Speaking to your kids about sex is something no one enjoys, but it’s important, for their education and their safety.
One of the biggest worries as a parent can be that your child will be pressured into doing something that they don’t want to do. This week (24 – 30 September) is Sexual Health Week, and we’re looking at how to discuss consent with your children.
Giving consent is not just the action of giving permission or agreeing to do something, it’s also ensuring that you feel comfortable with that decision. As the Family Planning Association says, “It’s about listening, negotiating, and enthusiastically agreeing.”
With 61 per cent of young people aged 14-17 thinking it’s not okay for someone to withdraw their consent if they’re already naked, the conversation about consent is necessary now more than ever.
Peer pressure can be a huge problem among teens, and the thought of being cast out of your social circle, or being made fun of, can unfortunately be a huge motivator.
It is vital that young people understand that they can say “no” in any situation, and teaching them this in everyday life scenarios can help empower them to be able to do this when they embark on romantic relationships.
It’s important for children to learn from a young age that they have autonomy: this could mean not forcing them to hug family members and friends if they don’t want to, or teaching them that if their friend doesn’t want a hug, to respect their decision.
It works both ways: you don’t want your child to end up in a situation where they’ve been pressured into doing something because they didn’t understand that they could revoke their consent; alternatively you don’t want them to get in trouble because they have done something without the other person’s consent.
There are plenty of resources out there to help parents navigate the topic of consent with their children. Let’s start empowering young people to make safe, sensible, positive choices about their sexual wellbeing. For more information, visit the Family Planning Association website, at www.fpa.org.uk