Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

9 Things I Won't Do To My Son's Body Without His Permission

Ad failed to load

While I love my children immensely and fiercely, I wholeheartedly believe my children are not my possessions and their bodies belong to them, not me. As a result of that steadfast belief, there are more than a few things I won't do to my son's body without his permission. I believe his right to bodily autonomy trumps my wants or desires (or anyone else's) in almost all situations. That means I don't make him give his grandma a kiss, get his hair cut, or even eat a food he hates, no matter how much I want him to give it a try.

You see, I want my sons to know that they control of what happens to their bodies and to understand concepts like consent and personal boundaries. That means that in our house we show physical affection only when the other party consents. I won't make my son give his grandma a kiss, but I also expect that my son won't hug her without first getting her permission.

And, for us, no means no, even for small things. I don't ask my children to do things "for mommy." It may sound weird, but when we force, convince, or coerce children to do things with their bodies that they don't want to, only because we want them to, we teach them that they should deny their feelings to please others. It might not seem so horrible when it comes to trying the soup I spent the day making, or smiling for the camera, but it also might teach them that they should submit to unwanted affection or sexual contact because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings. Yeah, that's not OK.

Ad failed to load

We all want our kids to safely grow into confident adults, and teaching them about bodily autonomy is a great place to start. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions, mainly for health, safety, and hygiene reasons. While I can't always say OK when they don't want a flu shot or to let me brush their teeth, I can give them plenty of choices about toothpaste, hair styles, clothes, and whether or not they want hugs and kisses.

So, with that in mind, here are a few examples of things I won't do without my son's permission:

Ad failed to load

Have Him Circumcised

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

If my sons decide to get circumcised when they are adults, I will support them and their decision to do so. However, my husband and I decided to not have our sons circumcised as infants, because we believe they deserve to have that choice.

Give Him Hugs And Kisses

I try to always ask first before giving my son a hug or kiss, and I respect his wishes if he says "no." It may seem silly and he nearly always says "yes," but I am modeling consent and he will know, from his earliest memories, that it is important.

Make Him Sit On The Easter Bunny's Lap

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I will never forget the day my son's daycare called me to tell me that my son refused to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap for a photo, and wouldn't stop crying. I was livid that they chose not to respect his wishes. Besides, that Easter bunny was creepy AF. I would cry, too.

Ad failed to load

Dress Him

As long as it's clean and weather appropriate, I honestly couldn't care less what my sons wear. They have a right to self-expression through their clothing choices, so it's honestly not up to me.

Cut His Hair

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I got so much flack for this one, but my now 4-year-old son just got his first haircut. I waited until he asked. It's his hair, and no, I don't care if he, "looks like a girl." Girls are awesome.

Make Him Smile

I hate it when people tell me to smile, so why would I make my sons smile? I might gently ask them to smile for the camera, but I can't force them to express an emotion or look a certain way, even for a nice picture.

Ad failed to load

Force Him To Eat Foods He Hates

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I still shudder when I think about my parents making me sit at the table until I ate liver. Liver, you guys. Nope.

We don't force our kids to eat foods they hate. It's not worth the fight, and I really don't want them to develop issues about food. Besides, how would you feel if someone forced you to eat something you hated? You probably would never trust them again. I want my sons to trust me and know that I respect them.

Force Him To Play A Sport

My kids have a right to choose what extracurricular activities they want to try. My heart breaks when I see another parent force their child to play a sport they don't enjoy.

Kids are not possessions. I'll say it again for the cheap seats in the back: kids are not possessions. I sincerely hope my sons don't think they have to do something they hate to please me or their dad.

Force Him To Accept Hugs And Kisses From Other People

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I really don't care how many people I piss off with this rule. My sons have the final say about what happens to their bodies. Full stop. That means that occasionally they won't want to hug, kiss, shake hands, or even high five, and that's perfectly OK with me.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack