Teaching our children about consent and their bodies has never been more urgent. Many of us have watched in horror as the details emerged in the trial of former doctor to the American gymnastics team Larry Nassar, who, under the guise of medical care, abused over 150 young women — some as young as 6 years old. It’s been a sobering parenting lesson in communication with our children, about boundaries and bodies and authority figures.
And yet, there are subtle, everyday ways we undermine the lessons we teach our children about consent — through our own actions and the actions of others, many with whom we are complicit.
This especially hit very close to home during a recent visit to the pediatrician with my 6-and-a-half-year-old. We were at a routine annual checkup with a female doctor. While performing my son’s body exam, she was peppering me with questions about his health, and I admittedly wasn’t carefully watching what she was doing with her tools or her hands. My son was trying to get his own two cents in, as 6-year-olds often do, so I tried to remain focused on what the pediatrician was saying. Suddenly, my son shuddered, his cheeks turned bright red, and he said, “Mooooom, she just touched my PRIVATE PARTS!”