Atheist Scruples: It’s never too early to teach about consent

Here’s a good one with a lot of potential for thought. I may have had too much wine to be coherent though. You be the judge.

You think a friend tickles and cuddles your eight-year-old too much. Do you ask your friend to stop?

Tickling and cuddling isn’t sex but it’s still a personal space issue. I might want to discuss it with my kid first and get his or her thoughts on what’s been happening.

How much is too much?

Ultimately, I’d remind my child that he or she always has the option to say no and to walk away if things get too uncomfortable.

Related:

Hopefully I will also have taught my child by this point that others he or she might pester will also have the option to say no and walk away.

The Little Man has run into this with the neighbour kid more than once. She’s a few years older than he is but often mentally she seems younger. Last summer, she turned my water hose on without asking permission and soaked the crap out of him. He was forced up against the fence when I went out to see what was going on. He was clearly not happy to be that cold and wet. Later, I told him he should have asked her to stop and reminded him that he could have come to me earlier, or at least come inside to avoid the splashing. I pretty much sent her home after that. I heard her getting some hell from other other side of the duplex for the lack-of-permission aspect of things, too. I like her, but sometimes she’s a total nitwit.

Another time, he and I had gone to the park and bought popcorn balls from a family that was selling them with lemonade. She later saw he had part of one left and she kept asking me if she could have some of it. I kept telling her it was his popcorn and it was his choice whether or not to share it. Eventually he did acquiesce and I split the remaining ball so she got a bit and he got the rest of it. It was annoying as hell. I can’t say I never did anything similar (begging to camp out in a cousin’s trailer for no good reason comes to mind). I think people need to get over the aversion to NO sometimes. It’s not always a rude answer to a question. It’s a request to “respect my space” kind of answer or a “respect my autonomy” kind of answer.

So, back to the tickling thing. If my kid comes back to me and says, yeah, it feels kind of weird when your friend.. then I’d go to my friend and ask him or her to stop that behaviour. I wouldn’t expect my kid to do all the standing up for himself in that situation. If that friend was miffed over the shutdown, well, too bad. That friend would have to see me alone rather than while the kid was around. End of story. You’ve hit the maximum setting on the Weirdometer and won’t be allowed to tickle him/her again. Sorry. I can still be your friend, probably, but your access to my kid will be limited. Simple as that. Say hi, and don’t touch. Ever. Unless my kid says it’s okay, hands off.

Capisce?

I’m not even Italian.

Comprendez? Va comprend?

Je n’ai French either.

Deal? Hope so. It’s the only one you’re going to get…

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