A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

No means no

Posted by Pepper on January 12, 2021

On average, Mint and I find ourselves repeating that statement at least 20 times a day. Explaining boundaries, especially physical boundaries is hard when it comes to toddlers. Now put toddler twins and that task becomes a lot harder. Because we are talking about two little people who are exactly the same age and have the same level of understanding and maturity. No one is better than the other.

We live in such an awfully sexist world, we feel a higher sense of responsibility to raise our son to be respectful, sensitive and well, just somebody who doesn’t cave in to gender stereotypes. If you know Cotton in person, you will know about his reputation of being one of the sweetest kids on the block. Honestly, he’s a darling. But I still worry, because the default setting of the world turns men into entitled and sexist jerks. You have to work really hard to tune out of the default setting designed for your gender.

Candy, on the other hand, is a brat. She is fierce, loud and defiant. She is also not as sensitive as Cotton. In fact, she is my rowdy kid. But again, I wonder. How long will she continue to be such a dynamite little girl? The default setting of the world turns women into fearful, subservient beings. And it takes a little extra work to raise a bold, fearless girl.

Anyway, I digress as usual. I was talking about setting physical boundaries. Cotton came crying to me with tears in his eyes. He said Candy wasn’t letting him hug her. He had accidentally hurt her foot and was feeling guilty. He told me he said sorry to her but he also wanted to hug her. I told you, he is a darling child.

But Candy made it very clear that she did not want to be hugged. I told Cotton to respect that. If she doesn’t want to be hugged, he can’t keep asking her for one or forcefully give her one. No means no, remember? I went over this concept for the nth time. If someone does not want to be touched, you can’t touch them. Not even your sister. Not even if you have the best intentions. There are no two ways about this. No means no. Period.

He, as usual, was struggling to grasp this. He told me he lets Candy sit on his back whenever she pleases. That is true. She practically rides him. And he lets her. Fair point. I told him he could tell her he doesn’t want to indulge her. He can say no too. And she has to respect that.

A common scene around here. Please ignore Candy’s very stained sleeves.

But he said he has no problem when she does that. Then why should she have a problem when he takes similar liberties. Okay, I told him that sometimes he may be okay being touched by someone. That does not translate to that person being okay with being touched by him. Always ask first. Consent is very important. Of course, I do try to balance our view points by asking Candy why she thinks it is reasonable to expect certain privileges when she isn’t willing to return them. This is all about such a fine balance.

Consent is something Mint and I try to model to them. We ask them first if we can kiss them. Even if we don’t, we stop the moment we see the slightest sign of protest or discomfort. No means no is a statement we explain and repeat so many times. The rules apply to us too.

Of course, they still don’t get it. We once heard Candy telling Cotton, “No, I don’t want to share this with you. No means no”. We told her that is not how this works. And we explained again the concept of consent. From our part, we make sure there is a lot of dialogue and conversation about this subject. And even though they don’t get it in its entirety now, someday I hope they will.

7 Responses to “No means no”

  1. Seema said

    All I can say is that you are absolutely on the right track. They may not get it today but they will imbibe these values and continue to uphold them and even standup for them as they grow up. Mantam are very vocal and firm with their NO’s and equally respectful when they are on the receiving end and it goes back to repeating the phrase and practising what we preach since their childhood.

  2. Such good parenting skills and respect for that, in asking the kids if you can kiss them. It’s important to inculcate the habits creating equality since childhood. I enjoy reading this post.

  3. Visha said

    I loved how you have articulated what you practice in real life. There is a page on Instagram named ‘biglittlefeelings’ which deals with children’s feelings and I could feel your and their views same!
    Cotton sounds like someone I want to meet and observe some day ❤️

    • Pepper said

      Oh I just checked out their page after you mentioned it and realised almost every mommy on IG I know is following them! Haha,, wonder why I haven’t checked them out earlier. Though I still don’t know how much of help they will be to me You on IG? Do you follow a lot of child related pages?

      • Visha said

        Yep they are quite popular in the parent world 🙃 The stuff they say we have been following in our parenting journey so kinda feels good to be validated 😆 I found about them when I was seeing a story of a food blogger. I don’t follow any specific child related pages because there are just.so.many 🤯 i search by tags if I am looking for something in particular

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