It is said that children start to develop their personalities between the ages of 2-6. Emmy-nominated actress Angela Bassett explained how she and her husband, fellow actor Courtney Vance, made respect part of their children’s personalities, teaching their 13-year-old twins, son Slater and daughter Bronwyn lessons on respect and consent from their childhood.
In October 2019, Bassett revealed that she was sexually assaulted while she was sleeping by her mother’s ex-boyfriend at 13-years-old, and how her mother subsequently kicked him out, which reassured and empowered young Bassett. “Fortunately, it wasn’t a complete assault, it was fondling, but it was devastating enough for a child who’s 12 or 13,” Bassett said. “And thankfully to have a mother who could tell as soon as light broke that this happened and for her to expel him…. That she heard me, believed me, and did something about it was so empowering for me as a young teen, as a young woman.” As a victim of sexual assault and a mother of two, Bassett made sure to teach her children about handling potential dangers; drilling lessons about consent into her children since they were two-years-old.
Bassett elaborated on her reasoning for teaching her children about consent: “I started that early because of experiences with friends and I know that they will be in situations one day,” Bassett said. “When a girl says no, both to him and to her, she means no. Back up. She has to say come here, kiss me.” On teaching her children age-appropriate lessons on boundaries, Bassett said: “Since they were very, very little you just give them enough information, then they adopt it and take it.”
Bassett recalled how she specifically got her son Slater to understand consent: “I used to say to my son when he’s wrestling with his sister — wrestling back and forth and trying to take her down — and she’d say, ‘Stop!’ and I’ll say, ‘When a girl tells you stop, stop. When a girl tells you no, she means no.’” Bassett says that Slater picked up on the lessons early, as she proudly recalled a trip to Mexico, where four-year-old Slater put his lessons into practice. “At four [years old, we were in] Mexico one time and I’m being harangued [by vendors]: buy a sarong, buy some jewelry, you want a churro?” she recalled. “And I [said] no, no thank you. And he looks at the man and says, ‘When a girl tells you no, she means no!'”