I love this article.
It astonishes me, especially in this current climate of Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby and Louis CK and Donald Trump and…well. I don’t need to keep going, do I? Anyway, it astonishes me that people don’t see where sexually inappropriate behavior starts. It starts in PRESCHOOL.
When little boys learn that it’s okay to use their bodies to do something to the bodies of other children (girls OR boys) that other children do not want, it’s the perfect set-up for them to grow up to be sexually inappropriate.
When my oldest, who is six, wants to hug his toddler brother and his brother doesn’t want it, I never, ever say to the toddler, “Oh, be nice. Your brother just wants to hug you.” Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to teach my oldest that when someone says no with their words and/or their bodies, he must back off. I can offer to hug him, or he can go hug his dad. And sometimes, the lesson is: no one wants a hug right now. You might have to wait for one later.
And my toddler gets to practice already too. He has befriended a sweet little girl in his preschool class and the two are inseparable…they hug one another and crash to the floor, they walk to the parking lot together, they smile and talk to each other with their faces one inch apart, etc. But sometimes my toddler wants to hold her hand and she doesn’t want to. I can see her frowning and scowling and pulling her hand away, and my little boy keeps grabbing her hand…not because he’s bad, but because he’s a toddler. That’s my opportunity to step in and say, “She looks like she doesn’t want to. Can you find someone else who might want to hold your hand?”
Because you know what? I don’t care how cute I think my kid is (because really, that’s what it comes down to…about the parent’s blindness because of their kid’s adorableness, and their own selfish nonsense about not wanting to “hurt my kid’s feelings” or “break his spirit”). My boys don’t get to invade other people’s bodies when other people have said or shown that they don’t want to be touched. Period.
I don’t have daughters, but of course, I was once a girl and am now all grown up. I was taught, from my earliest memories, to “be nice.” To succumb to hugs I didn’t want and to kiss relatives I was scared of (not because they did anything wrong or bad…just because I was shy and nervous around them). This is a great way to skew a child’s inner intuitive “navigator” on how they feel about their bodies and what to do with them, especially a girl’s. When a little girl says no, that she doesn’t want a hug or a kiss or to play with the little boy who just yanked her hair or forced a kiss on her, she needs to be applauded and encouraged. Adults need to stop sending little girls mixed messages and correcting them when they stand up for themselves.