July 2017 Moms
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Children & Forced Affection

edited December 2016 in July 2017 Moms
This might be slightly controversial (not sure if a **TW** is necessary for the reference/implication of possible abuse) and I am not sure if this belongs somewhere else, but I find this article really interesting: 
https://www.cnn.com/2012/06/20/living/give-grandma-hug-child/

While I think this article is maybe slightly 'over the top' or bias, I think it has some strong points. Children have very little control over their lives, but I definitely think they should have control over to whom they show physical affection. I think this is something that I never would have even thought of if I wouldn't have read this article, but I will now definitely think twice before forcing my child to hug relatives.

Just figured I would share and see if anyone else has thoughts either for or against. 
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Re: Children & Forced Affection

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    I've read this article and several other similar ones. We don't ever make DD hug anyone...including us. At night we always ask for a hug and kiss before bed. Every now and then she says no. If no, we usually say something like ok, maybe tomorrow then. When we leave friends and family I always say we are leaving do you want to give so and so a hug? Sometimes she says yes and sometimes no. The only thing I make her say is thanks for having me, because manners.

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    The article is kinda off putting. A bit too extreme but I think our kids belong to themselves. So I wouldn't force them. I actually hate hugging people unless it's my husband or a really good friend I hadn't seen in a while. So yea, they don't have to hug anyone. 
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    Well I agree the article is a little over the top. The issue of not forcing hugs and kissing is a great topic. I have mixed feeling about this.  We try to always ask ds for hug or kiss and if he declines we just leave it be not say anything. Relatives don't force either, luckily! I personally believe that's the way it should be. 

    However - I HATE hugging people, especially anyone outside dh, parents and in laws. I went to a funeral for dh friend recently and all the family wanted to hug. The first two people I reached my hand out to shake and they still came in for the hug. How do you handle those situations yourself and with children. Idk I don't have an answer, just what I thought of. 
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    @flipflopped exactly. I think parents often tell their children to hug others to teach manners, but I agree there are other ways to show respect/manners. 

    @plumpous & @morgarita - totally agree this article is definitely on the extreme end of the discussion. I was more using it to just bring up the topic. There are lots of other articles out there on this topic as well. But yes, as an adult I think it's slightly different because we can typically differentiate between when it's OK to ignore your own feelings and give affection to please someone else (like in the funeral example) and when it's not OK. Children don't have that logic/reasoning yet. Plus as an adult we can abstain from showing affection without getting in trouble. haha
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    I've read stuff similar to this, and I completely agree with the idea of letting kids decide if they want to hug or kiss. Teaching them bodily autonomy (and that no one can touch them without their permission) is more important than the politeness of not hurting someone's feelings. When they get older and can easily differentiate between a harmless hug from an aunt (even if they don't want one) and something that is actually dangerous to them, then you can rework the conversation. But when they're little, no should mean no, and you don't want them to get used to being uncomfortable but saying nothing to someone else touching them. Too many kids get abused, mostly by people they know. 
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    we are also a super affectionate family - my husband is a huge hugger/cuddler and so are my girls. I didn't grow up the same way so I'm not as affectionate. I remember hating giving my grandparents hugs goodbye buy always being forced so for that reason only I never force my kids to give hugs.

    Just the other night we were out to dinner and my 6 year old kept getting up to hug the waiter and when we left we ran into a student of mine and she hugged him too. My kids are huggers.
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    My daughter is a hugger. She hugs people without being prompted. I understand the points the article is trying to make but I think it's a bit over the top. I will force my children to hug their grandparents whether they like it or not. This can be an UO but I think saying that it crosses a line of no longer being autonomous of their body is a bit much. Hug your grandparents, damnit. They're not here for long 
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    I see nothing wrong with making my kids hug close friends and relatives.  I don't like when people make their kids give kisses but hugs are fine.  I wouldn't make them hug someone they don't know well but ya you are giving your grandma a hug dude.
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    I don't like hugging anyone besides my husband and son. I won't be making my son kiss or hug anyone without him wanting to. 
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    I tell dd to hug the daycare ladies when we leave. She does it every day in a very specific order too. I don't force her, but I remind her. If she says no then whatever, we leave. When she gives most people hugs she just stands there and leans into them and wants them to hug her. We are an affectionate family and hug and kiss her all day long. I think this article is completely over the top. When dd is older and understands and can make decisions for herself then I'll let her decide, unless it grandparents and great grandparents, then she doesn't have a choice. 
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    Assuming one wouldn't let their child hug a parent who was abusive in the past, grandma will not be grouped with randoms who don't matter and couldn't care if they got a hug or not. A well loved and respected grandma will be hugged. I agree whole heartedly about other people, but grandma is different. The title of the article is purposefully contentious and made to rile people up. I really dislike headlines like that, it just feels like click bait, though the article was actually good.  
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    I'm a first time mom so no prior experience, but I too thought the article was thought provoking but taking it way too far. My family is very affectionate, husband's too. Also aunts/uncles/cousins grandparents to me are a completely different level to friends. I hopefully won't have to force my child, I kind of assume since everyone in the family is a hugger, they will be a hugger too :) 
    but the points about body autonomy that the article brings up are certainly important to consider. 
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    I don't think this article is over the top at all. We are a very affectionate family and my daughter and I are constantly showing affection and hugging and kissing. But sometimes she just doesn't want to hug DH or grandma etc for whatever reason and really, it's not up to her to make grandma or dh feel better with her body and actions. She doesn't need to "be polite" and give anyone a hug because it satisfies them. I don't ever want her to think submitting to a hug or a kiss to appease someone is ever okay. 
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    GoogleMD said:
    I think when you force a kid to hug family members it tells them that they must yeild their body to an adult. while hugging the grandparents is no biggie it can also leave them more vulnerable to abuse. I want my child to know that he can say no any affection, touching or hugging. My son is 13 months and we ask for kisses. my mom tries to force him to give her kisses and I have to remind her that he said no.
    How is this different than forcing a kid to lay down and take a nap when they say no? I realize maybe that analogy isn't the best, but little kids are socialized in a million ways, through making them do things "with their bodies" that they don't want to do. Put your coat on. Wear your mittens. Keep your hat on. Go to bed. I anticipate a health argument, but affection is good for family health and social health. 

