Having a daughter was always something I was prepared for, and in many ways. I knew how difficult it would be to teach her about body positivity, feminism, being true to herself, and all the other challenges that go along with being female in today's society. Raising a son, though? It's hard in completely different ways. Sure, every good parent teaches their son about respect but, well, there's more to it than that. Teaching your son about consent, without ever mentioning sex, is where it really all begins. In the end, consent means so much more than just having, or not having, sex.
We're all born with a certain moral compass (I'd like to believe) but there are hundreds of years' worth of cultural messages that distorts the meaning of consent, or erases it entirely and refuses to acknowledge that it exists and is necessary. We, as parents, need to teach our sons to ignore what culture has come to define (or fail to define) consent as, in order to avoid having more Brock Turners released into the world. If we are going to raise a generation that destroys rape culture and believes in complete body autonomy, it starts with us our sons (and daughters) and, yes, it starts young.
So, for me, the conversation has already begun with my 2-year-old son, and it will continue well into his teenage years. Naturally, there's no mention of sex at this point, but eventually there will be, when he's old enough to talk about it. I think it's one of the most important concepts I'll ever teach him. So, having said that, here are eight ways to teach your son about consent without ever mentioning sex: