Is this father wrong for letting his children refuse hugs and kisses from family members? In a recent Reddit “Am I The A**hole?” thread, a father wrote that his grandmother recently visited the family and was angry that his children did not hug or kiss her when she left.
“My wife and I agreed we wouldn’t force our kids to hug or kiss anyone because we want to teach appropriate physical boundaries and ownership of your body from an early age,” the father wrote.
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Is This Father Wrong for Letting His Children Refuse Hugs and Kisses from Family Members?
However, his sister later told him that his grandmother expressed her disappointment that the children didn’t hug or kiss her goodbye, leaving him to wonder if he had done the right thing.
The overwhelming response by Reddit users was that, yes, he had made the right choice.
“Nobody is owed affection, period. Let the kid decide if they want to wave, shake, fist bump, hug, air kiss, kiss, whatever, with no pressure or obligation,” one user wrote.
“NTA [not the a**hole] so hard,” said another. “Forcing children to let adults touch and kiss them or forcing them to touch and kiss adults on request is a behavior child predators will happily exploit. You’re teaching your child that it is in fact wrong to demand a child touch or be touched when they don’t want to be. And that is a good thing.”
The Reddit community is not alone in feeling this way. In fact, The Girl Scouts of America recently put out an article entitled, “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays.”
“Telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she ‘owes’ another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life,” the article states.
And we agree! So Reddit Dad, don’t worry: you’re teaching your kids the right way. Your family will just have to get used to it.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.