There’s a lady in Australia who thinks that it would be a good idea for parents to ask for their children’s permission before changing their diapers in order to promote a culture of consent in the home.
That lady is Deanne Carson and she is the CEO of Body Safe Australia, an organization devoted to teaching sex education to children. She told Australia’s ABC News that she teaches parents to say things to their children like, “I’m going to change your nappy [diaper] now. Is that okay?” While she acknowledges that no child will respond in agreement to the prospect of having her diaper changed, Carson does note that when parents ask for permission that they are, “Letting that child know that their response matters.”
If the parents were really letting their child know that their response matters, they wouldn’t change the diaper when the kid inevitably declines the proposition. Perhaps Ms. Carson owns stock in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste because that’s what families who give in to this line of reasoning will most certainly need. On the other side, what lesson is a child learning about consent when her parents ask for her permission to change her diaper, she says no, and they still do it anyway?
I’m sure that Deanne Carson is a well-meaning woman who only wants what’s best for children and their families. This simply isn’t what’s best. I’ve got a better idea.
The last thing that parents need to worry about is whether or not their child wants to have a diaper change. We all know the answer to that question anyway. If the child is a girl, she wants to have her diaper changed. If it’s a boy, he’d rather wait another week or two. But none of this matters. If the diaper needs to be changed, the parent should change it in a loving way. And at the appropriate time, the parents need to talk to the child about good and bad touching.
But they can do more than just talk. They can demonstrate this in the home. It is here, not in asking for permission to change a diaper, that children can learn appropriate boundaries.
A father and mother who routinely hug and kiss their daughters and sons are teaching them what real affection is. This will make it easier for them to spot the phony or dangerous affections.
Kids who see their parents hug and kiss each other and dance with each other in the kitchen and sleep in the same bed together are getting a much better idea of consent, sexuality, and romantic love than they would if they merely had a say in diaper changes.
Kids don’t need to be taught that their voice matters as much as they need to know that mom and dad’s voice matters and mom and dad care.