, or is it only by one of them?
Do they seem to be in a good mood?
What isn’t consent is the following:
It may be just as essential to teach children to recognize what isn’t consent as it is to teach them what is. Examples of things that do not imply consent are as follows:

Putting on a sultry ensemble
Any response other than a categorical “yes” when asked whether it’s alright to proceed is considered a negative response.
You haven’t been requested to stop by the other party.
The other individual seems to be “into it.”


Taking stock of your situation
Finally, children should ask themselves these same questions whenever they are involved in any sort of sexual or romantic relationship. Dr. Dowd advises parents to encourage their children to check in with themselves on a regular basis. They should be asking themselves, ‘Is this something I really want?'” says the team. Do I have a sense of safety and respect? Are there any feelings of pressure from this other person or from my friends to do something I’m not ready to do?’



Making a mental checklist of questions for children to refer to when faced with a difficult situation will aid them in navigating difficult situations, but parents should emphasize to children that it is always acceptable to say “stop” at any time, for any reason — even if they aren’t sure what the reason is right away.



Talking to young men
Consent is an essential lesson for all children to learn, but for males, the lesson is frequently more difficult — and more necessary — to acquire. Boys and girls begin to get distinct — and sometimes contradictory — signals about sex and what is (and isn’t) appropriate conduct from a very early age.



“As a culture, we have a horrible tendency of telling females, ‘You need to learn how to remain safe,’ and then stopping there,” says Dr. Dowd. “But this erroneously puts the whole responsibility of having a consensual contact on girls, and suggests that if it goes wrong, they’re to blame.”



Boys, on the other hand, she claims, are taught that having or receiving sex is associated with being confident, strong, and manly. In the case of males, particularly throughout their adolescent years, these preconceptions are often reinforced by the media and, even more strongly, by peer pressure. In movies and television programs, males are often shown plotting and scheming about how to deceive women into going to bed with them. And refusing to accept no for an answer is often shown as an effective, and sometimes even romantic, tactic in films.




A girl’s tastes and limits are frequently seen as insignificant even before she opens her lips as a result of these contradictory signals. Parents, according to Dr. Dowd, may assist their boys by talking to them about respectful conduct and stressing their part – and responsibility – in consent.



Dr. Dowd advises that you define what true confidence looks like for yourself. “Confident individuals are attentive to and considerate of their partner’s requirements. Continuing to push when someone says’stop’ is not only creepy and hazardous, it is also uncool and powerful.”


Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Discuss openly with your son the emotional, psychological, societal, and legal ramifications of sexual misconduct.