• Talking to Teens About Sexual Consent | Christy Keating | Episode 173

  • sexual consentThere are many conversations we need and want to have with our teens and talking to our kids about sex is one of them. There’s a lot they need to know and one aspect of this conversation that often gets overlooked is sexual consent. Parents often don’t realize they need to talk about consent. Even when they do, they don’t know the ins and outs and legal ramifications of various actions. And sometimes they aren’t even certain what sexual consent really means. Christy Keating understands consent. She’s a parent coach and a lawyer who understands the situation well. She joins Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler to talk about consent, sharing what parents need to know and how to have those conversations with your kids.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    Our kids don’t want to ask if they can hold someone’s hand or kiss them because they’re afraid the other person will say no. That’s exactly why they need to ask! If you don’t ask, do it, and they don’t want it then you’ve violated their body.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Talking to Teens About Sexual Consent:

    Quote about sexual consentWhen parents talk to their kids about sex, they overlook the topic of sexual consent.

    Parents believe they raised a good kid who would never break consent. However, kids will be measured against the legal standard and they need to understand it.

    The legal standard for sexual consent varies state to state but in general it is focused on force or lack of consent. Not saying no isn’t consent. The gold standard is to freely give their consent for mutually wanted action. It must be informed, enthusiastic, and legal.

    True consent only happens between sober partners of sound mind and legal age.

    The problem is that body language is not always obvious or easy to read. With developing brains and social skills it’s even harder.

    It’s important to ask, “Hey, would it be okay if I held your hand?”

    Kids say they couldn’t ask for permission to hold hands or kiss. When you ask why they say they’re afraid the other person would say no. We need to acknowledge the fear of rejection and also open the conversation up and discuss the person who would be on the receiving end of that action. What if they were afraid to say no just like you were afraid to ask?

    Help your teen build empathy skills. Ask them what various situations would feel like for them.

    Help your teen build relationship skills. Teach them that when they don’t want to do something they can say “No thank you”. And when they are told no they can say, “Thank you for telling me. I would never want to do something that would make you uncomfortable.”

    These conversation are the same for kids of all genders and sexual orientations. That being said, the vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by boys and men. The majority of victims are women and girls.

    Keep the conversations short and keep the conversations about consent separate from conversations about safety. When it comes to sexual consent, everyone should be safe no matter what.

    Help your child figure out what their values are and how they will handle various situations.

    Ask them what a healthy relationship looks like to them and what they want in a relationship. Also ask how they want their partner to feel in this relationship.

    Sexting is the transmission of sexually suggestive photos. It includes any photo without clothes and can be sent over texting, email, snapchat, etc. It’s developmentally normal for kids to be curious but they need to understand the ramifications of sexting.

    We need to help our kids understand is everything they put on any electronic medium is out there and out of their control, even on apps that delete it. These things are both public and permanent. Depending on where you live, there may be legal ramifications. The laws vary by state but they may be considered to be in possession of child pornography.

    When someone over 18 is in possession of, or transmits a sexually suggestive photo or naked photo of someone under 18 then they are in possession of criminal material. This is considered child sexual abuse material and there can be real legal ramifications including registering as a sex offender for life. 

    Our kids often believe most kids are doing this. In reality it’s only 20%-30%. We need them to know everyone isn’t doing this, it’s dangerous and possibly illegal. 

    We can teach our kids to think critically about a problem by asking them these questions:

    • Why would you do that?
    • What would you want out of that?
    • Is it going to accomplish what you want?


    Christy’s handout on talking about consent https://www.theheartfulparent.com/consent

    Sometimes our children get into a relationship where the age difference causes an issue. You can find out what the laws are for your state at rainn.org

    Sexuality and Gender Identity Concerns | Sarah Sproule | Episode 144

    Preventing Dating Violence In Your Teenager’s Life | Dr. Shalanda Moten | Episode 65

    Talking Sex To Your Teenager | Cath Hakanson | Episode 12

    Our Guest:

    Christy Keating talks about sexual consentChristy Keating is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent.  Christy loves helping parents find more love, joy, and connection in their families and with their children by helping them discover newfound energy in their parenting, develop an appreciation for what they have and who they are, and create sustainable ways to achieve their vision or dream for their family.  

    Christy is a Certified Parent Coach®, a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, a Certified Instructor with the Gottman Institute.  She is also a long-time leader and speaker at the Program for Early Parent Support. 

    In addition to her work as a parent coach, Christy is a licensed attorney and former prosecutor of 20 years with an expertise in the prosecution of sexually violent predators, as well as an active member of the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. 

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://www.theheartfulparent.com 

    Our Sponsor:

    Stressed moms have a harder time being the parent they want to be. Get Sandy’s free video lesson and her Core Strategy Inventory to get real relief from stress at sandyfowler.com/stress-relief