You are holding your toddler in your arms as you walk to the front door. The doorbell has just rung, and you open it to let your parents in. They have just driven hours through snowdrifts to see you and they want to hold their grandchild.
But your child has tightened her grip on your arm and doesn’t want to go to the people who have just walked in the front door.
Yeah, I understand, you are embarrassed. Your child doesn’t want to hug, so you try and make them. They don’t know the people. But, you do. You want your child to obey, so you make them hug their grandparents, or their Aunt, or the Uncle, or your best friend from college.
You have not taught your child to be obedient, you have taught your child that their body is not their own. You have taught them to not trust their own feelings about what touch to allow or not allow.
You have taught them to not say no if an adult wants to touch them. You have taught them that someone else’s feelings are more important than their own.
I was molested when I was seven by a man we called Uncle Carl. I didn’t know I should have said no.
My childhood experience affected how I parent my own children.
When my daughter was three her grandparents came to visit us. They flew from Minnesota to California. They saw their granddaughter once a year. When we went to the zoo, her grandmother, my mother-in-law, wanted to push the stroller.
When I gave the stroller to Nana to push, my daughter turned around and said, “No. Mama do.”
I let my daughter decide who pushed her stroller. I risked offending my mother-in-law.
This wasn’t about being obedient, this was about my daughter being in control of her personal space.
Let your child decide who they hug.
Don’t make them give hugs.Teach them their body is their own. Teach them to say no.Don't make your children give hugs. Teach them to say no. Click To Tweet
Twenty-four years ago I met my nephew for the first time; he was two. He hid behind my brother and sister in law’s legs and didn’t come to me when I came in the house. He didn’t know me. They didn’t make him hug me.
He watched me from a distance the few days I was there. I lived in the United States and he lived in Canada.
The day I left, as my brother put my suitcase in the car to drive me to airport, he ran to me and hugged me. The hug was his idea, he chose to give me affection.
Your body is your own
Today is the day before Christmas. You might have company coming over, or you might be going to someone else’s house.
You might have kids, or you might not.
But one thing you do have. You have the right to say no.
If you don’t want to hug someone. Don’t.
Children grow up to be adults who think they can’t say no.
Click Here to comment. I always love to hear from you.
p.s. That is a photograph of me missing a tooth.