Do you make your children hug Grandma?

I came across this article recently and knew instantly that I wanted to write about it. I don’t make my kids hug and kiss family members if they don’t want to. Though the correlations between doing so and sexual abuse or getting into situations like the kids in Jerry Sandusky’s care never really crossed my mind, I do relate to the rest of the article. And it has made be think about how a lifetime of being forced to be affectionate with relatives might skew the ability to distinguish between choosing to be affectionate and feeling like you HAVE to when put in a compromising position later in life.

Growing up, my family was not very affectionate. My grandparents are not, therefore my parents are not, therefore I am not (are you sensing a theme here?). However, my husband’s family is. They hug and kiss upon every hello and goodbye even if you just saw them yesterday. It’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with, but I go along with it…but it’s my body, so it’s my choice. I do not make my children give anyone hugs or kisses if they don’t want to. We do a lot of talking about manners and saying hello and goodbye to people, or answering their questions when they ask you something but I do not force them to do anything beyond that. Sometimes I know it causes a bit of static, particularly amongst the older relatives but I feel it’s important to let my children choose how they want to greet someone. Usually, they do choose to hug and kiss, but sometimes, when they don’t feel like it,  as long as they say goodbye and thank you, I’m satisfied.

How about you? Do you think it’s important that children hug and kiss their relatives?

This post originally ran on Mom to Mom.

13 thoughts on “Do you make your children hug Grandma?

  1. Michael, I am as shocked as you. I have never heard this. I was brought up in a family who always gave hugs hello/goodbye as well as in my husbands family. And since having our daughter we have been doing the same with her. She always gives hugs and says hello/goodbye to everyone she sees; family and friends.

    Earning hugs, I can’t imagine this and what lesson this is really teaching. I agree you should be showering them with affection from the time they are born. I think that in itself is a great lesson.

  2. Hello,
    I am a Father of two a girl 7 years old and a special needs son 9 years old. Since our children have been born I have held them and hugged them to show affection.

    I’m looking for some input from woman on hugging? I was in court at a hearing where it was addressed with evidence of children coming into a room, The Dad would kneel down to give a hug and the children would turn their backs on the Dad.. The special needs son is quoted when asked by the Dad why he’s doing this his answer was Its “Mom showing me pictures of people sitting on peoples laps”

    When the Judge asked the Mom what this was about she answered “You know your Honor” “Children need to earn hugs” I was like did I just hear this bizarre answer from the Mom. The whole court room was amazed and shocked at her answer.

    Unless I’m missing something do other woman use this technique to teach kids about hugging and affection. I understand about the topic and letting children go with what feels natural but to show pictures to change a loving behavior as in hugging.. Not normal in my opinion but again I’m a man looking for answers what better place than to ask other Moms.

    Thank You


  3. We are a hug and kiss family (many times we have to start the goodbyes 30 minutes before we actually want to leave because it TAKES THAT LONG!). I always grew up hugging and kissing (on the cheek) family, friends, and friends of family. My kids do the same, though if they really don’t want to they don’t have to. They also see the different way my hubby and I interact with different people, so I am not too concerned that they won’t know the difference when they are older. We shake hands with people we have never met (though most often hug and kiss by the end of a gathering) and we hug and kiss family and friends. To each their own, I think it is a very cultural thing for most people and no one should be hurt or offended if your kid doesn’t want to hug and kiss.

  4. It is actually my culture and husbands culture to greet with a kiss ( 1 on each cheek for husbands Portuguese family) (1cheek for my puerto rican family) and it is a must, its a sign of respect, that is our “hello” and “goodbye”. With Family it is usually a tight hug and actual kisses on cheeks, but mostly since we see each other everyday its a quick set of air kisses. With strangers (with in our culture, family friends etc.) it is also customary to greet with air kisses. When my daughter is much older (she is only 8months) to say hello to family that implication will be there to greet as above, anything less would be rude.

  5. Kris Ann it’s actually funny because my husband wasn’t as much as a Hugger as I was but after nine years he is a convert….lol

  6. I hug the stuffing out of my boys and am a hugger when I want to be. I’m just not the give a hug and a kiss every time you come and go person. My boys actually ask for hugs when they need/want them…and I’m glad they do. I’d rather they be more like my husband.

  7. I am not a very affectionate person and I don’t force my kids to be. They don’t have to give hugs or kisses to their relatives if they do not want to. I do expect them to be respectful and say hello upon entering and goodbye when leaving. To this day my mom nags me that I do not hug or kiss my grandma, I’m just not comfortable, never was. Though surprisingly I can hug and kiss my friends with no problem.

  8. This is tough. While I agree that kids need to come around to affection on their own terms I can also remember not wanting to hug my own grandparents as a child. They were older, my grandmother had cancer and smelled ‘sick’. I was at that age that it was gross to me, but my mother explained why grammie could not keep herself up like she used to and that it would mean a lot to her to get a hug. So, that being said I guess the question is Why don’t they want to hug? I think it is normal for kids to go through this phase. My baby is only 4 months so we haven’t crossed this bridge yet, but I don’t think I will force her to hug…..but maybe encourage 🙂

  9. From the older generation’s view, I am a grandmother. My grandsons are totally different, one is a hugger the other is not. I never force my rather stand-offish grandson to hug me goodbye, I kiss him goodbye on the top of his head or put some imaginary kisses on his shoulder to take with him. My youngest grandson has been hugging and patting me on the shoulder for months now and he is only 14 months old, so he gets hugs and pats from me. Old or young we are all individuals and its nice when we can respect each other’s comfort zone. Loved the post!

  10. I’m a Hugger and my whole family is! I think if you feel uncomfortable you shouldn’t but I don’t do on with the hugs lol! I do think it depends on your family and how it was generation to generation. I am curious to see how your boys will gravitate to since you are not, and the hubby is? Maybe perfectly in the middle 🙂

  11. I grew up like you, not very huggy/kissy, but married into a family that is. And like you, I deal with it. I do ask my boys to give hugs and kisses and so far they haven’t resisted. I guess if they said they didn’t want to, I wouldn’t make them. Thanks for this post as it makes me think about it.

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