    Not trying to start an argument, just working through in my head where the line is. 
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    @satsumasandlemons it's just over the top in how it directly relates forced affection to the child not stopping sexual assault. 

    @virginiaunicorn11 I totally get your thought process. That's a good thinking point that broadens the topic. 
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    As always you say what I'm thinking in a much more cohesive thought process @virginiaunicorn11
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    edited December 2016
    @virginiaunicorn11 I think the difference is that a child being 'forced' to wear a coat or take a nap doesn't open them up to possible assault/abuse. And like you said, those things are essential to the child's health/well-being. Also, instructions like that typically come from the parent, versus an aunt/uncle, friend etc. 

    I think the point that a lot of people may be missing is that this article or the idea as a whole isn't saying children shouldn't hug or kiss people. It's just saying it should be their choice. I will not be forcing my child to show affection, but I believe that my child will have a relationship with the people that are important to DH and I and will choose to give that affection freely. 

    ETA - I appreciate the healthy debate/discussion!
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    edited December 2016
    @morgarita but as parents we are teaching our children that in some areas (in this case, pleasing older relatives), they do not have consent rights. 

    i can see this translating not only to sexual assault but also, say, teen relationships and being pressured to do more because a teen doesn't want to hurt the other's feelings or feels like they just need to go just a bit farther because it's expected of them. 

    Anyways just wanted to throw in an agreement with the article! You do you, but hopefully no one thinks my daughter is rude if she doesn't show affection! 
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    @satsumasandlemons I'm not saying there isn't a connection between forced affection and sexual assault. I just feel this article makes a dramaticically quick jump between them.  Both issues are strong enough to discuss on their own but I choose to focus on forced affection. 
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    We don't make our kids give hugs to anyone they don't want to. If they seem shy at the idea of a hug we ask them to say "thank you for having me" and give high fives. Often after a high  five they run back for a hug. Both sets of grand parents have never made a big deal about hugs, especially when we/they first arrive. Generally my kids are pretty good about hugs, but it is always a choice. They also have all been taught correct anatomy terms and use them appropriately. My 17month twins only say a handful of works and penis and vagina are among them.  
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    That's a huge pet peeve of mine -- not teaching anatomically correct words for genitalia. I have ADULT patients coming in saying weird slang words for vagina and becoming bashful at the word. 

    again, I understand the point about forced affection and if adults are telling you to do something then the gateway for assault etc etc, I just don't agree that making a child give hugs/affection to people is a direct correlation. There are many other factors that tie into that issue, ie a constant open dialogue about what is appropriate, what isn't, and places no one should be touching no matter what. 
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    I ask my 14 month old for kisses and hugs, but don't push it if she shakes her head no. I also have never even thought to tell her to hug or kiss a relative or friend when they come or go from our home. We say hello, goodbye, thanks for coming, I love you etc, but physical affection will be up to her, as she feels comfortable (for any of my kids that is). 

    And I see many comments in here saying things about giving hugs to Grandma, and I have to say, one of my dearest friends was sexually abused by her grandmother and aunt throughout her childhood. So in my mind, ANYONE is capable of abusing your child, and while there is nothing wrong with affection, it's okay for kids to reject hugs and kisses. I wouldn't push that on my kids no matter what, but that's just my preference.
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    That's a huge pet peeve of mine -- not teaching anatomically correct words for genitalia. I have ADULT patients coming in saying weird slang words for vagina and becoming bashful at the word. 

    again, I understand the point about forced affection and if adults are telling you to do something then the gateway for assault etc etc, I just don't agree that making a child give hugs/affection to people is a direct correlation. There are many other factors that tie into that issue, ie a constant open dialogue about what is appropriate, what isn't, and places no one should be touching no matter what. 
    Actually, I have to agree with you. I admittedly didn't read the article, just comments here.

    But no, I don't think making kids give hugs and kisses directly correlates to possible abuse...that isn't very balanced thinking.

    I just don't force hugs and kisses because I feel that there are other ways to show kindness and respect, and it's not necessary to force my kids to show physical affection to anyone.

    My husband comes from this huge Mexican family and it is absolutely expected that you hug, kiss, and individually greet each person at a party or event. My family is not that way, we hug after long absences only haha! 
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    I don't mind hugging and kissing my Mom's family as I'm a lot closer with them but I hate  doing it with my Dad's extended family (great Aunts & Uncles).  And yes, it feels forced.  I feel like most of them would consider it rude if I didn't and I'm 28 FFS!   I don't think my parents ever forced me to hug anyone though.  I really can't remember. 

    I've read similar articles before and agree, to an extent.  I don't think it specifically correlates to abuse but it should be their choice.  I was just at my niece's 1st birthday this weekend and as far as I can recall, I said to my nephew, "Are you going to give me a hug and a kiss?"  I'm thankful that I didn't just walk up and do it.  He's a cuddle monster though so I don't ever anticipate him saying no, but if he did, I'd be cool with that.  

    That said, my children will absolutely have a choice and I think forcing them to hug and/or kiss anyone, even Grandparents, is just wrong.  And it's not the same as forcing them to sleep, eat their food, put their toys away etc.    
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