One mom is teaching her infant how to respect the human body in a unique way.
Before picking up her 6-month-old son, Raven, Nisha Moodley, a mother of one in San Francisco, always asks his permission. “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 wrote on Instagram on June 9, alongside a selfie of herself and Raven.
Moodley’s post earned nearly 600 likes and lots of support for her unorthodox parenting move from people who wanted to implement the practice in their own families, as well as others who simply thanked the mom for sparking the conversation.
“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 tells Yahoo Beauty. “I also want him to pay attention to his instincts, and forcing physical touch could interfere with that.”
Of course, because of his young age, Raven may not always comprehend his mom’s message or be able to convey his feelings, but Moodley says she can interpret her son’s body language. “There have been times where Raven has responded by reaching his arms out for a hug or turning his head or body away,” she says.
Moodley says that navigating social situations with friends and family have, on occasion, been tricky. “It’s asking myself how can I prioritize what feels right to me as a parent with social niceties, especially if some consider it rude to not hug,” says Moodley. “If Raven seems like he doesn’t want to be touched, I just explain to the person, ‘Give him a few minutes — he may just want mommy now.’”
According to Sharon Silver, a parenting expert and creator of the upcoming webinar Why Do I Yell and What Can I Do Instead?, Moodley is doing the right thing.
“This idea is part of the wonderful RIE parenting philosophy, which is essentially respecting a child’s timetable and allowing him or her to participate in the full range of experiences as the result of a decision,” Silver tells Yahoo Beauty. “It’s the underlying premise of positive parenting.”
As children grow, however, providing too many choices in general isn’t the best idea, notes Silver. “Some parents trap themselves because they don’t follow through on correcting behavior and wind up losing power,” she says. For example, with an older child, instead of saying, “Put on your shoes now” and forgoing an opportunity for the child to “find their own muscle of cooperation,” Silver suggests saying something like, ‘You have 10 minutes to put on your shoes any way you want — then, if you’re not ready, I’ll have to do it for you.’”
When an older child doesn’t want to be touched, Silver says a parent can also ask why. “Kids often tell you how they feel,” she says.
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