being a mom

One Mom Explains Why She Always Asks Permission Before She Picks Her Baby Up

By  | 

These days, more and more parents are understanding the importance of consent. Not only are they teaching their kids to about consent, they’re adjusting their own behaviors accordingly. I know when I was growing up, whatever mom and dad said or did was basically law. So if my mom wanted to brush my hair when I didn’t want to, or if my dad wanted to tickle me, I had no choice. But I’m breaking that cycle with my son, as are many others. And in an Instagram post, one mom explains why she asks her baby permission before picking him up.

Nisha Moodley is a women’s leadership coach and mother to a cute little boy named Raven. She’s also big on asking and getting consent. Case in point, one of her most recent Instagram images of her and her son. In it, Moodley tells it like it is.

View this post on Instagram

Since the moment he was born, we've always asked before we pick him up. I always feel for his "yes". Why? Because we want him to know that his body is his, and that others' bodies are theirs, and no one gets to make choices about someone else's body. . #lessonsinsovereignty #bornfree #endrapeculture . Sidenote: If you ever want to hold someone else's baby, my suggestion is to ask the parent, then ask the kid. It always touches my heart when someone takes a moment to connect with him and says "Can I hold you, dude?" . ADDENDUM: Thanks to everyone who has shared support & also those who don't agree, but are thoughtful & respectful. Unfortunately, hundreds of people have come here to call me nasty names & wish terrible things upon myself & my child. I'm not interested in engaging with that kind of immature, thoughtless vitriol; if you bring it, I will report + delete. I pray we learn to meet our fellow humans w/ curiosity & kindness. . This short post was followed by a 10 min interview with a very kind reporter, which was turned into a short article. It wasn't designed to be a piece of in-depth journalism. Most media isn't. A whole bunch of other media spun-off from that. I have spoken w/ no other reporters; no one has asked me questions or checked facts. . Some have assumed that I'd never touch my baby w/out his explicit consent. That's not what I'm saying. I love my son – I would never sit back & leave him in harm’s way. It’s my honor & responsibility to care for him in all the ways a mother would. . I also talk to him, ask him questions, and “attune” to him in the way that I think the majority of mothers do, intuitively. This is the beginning of a lifelong conversation about choice & consent. I believe that when children feel that they have *some appropriate* choice, it leads to a greater sense of healthy autonomy. I want him to make healthy choices with his body & respects others’ as well. . I am by no means saying that people are bad parents for not doing what I do. So long as we're not harming or neglecting our children, to each their own. I'm not a perfect parent. I'm simply working at being as loving & conscientious as I can be, every day.

A post shared by Nisha • Devotional Leadership (@nishamoodley) on

“Since the moment he was born, we’ve always asked before we pick him up. I always feel for his “yes”. Why? Because we want him to know that his body is his, and that others’ bodies are theirs, and no one gets to make choices about someone else’s body,” Moodley says in the post. She adds hashtags like #endrapeculture because that is, essentially, what she is hoping to do.

“I don’t ever want my son to be a sexual perpetrator or the victim of one, and the best thing I can do is honor his choices about his own body,” Moodley said in an interview with Yahoo Beauty.

In an article by the Atlantic, Laura Palumbo (a sexual violence prevention specialist) noted that teaching kids age-appropriate, anatomically correct terms for all body parts can help deter abuse. The odds are likely that also teaching kids to say yes or no and decide when and how they are touched would also help prevent abusers from harming children.

Plenty of parents responded kindly to Moodley’s post (which now has over 600 likes). Some might wonder how she’s able to actually get consent from her son, who is still so young. She says that she can read the boy’s body language, like reaching out if he wants to be held and turning away if he doesn’t.

View this post on Instagram

In many ways, the last 1.5 yrs have been tough for me. It started with the end of a 5 yr relationship, which kicked off an intense season of mourning. When I was finally feeling ready for my personal “springtime”, & started feeling myself coming back to life, I met Noah. After a short but exhilarating romance, we found out I was pregnant. The first trimester was…gah. Intense. During my pregnancy, I often found it very difficult to see things from a higher & more holistic perspective – something that's long been a point of personal pride & has helped me feel connected with myself, others & life. Upsetting things in my life and in the world just felt bad & wrong, & I struggled to find the peace that comes with seeing things from a broader & more integrated perspective. Because I was struggling, I often felt uninspired & un-creative. I remember sitting on the couch, eating ice cream at 2pm, crying about my lack of creativity to Noah. "I feel like the magic is broken! I just don’t feel like myself.” And I didn’t. I knew myself to be mostly creative, focused, optimistic, inspired, & able to shift my emotional states. I did not know the woman on the couch. Some very wise friends reminded me that it was natural that I felt lacking in outward creative flow; I was engaged in one of the most creative acts of humankind: making a baby. And while I could understand that rationale, I found it so difficult to be patient with the journey. I wanted to turn things around & make magic happen. But I was in a period of quiet & the more I fought the quiet, the more I struggled. Life was calling me to surrender into quiet space, to nest-in & learn to embrace the darkness more deeply, to learn to trust that life would not only support me, but also my child, to allow the muse to find me in her time, to allow creativity the space to flow. It was no longer my springtime; it was winter. The winters in our lives, when the last things have ended & the new things are yet to be, are powerful opportunities to trust that eventually, spring will come. The quiet times in life ask us to trust that space isn't simply fallow emptiness, but rather a fertile void. {more in comments}

A post shared by Nisha • Devotional Leadership (@nishamoodley) on

I’m totally not surprised by her method. Without actually saying it out loud to others, this is exactly what I’ve done from day one. And now that my son is a toddler, he is learning to ask to be picked up when he wants, asks for hugs, asks for kisses. Of course, there are some spontaneous ones when we’re both feeling cuddly, and that’s OK because that understanding and trust has been developed. The important thing is to establish it early, just like Moodley is doing.

(Image: Instagram / @nishamoodley)