Conversation About Consent With My Dad

Dad: Your brother and I had to have a talk the other night about his youngest.

Me: Yeah? Fits of rage again?

Dad: Don’t get me started on that one. Like I told his wife, if she’s showing rage, it just means she is genetically part of our family.  But,yeah, he was telling me they are still having issues with her fits of rage.

Me: She’s 2 – kinda comes with the age.

Dad: Yeah, I know.  I told him the other night while she and her sister were at our house, she started hitting her sister & not listening to anyone telling her to stop.  So I raised my voice and went, “Hey – you do not do that in my house – do you understand me?”  She looked at me with big eyes, nodded her head yes, then walked away from her sister to go color.  Your brother started in on me because “that’s not how we handle it with her because we believe in…” blah blah blah blah.  I cut him off and said as long as she’s in my house, I will handle it as I deem appropriate – and this seemed to work better than their “methods”.

Me: So their issue is that the 2 year old his hitting her big sister?

Dad: Yeah.  And her big sister is too kind hearted to do anything more than “use her words” which just….

Me: ….eggs on the 2 year old who now thinks it’s funny.

Dad: Yep.  Know this do you?

Me: Of course – our kids did the same thing – younger beating on the older one – older being too nice to fight back with anything more than her words.  Except in our case, DJ was doing TKD so knew she could actually hurt her sister.

Dad: Well apparently, they don’t like the violence in the house.

Me:  (chuckle) probably best they don’t come to me for advice then.

Dad: Why? How did you handle it?

Me: I pulled DJ aside one day when it was particularly bad and told her she has one free pass to knock her sister on her ass.  It was clear to both G and I that her sister was not going to stop until DJ took care of it.  Until then, it would be a game of DJ getting upset, us intervening, then it would start over again.

Dad: Funny you say that, because I was going to suggest to your brother they do the same thing with their oldest.  Because here is the problem I have with the “using your words” approach all the time.  You are dealing with girls.  And if you drill into their heads that using anything outside of their words is bad when trying to stop someone doing something to them they do not want, then what happens when they find themselves in a situation where they need to fight back?  They are just going to freeze because their words don’t work.  I’m sorry but girls especially need to know that it’s ok to hit and kick and use force to make someone stop doing something they are saying “no” to.

Me: Funny – I never thought of it from that angle before – but you’re right.  G hated that the girls fought until our pediatrician told him that sibling fighting is developmentally important because it teaches kids in a safe place how to relate to others including resolving conflict.  Learning about Consent is the same thing.  What happens when someone doesn’t stop when you say stop – on both sides of that conflict.  Nothing wrong with them learning that at home too.

Dad: I don’t think so.  Remember when I had to teach you how to make a boy at school stop trying to look up your dress?

Me: I tell that story more than you know.  I think everyone is shocked that you told me that but more shocked that the school’s response when you tried to go through them first was “boys will be boys”.

Dad: Maybe that’s why I don’t see a problem with the little one getting knocked on her ass by her sister.  Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself because you may be around adults who should stop things but don’t.

Me: Valid point…..sadly.

Dad: Yeah, but what do I know – I’m just an old man with old ideas.

Me: Actually, I think your ideas are more dead on than those of my brother’s right now.

What do you think?

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