Im a mum – parents should get their kids consent to sit on Santas lap

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    One mum has urged parents not to force kids to sit on Santa's lap this Christmas and said they should seek consent.

    Katie Love's recommendation comes after she spotted daughter Adley Martin, three, was nervous while queuing to see Santa. The mum said she knew it was about sitting on the big guy's lap.

    She used her daughter's visit as a “teachable moment” about consent and respecting boundaries. She urged Adley to speak up and say "no" if she didn't want to do something.

    READ MORE: Mum praised for teaching toddler son 'consent' while changing his nappy

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    And Adley turned down the opportunity to sit on Santa’s knee – despite worries she may not get the bike she desperately wanted.

    Santa told the tot he admired the way she “stood up for herself” – and said she should continue to say “no” if she wants to, even to people like Santa Claus.

    Katie, 35, says she regularly teaches her about bodily autonomy. The mum, who is a CEO of a social media agency, from Miami, Florida, said: “Toddlers should be able to use ‘no’ as a full sentence. Boundaries and bodily autonomy are extremely important to us as a family – and consent is such an important topic, even for a three-year-old.”

    Katie took Adley to see Santa on December 10, at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami. But as they were queuing up, she noticed the tot looking nervous – despite feeling excited about meeting him for “weeks”.

    She wasn’t sure how Adley would react once it was her turn – but reassured her she didn’t have to sit on his lap if she didn’t want to. “Adley was definitely nervous,” Katie said. “But she was super excited – she’d been talking about it for weeks.

    “I think she's so little, and she saw all those other kids – it made her nervous. I said to her, ‘you don’t have to sit on his lap – you can say no,’ thinking, you never know with toddlers.

    “She told me ‘no’ – but I could tell she was worried she wouldn’t get the purple bike she’d been asking for.”

    Once it was Adley’s turn – she told Santa she didn’t want to sit on his lap, and he praised her for it. In a video recorded by Katie, he said: “This is her body – she’s in control of her body. I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap, and she said ‘no’ – I said, way to stand up for yourself.

    “You can’t let even Santa Claus – if Santa Claus says ‘do you want to sit on my lap?’ – if you don’t want to, you say no.”

    Katie felt relieved by the exchange, and thankful to ‘Santa’ for taking the extra time out to talk to her. She said: “For Santa to affirm her and say thank you for expressing yourself – I mean, there was a line full of kids. I never expected him to take those five minutes.”

    Katie and her husband, stay-at-home dad Aaron Martin, 36, have spent almost all of Adley’s life teaching her about consent. From teaching her it’s okay to say “no” to a hug, to not allowing people to touch her in uncomfortable areas, the pair believe toddlers’ boundaries should be respected like anyone else’s.

    But this hasn’t always been welcomed by the rest of their family. “If she doesn’t want to hug family members – even mummy and daddy, that’s okay,” said Katie. “If a family member comes over and says ‘give me a hug’ – she doesn’t have to say yes.”

    “But that has sometimes been hard for the rest of our family. I think there’s a fine line and we really try to walk it – she has control over her body, but we don’t want to scare her by teaching her that everybody in the world is going to try and take advantage.

    “Adley is so affectionate by nature, as well, which is almost sweeter, because if she’s hugging you it means she really wants to.”

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    • Parenting
    • Santa Claus
    • Christmas
    • Family

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