I Don’t Own My Child’s Body, on CNN
“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,” said Irene van der Zande, co-founder and executive director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit specializing in teaching personal safety and violence prevention. “This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’ “
After years of refusing to let my children cry it out, though, I realized that I was falling into my own version of seeing happiness as the only acceptable emotion. I didn’t want them to cry or be upset, and I felt as though allowing them to cry was wrong somehow. I wanted them to be happy all the time. It was so ingrained that I began to inadvertently communicate the idea to them that they *had* to be happy, even when that was unrealistic and inauthentic.