Babies can't consent. Period.
Today in Things That Are Good Intentioned But Missing The Mark Entirely, Deanne Carson, founder of Body Safety Australia and “consent expert,” says we ought to be asking babies for consent to change their diaper.
According to Ms. Carson, that would look something like this:
"'I'm going to change your nappy now, is that okay?' Of course a baby isn't going to respond, 'Yes mum that's awesome, I'd love to have my nappy changed.' But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye-contact then you're letting that child know that their response matters.”
Do you have children?
Have you ever tried to change the diaper of an active nine-month-old?
Read: Have you ever had to straddle the body of an active nine-month-old to forcibly change their rancid-with-the-acidic-poop-of-teething diaper while they screamed bloody murder at you?
If you answered “no,” then you either A. don’t have kids, B. have never babysat, or C. have an unusually docile child — for which I both congratulate and loathe you.
I’m not saying kids don’t have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies from birth, I’m just saying a lot of kids would rather walk around in a rancid-with-the-acidic-poop-of-teething diaper than “consent” to its replacement. Kids don’t understand the things that they need; if they did they’d change their own diaper and choose a roasted sweet potato over an Oreo. But that’s never going to happen. Why? Because kids don’t have the dexterity to change their own diapers and also Oreos are delicious.
They don’t know they are supposed to thank you for things like diapers and organic non GMO pesticide-free food instead of running/screaming/throwing (sometimes literal) shit at you.
You Might Also Like: How To Talk To Your Kids About Consent (At Any Age)
Further, I am saying that diapers have to be changed, and that if you ask for consent to change your baby’s diaper and they cry and run away, they’ve essentially said “no” and now what are you going to do? If you change their diaper anyway, you’ve ignored their lack of consent, you’ve violated them, and you’ve taught them that their opinion in the matter isn’t valid.
WHICH IT IS NOT.
See: walking around in a rancid-with-the-acidic-poop-of-teething diaper
And even FURTHER, it’s a dangerous proposition to suggest that a baby can consent to anything. If a baby at nine months of age can “consent” to a diaper change, can they also consent to having their genitals touched by a stranger?
No. That’s ABSURD. Right?
I’m not saying consent isn’t important. I’m just saying that a really big part of parenting is helping a small being who isn't yet capable of making important choices for themself survive to adulthood. You know, so they can make their own choices. Until then, we are charged with not just teaching them about consent and autonomy, but keeping them safe and healthy so they have a chance to develop that autonomy as they grow. Sometimes that involves changing their rancid-with-the-acidic-poop-of-teething diaper whether they like it or not.
Stop riding the tails of the #metoo movement by acting like a baby whose diaper is being changed is in some way violated. Instead, teach parents to narrate what they are doing and why.
For example: Hi, you wonderful little tyrant. I’m going to change your rancid-with-the-acidic-poop-of-teething diaper now. I know you don’t like this and I’m sorry that I have to LITERALLY sit on you to do it, but you’ll thank me later when your ass isn’t covered in blisters.
They will still scream probably try to run and maybe even kick you but they will thank you later.
Just kidding, no they won’t.