boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I want to post about my panels even though I don't remember enough to make writeups that are useful to anyone but me.

Teaching Consent had two panelists with parenting experience and two with experience in sex education, but one of the sex educators dropped out at the last minute.

Most of what I remember about this panel are the weird tangents that can be summarized as Don't Be Creepy. Don't Be Creepy is a very important part of talking to kids about sex, but it is not the only thing.

The most important thing is to teach children that they have the right to decide what happens to their own bodies by respecting their right to decide what happens to their own bodies. Really. Seriously. Even when they are very young. Even when they make bad decisions. Even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard. I think the most useful thing I did to protect my children from sexual predators was to let them see someone who loved them, and was in a position of power over them, and really really wanted them to eat their vegetables, and did the work to make the vegetables palatable, and explained how eating vegetables would make you feel better and be healthier, and still honored their decision not to eat the vegetables at this time. Because their body, their decision. Really.

I draw the line where my duty to protect overrides their autonomy between "Is their decision going to hurt them?" and "Is their decision going to harm them?" Because every time I violate their autonomy, I may keep them from getting hurt but I am also causing harm. So, I decide whether they get vaccinated (yes) but I don't decide what or how much they eat.

Teaching kids to respect other people's rights seems to me to flow naturally from respecting their rights. Do you get to cut your hair? That's your decision: it's your hair. Do you get to pull my hair? Not unless I say okay: it's my hair.

That leaves the third part of Ed Lane's anti-bullying injunction: "Don't be a perp, don't be a victim, and for God's sake, don't be a bystander." This is not as straightforward. It requires empathy. A useful tool is to talk about stories and imagine yourself into them from each person's point of view. So, I don't want you to be a victim, but I'd like you to imagine getting bullied in front of a bunch of kids who stand there staring: the bystander may be thinking "I cannot believe this is happening" or "I don't know how to stop this," but what the victim sees is a ring of people who are all letting this happen. Or, I don't want you to be a bully, but I'd like you to try to imagine what the bully is thinking. What makes you think this is okay? What could make you see that it is not okay?

As kids approach the age when they're going to put this knowledge to use, they stop wanting to talk to their parents about it. Don't try to override this. It is an important step on the road to independence. It's good to make good books available (on the shelf with all the other Books About Interesting Facts. Do not put the book on their bed. That is creepy.) It's good to tell them about http://www.scarleteen.com/ and other people who want them to have good information, and want them to make good decisions, but will not freak out or take it personally if they disclose that they have made a not-so-good decision. It's good to talk to your kids about these issues as long as you don't personalize it: talk about stories you've heard from other people, news stories, movies, books. Tell them your whole truth, what you believe and why, and be willing to listen to what they think, but don't demand that they tell you: that is creepy.


Nixie attended this panel and my next one. I worried that she might be uncomfortable, but she was curious and said that she'd be fine as long as I didn't point to her to say, "Behold the proof of my excellent theories!"

(Nixie and Mungo are my proof though.)

Date: 2014-06-23 11:01 am (UTC)
amaebi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaebi
I couldn't agree with you more if I had a dump truck.

And, horribly, one's children are proof of the nature of one's familial personhood, though fortunately (in every way) so much more than that.

Date: 2014-06-23 11:50 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Vaccination is the hardest - not deciding to vaccinate (for me that is a straightforward decision) - but the physical act of holding them still for it, knowing it will hurt them.

Even worse when they are old enough to know it will hurt but still small enough I can hold them in place :(

Date: 2014-06-23 01:37 pm (UTC)
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
From: [personal profile] liv
Thank you for writing this up. I'm finding the discussion really interesting. And I think it's really cool that your daughter attended your panel about your parenting techniques! Really interesting ideas about not being creepy, I don't think I'd thought before about the potential conflicts between information-giving, guidance and privacy.

I'm not a parent or involved in educating small children, but I do literally teach consent, in the sense that I teach medical students how to do invasive, painful, potentially dangerous procedures to patients without committing assault. Which makes the stuff about not being a bystander particularly relevant - I am trying to train doctors who will not only respect their patients' rights to say no, but won't be bystanders when colleagues or superiors are more cavalier.

I'm really proud of one of my students who asked a patient for permission to be present during her breast exam, only for the senior consultant to chew her out for refusing, because if students don't get learning opportunities there won't be any doctors to treat her in future. And this student backed up the patient and said he wouldn't watch her exam if she wasn't comfortable with him being there. I really hope he carries on being willing to put his career in jeopardy because he cares so much about meaningful consent.

Date: 2014-06-23 04:11 pm (UTC)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather
Thanks for this write-up. Sounds like a great panel.

Date: 2014-06-24 12:34 am (UTC)
lotesse: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lotesse
you sound like a wonderfully wise mama :)

Date: 2014-06-24 12:48 am (UTC)
brigantine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brigantine
"Behold the proof of my excellent theories!"

Bahahahaha! Hee. I like your family.

Also the consent thing. Get 'em while they're young, and it makes so much difference! I'm on staff at a university, and while I don't teach, I do get the odd chance see how differently kids see things, and you can get a feel for what might have - or have not - been taught at home.

Date: 2014-06-27 08:53 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna offers up "Virtual Timbits" (Anna brings doughnuts)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
I want to transform this post into beautiful golden letters on silk and then distribute to all school flagpoles. Yowza!

(Also Flashpoint shout-out.)

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