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Talking About Consent With My Son

Talking About Consent With My Son

I always just sort of assumed I’d raised a boy who would respect women and their boundaries; my husband and I love each other and model respect to them through our marriage, and we treat the kids with respect, as well.

When the Stanford Rapist Who Can Also Swim story started emerging, though, I began to question myself. My son is 15. Have we ever directly addressed the sticky situations that can come up? Does he truly understand consent? “Yes!” my heart tells me. “He’s kind and gentle and loving, of course he does!” And then my brain says, “slow yo roll, mama. What harm will a direct conversation do?”

Oh, brain. You give such sensible advice sometimes. So we watched a video together and talked about it.

We talked about making sure a woman who is incapacitated is safe. We talked about sticky situations for boys, like her agreeing but being so drunk, she may not remember it (this is a red light, if there was any confusion). He said, “Mom, it’s basically treat others as you hope they’d treat you, right?” And I got to say, “Well, yeah. Yeah, son, that’s right.”

We talked about how horrible the father’s letter was and how he totally discounted the victim, and what a pervasive problem that is today and how we can be part of the solution.

You guys, it was a good, non-awkward, important talk. I’m so glad we had it. I don’t expect him to be sexually active anytime soon, but it’s easier to set the right behaviors in motion early instead of trying to repair broken people.

I vow to do everything in my power to mold a son who is never Brock Turner, but who instead is ready to be Carl-Fredrik Arndt or Peter Jonsson, the brave graduate students who immediately intervened and testified.

Watch Tea Consent. Maybe it’s a little simple, but it offers a great jumping-off point for discussion.

Alyson English thumbABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alyson English is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and online outlets, including Self, ESPN the Magazine, Pregnancy Magazine,, and She lives in Huntsville with her husband and two kids.



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