We are teaching our children, our little girls, that when they say “no” it doesn’t matter. That their protestations about things happening to them fall on deaf ears.
No I don’t want to cuddle or kiss someone, tough. That adult wants a cuddle or a kiss, and as a child it is your duty to provide those things.
We need to stop and think about how these duties, these obligations, these rejections of our right to say no, as young children translate into those of adult women.
I have had my “no” ignored, rejected, and it is a tough pill to swallow, but not as tough as perhaps it should be.
“No I don’t want to” “Yes you do” “No I don’t” “Yes you do”
It’s a conversation which will be tragically familiar to many, both men and women, and perhaps one we don’t always register as being fundamentally wrong. If you say no, that is a valid statement, regardless of your age and regardless of your gender.
No matters. No should be heard. No should be listened to. No should be respected.
Of course, there are times when Miss Rose declares “no” to the most unhelpful of things. Times when I have to ignore her objections for the sake of safety or decency. She can’t run in the road, she has to hold my hand near traffic, she can’t spend the entire day naked. Saying “no” to those things is impractical and/or dangerous. I always make sure I explain why she is being ignored. I don’t just overrule her without explanation.
If she doesn’t want to wear something, I don’t force her. She can wear something different it doesn’t matter. If she doesn’t want someone to pick her up, I don’t let them. If she doesn’t want to give someone a kiss or cuddle, I don’t force her. But, interestingly, the adults to whom she says no frequently do to try to force her.
I have watched as people ask her for a kiss and a cuddle, and she says “No!” and visibly cowers away or tries to hide her face, and they try to grab her and pull them to her. They try to force a physical intimacy on my daughter. Call it over reacting if you wish, but it isn’t. It is forcing a little girl to be kissed by someone she does not want to be kissed by. Once that pattern is established, it’s not hard to understand why so many of us find standing up for ourselves hard.
It is a small word with so much meaning, and so much impact. Teach our children not only to respect the no’s of others, but to demand their own no’s to be respected too. Teach our little ones to have a voice and to not accept others trying to force them to do anything they do not want to do. Don’t treat our children as beings without desires or opinions and expect them to suffer for the desires or opinions of others.
Respect it. Teach your child to respect it.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!