Forcing kids to give hugs and kisses to show respect is actually being disrespectful. Can you imagine that?
Every parent wishes their child to be polite as society dictates that sociable people are more likely to be adored than those who are not. For that, we would normally ask kids to give a kiss or a hug as a part of a long-observed tradition of greeting elders. But did we ever consider whether they really want to do it? Has anyone of us ever took the initiative to ask them if they are comfortable in giving free hugs and kisses to just about everyone?
This is a topic that Katia Hetter, a CNN feature writer who covers about parenting, dug into in an article she wrote. In her piece, she shared how she came to realize that her kids’ body are theirs and theirs alone.
Kids should be taught about consent and parents should know that they don’t own their kid’s body.
While teaching her then 4-year-old daughter about consent for the first time, she told her:
“I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.”
She tried to open up the world to the fact that even kids should take control of their own body, teaching them to learn to say “no” if they don’t feel like being touched by adults. She also pointed out that by training kids to protect their own body, sexual molestation against children may be prevented. Her post then earned numerous comments with several parents agreeing with her but still, some debated her opinion.
Some readers of Katia’s article shared their own insight about the topic while agreeing with her point.
But like any other controversial topics, some readers were quick to disagree with Katia’s point of view.
Irene van der Zande, an expert on personal safety and violence prevention, also shared her opinion about the article by writing:
“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt. 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.”
The article easily went viral and it was later reposted by the Facebook page Safe kids with a striking meme.
A meme was created to intensify the message of Katia Hetter on making kids in control of their own body.
A Mighty Girl later re-shared the story, making more parents reminded of Katia’s good point on consent.
Even at a very young age, children can already manage their own feelings. We can’t actually force them to give someone a kiss or a hug just to be nice if they don’t feel like doing it. It may look like being disrespectful, but we are actually helping them grow with self-consciousness in doing so.
Just like what Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician said:
“Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to, leaves them vulnerable to (potential) abusers.”
It is right that parents should teach their children good manners, but it is also correct that parents should not force them to do things they don’t like. Physical affection should always be given freely, besides there are other kind gestures that they can offer the elderly. We just have to trust our kids’ instincts and let them practice their own ways of respecting people.
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