How many movies from the 80s and 90s, and probably a lot earlier too, was there a character that every time they visited their friend's kids or their grandkids, they placed a huge, lipstick stained kiss on the unwilling child? I mean, it has to be at least 1.2 million movies, give or take.
Today's society is all about consent but it has more to do with sexual consent and not much else. It is absolutely important, no, necessary, for people to get consent when wanting to be intimate with someone. At the same time, I think it is also necessary when it comes to hugs or other displays of affection from family members or friends.
I do get it though. I want my nephew to know that I love him and that I am a safe person to be around, and a hug seems like a simple way for me to show that. But he does not OWE me that. HE gets to be the one to choose whether or not he wants a hug no matter if he's 2 or 20. And if we get stuck in this culture of saying that polite manners include hugging people regardless of if you like them, because your parents do so you have to too, I think we are going to run into problems later in the child's life regarding safe and unsafe touches.
And although I absolutely want my kids to love and respect each other, I also don't require them to hug each other. For example, if R bumps into M he first needs to ask if she's okay. After that, instead of telling him to give her a hug, he can ask if she wants a high five, fist bump or a hug, if he wants to offer it. This gives M a choice of what she can pick that they have both agreed is comfortable or she can say no, that she doesn't want any of those options.
So when my kids walk into church or are at a party with family, I encourage them to smile and say hello, but if they do not want to shake the greeters hand or hug a relative, that is 100% okay with me. And oftentimes, after a few more interactions with family and friends, my kids see that these people are people they can trust and then choose open up to them.
To wrap up, I've learned two things. First, from a parent perspective, I don't want to force my kids to hug someone just because I know them. Second, from a family/family friend perspective, if a kid is not ready to hug you, don't take it personally. If the relationship is important to both of you, odds are a genuine hug or high five could be in your very near future :)
Hi, I'm Rebecca
I’m a wife, mom to 5 kids, former choir teacher, Christian and advice giver? I can honestly say I never expected to be the one giving advice when I so frequently ask for it, but the advice I’ve received is so valuable and must be shared! Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far!