I came across this CNN.com 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.