Before we get into the juicy details and I tell you my stance on this heated topic, let me ask you where you stand.
Do you force your children to give goodbye hugs, kisses, attention or love to people, EVEN after the child has expressed they do not want to? You can leave your comment at the end of this post.
Now, to begin with my two older children I can say that I did encourage that behavior, even after they said no, showed no interest, made a huge fuss…. Whatever their reaction was. Mainly because I am from the South and that is just the way it has always been. (insert eye roll)
However, much later I realized that deep down the main reason I forced the affection was I didn’t want the other person’s feelings to be hurt
Yes, instead of honoring what my children were telling me, I choose the feelings of another person over my own children.
Now fast forward several years later and along comes our surprise baby. By now I am older, and way wiser than when I was the first go around.
One takeaway that I learned in watching my other children grow up was when I allowed them to make decisions in a safe environment it gave them the power and courage to begin to trust themselves.
As they grew I began to listen to them more and less to what I thought was the “right” thing to do.
So in a nutshell, I feel that as a parent we should not force hugs and kisses from our children. And yes, this includes everyone, including myself some days. I would rather equip them with power to say No, than make them ever feel obligated.
Our children are looking to us for guidance and security, and when they say no, we should learn to respect that. We need to model the behavior that will support them even at a young age. This is a pivotal time in their life where they are learning trust. Not only in themselves but also us.
I understand that the other person’s feelings may be hurt and not feel loved at that moment. But by providing an environment where your children can watch you support their decision even at a small age not only builds trust between you, but also sets them up for believing in themselves.
In addition I believe it teaches the child that we respect their wishes and their bodies, therefore encouraging them to respect their own bodies and wishes.
Don’t we want to teach them to honor their body? Then why would we take away their choice at such a young age? Allow them to begin to learn how to make decisions, when you can still help keep them safe.
As adults we tend to think that everything has to have a reason behind it. Well unfortunately in this case sometimes, it is just as simple as being in a mood. Not wanting to stop playing to give hugs and kisses. Or maybe the child is feeling a weird vibe that day and doesn’t want to be touched. Encourage them to listen to what their body wants and needs.
Ultimately we should be focused more on how to raise children to be aware of what they are feeling, support that feeling, even if our feelings are hurt because we didn’t get a hug.