How a Haircut Can Teach Consent to Children (Guest Feature by ScaryMommy)

ScaryMommy is one of my personal fav sites for slightly snarky but very honest and practical parenting perspectives and advice.  Of course, I’m honored when they publish my work and grateful that my work and ideas are able to reach a larger audience.

You can teach consent at home, school, or synagogue all day and in many ways.

I posted this clip on social media a few years ago- and it had many (positive) reactions- and not just ‘shares’- but people actually reached out to discuss and inquire about this interaction.

It did not seem all that remarkable to us- adorable, for sure- but not particularly out of the ordinary.

I learned that teaching consent and practicing it – especially with very young children- is something that just didn’t occur to many of the wonderful, dedicated, progressive parents of even very recent generations.

Good news is that teaching consent is a critical but uncomplicated concept.

Read on to learn more about how, where, and why you can teach consent- even during a seemingly mundane chore like getting a haircut.

Teaching Consent to Our Kids: A Lesson in Kavod (Respect)

Teaching consent and bodily autonomy by practicing how we can request, give, deny, and change our minds about consent is a very conscious priority in our house.

Teaching consent looks and feels different at various ages, stages, and scenarios- when our babies were itty-bitty we narrated diaper changes and slowly explained how and why we we cleaned all their body parts while identifying them by anatomically correct names. We navigated through what felt like long periods of time when we had to remind ourselves to graciously accept when our hugs and cuddles were rebuffed by toddlers. Now, our very articulate four year old reminds her toddler sister to watch their baby sister’s face for cues to see if she likes the cuddles she is offered and tries to ask via baby sign if she wants ‘more’ or is ‘all done’ periodically during a tickle session.

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to work with the fine folks at the Union for Reform Judaism to write a piece for their blog that reaches Jews from diverse communities all over the world about a Jewish aspect of the imperative to teach consent at home, synagogue and school.

Teaching Consent to Our Kids: A Lesson in Kavod (Respect)


(this is an excerpt from article published in full here)

As a parent and a Jewish educator, there are a few topics about which I am especially passionate – those where my knowledge as an educator align closely with my experience as a parent raising young children in today’s world. For example, a few that I take very seriously are my job to use car seats safely, to read to my kids every day, and to coach social-emotional skills because I know how much each of those things matter in raising healthy adults.

Our sage Maimonides teaches that the mitzvah (commandment) of shmirat haguf – literally, safeguarding one’s body – is a spiritual imperative. I want my kids’ bodies and their spirits to grow and to thrive. Thus, another lesson that I attend to with great care is the idea that all bodies merit autonomy, and that communication about and consent for how (and if) we touch one another is an integral element of every relationship – starting with our young children. Read more…

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