There are so many things to cover when preparing your teen for college – applications, medical records, buying supplies, potentially learning to cook. When preparing your teen for college, are you also planning to talk about consent?
An article written by Rachel Sokol, published on Family Education website, mentions that conversations about consent should go hand-in-hand with other conversations preparing your teen for college. Consent means asking for another person’s permission before including them in an action or activity. This applies to a pick-up game of soccer, using someone’s dorm room to host a party, and being a supportive partner in a romantic relationship. What matters is that everyone involved in making a decision feels included in the process of making the shared decision. In short, asking for consent is an important life skill for everyone.
Sokol mentions that teens are never too young to be introduced to the idea of consent and parents should take an active role in starting and keeping this conversation going. Teaching consent can be made age-appropriate and allows for tweens and teens to learn that they have autonomy; which is the control over their own, individual bodies.
Sokol interviews some licensed marriage and family therapists who mention the following tips to better communicate to your teens about consent:
- When it comes to giving your teens information about sex, discuss the facts and link them back to any personal values you have when it comes to sexual health,
- Encourage open conversation by allowing your teens to ask questions and express their perspective,
- Conversations about sex and consent should be a two-way street between parents and teens, and not seen as a lecture,
- If you’re stuck on how to start the conversation about sex and consent, read their school’s policy on sexual expectations together. It may cover topics such as sexual assault, consent, etc.,
- Take advantage of teachable moments and spark a conversation based on something you see on TV, hear in a song, etc.,
- Be firm in teaching your teen about respecting others by asking for permission before engaging in any sexual, or non-sexual, activity, and talking about boundaries and preferences with a partner when within a romantic relationship.
Teaching teens about consent before college will provide a fuller understanding of respect for other people, inside and outside of a romantic relationship, and better prepare them for the various experiences they may encounter during their college years. As we send off our teens with a better understanding of their autonomy, we can create a more respectful and safer environment for everyone.
Click on the link below to read the article by Rachel Sokol on FamilyEducation.com on how to talk about consent with your tweens and teens earlier than college.