My Dad passed away several years ago. I think of him every Father’s Day, but this year I thought about one particular lesson he taught me about consent. To celebrate, I thought I’d share it with everyone.
My Dad was a high school teacher. One evening, when I was about 8-years-old, he sat me down with my two sisters, who are one year older and one year younger than me. He explained that he was having an old retired teacher friend come for a visit to the house that evening. He shared that the man was recently widowed and that his grandchildren lived far away. My Dad’s friend loved children and missed his family very much and was a little lonely now with his wife gone, too.
Then my Dad said this: “when you come to kiss me goodnight, if you feel comfortable giving my friend a hug good-night, it would probably make him happy. BUT – you do not have to do that, and I will NOT be disappointed at all if you choose not to.”
I remember at that young age being struck that the conversation happened, but only realized as I got older that it was a valuable lesson around consent that he taught me, and one I have remembered throughout my life.
So Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for giving me the gift of respect and understanding consent and may it live on.