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To bring this up? ** non-graphic discussion of abuse**

(51 Posts)
jayisforjessica Mon 26-Dec-16 06:10:27

This popped up on my Facebook feed tonight. It's an article about a meme, depicting a five year old girl, with the words "I am 5. My body is my body. Don't force me to kiss or hug. I am learning about consent and your support on this will help me keep myself safe for the rest of my life."

The article details more about the thought process behind the creation of the meme, via quotes from its creator, and goes on to talk about how polarizing it has apparently been. There are comments from both sides for contrast.

Meme and discussion are here

AIBU to ask you all what you think? I have to be honest, this is a touchy subject for me because my son has experienced having his boundaries ignored. My ex-DP and I always took a similar stance to the meme's creator.

I just have a lot of feelings about this meme and want to talk about it and people here are pretty good about getting stuck into a conversation, haha.

user1477282676 Mon 26-Dec-16 06:16:12

I've always felt strongly that people telling their DC to kiss or hug relatives is downright weird...especially when they don't want to.

I had to tell my old neighbour to stop telling her DD to "Give Uncle Tom a hug by bye"

When she was speaking about my DH frankly didn't want to hug her child...they were good neighbours and we were all friendly but it made DH very uncomfortable....and me!

She was nonplussed...I explained about body autonomy and helping children to learn about their bodies are their own....she got it in the end.

I think it was because she was young and that was how she'd been brought up.

fessmess Mon 26-Dec-16 06:21:32

I think that a child's right to choose who they kiss and hug trumps somebody else's feelings. Even if it is Gran.

jayisforjessica Mon 26-Dec-16 06:24:45

I read a comment I liked: "Grooming starts small as a way of normalising the behaviour so that the child feels they can't object to the behaviour despite it making them feel uncomfortable."

I agree with that so strongly!!

user1477282676 Mon 26-Dec-16 06:27:40

Yes. I had a neighbour who used to open his window and give me sweets when I was about 9....then after awhile, he began asking me for a kiss.

Dirty old bastard.

Luckily I was a strong kid and from then on in, I would look the other way and stroll past his window as he fruitlessly called me.

Pineapplemilkshake Mon 26-Dec-16 09:05:09

I hate to see children being asked to kiss or hug everyone goodbye at family events, I remember having to do this as a child and I hated it. I have always tried to explain to my DS that he doesn't have to let anyone touch him if he doesn't want to. My SIL makes her 2 year old DD kiss everyone, and I always cringe a bit when I can see how her child hates it.

Birdsgottafly Mon 26-Dec-16 09:16:58

I totally believe this, I'm 48.

This tends to go on longer with little girls than boys and feeds into us being people pleasers and having issues with setting our own boundaries and feeling responsible for how other people are feeling.

Man10 Mon 26-Dec-16 11:26:41

I think complex justifications are over-thinking it. The default should be to respect what someone wants (even if they are three years old) unless there's a good reason to override them. Making an adult feel good at the expense of a child is not a good reason.

Having said that, asking a child to hug someone isn't necessarily a command to do something they don't want to. It could be a request or suggestion they are happy with. Child may be happy to hug their mother, but not their mother's friend.

Wheredidallthejaffacakesgo Mon 26-Dec-16 11:37:49

Like all things, this meme is fine if not applied with too much zeal. I expect my children to greet adults (good morning, good afternoon, hello, goodbye) and respond politely to greetings. I expect them to shake hands when appropriate and to greet relatives with a kiss on the cheek. My middle child isn't confident about shaking hands and rather than saying "that's okay, if you're not comfortable with it you can stare at your shoes and offer a flaccid hand", I have encouraged him to practice shaking hands until he is more comfortable. It is in our culture to greet people in this way, and I am doing my children no favours if I don't teach them to be able to fit in with it.

mamatiger83 Mon 26-Dec-16 11:43:39

I think children should be made aware that their body belongs to them and them alone.
Of course affection is lovely and I love hugs and kisses from my children and my nieces and nephews when they choose to give them to me. For example, xmas yesterday one of my nieces was all over me kisses and cuddles she is happy with that, another niece was content to just say hi, a hug would have been lovely but she didn't want one and I wouldn't force it, I would hate to HAVE to hug someone if I didn't want to.
My ds will hug anyone, he's very open, my dd is a little more selective and doesn't like to hug (except me).
I think this is fine as it is their choice and they both understand that nobody is allowed to touch without their permission.

Wolfiefan Mon 26-Dec-16 11:44:31

I don't think it's ok to force kids to kiss relatives or to hug people. They should have autonomy over their own bodies. Kissing is very intimate and physical displays of affection make some people uncomfortable. My kids have a choice over what happens to their bodies.

Cryingandmorecrying Mon 26-Dec-16 11:53:58

This is interesting for me, as I had literally never thought about it. I was brought up kissing older family members that I would rather had not. My DDs have never voiced that it makes them uncomfortable, but I'm not sure I force them too. We talk about keeping themselves safe etc, but I guess unless it's happened to you and worried you or become abusive it's possible not to have thought about it

jayisforjessica Mon 26-Dec-16 12:17:21

I expect them to shake hands when appropriate and to greet relatives with a kiss on the cheek.

But what if they don't want to? That kiss should be their choice, not yours. I just don't think you should get to decide how physically affectionate another person is with their body - even if that person is three. Even if you happened to give birth to that person.

I absolutely agree with expecting manners, and expect some class of a greeting. I absolutely oppose "expecting" children to kiss anyone they don't want to kiss, even if it's a relative, and even if only on the cheek. "Give granny a kiss or she'll be sad" or "Give Uncle Joe a hug, we've talked about this, do you want to lose screen time?" sets a child up for "well, no means no, except when no would make the other person sad or angry".

RichardBucket Mon 26-Dec-16 12:30:08

I agree with you and the meme, OP. I'd never force a child to hug or kiss someone, and I don't think that's failing to set them up for life.

SunshineInTheRain Mon 26-Dec-16 12:30:54

Totally right op. No child should be forced to hug, kiss or shake hands (or hold hands unless it's a safety issue) Forcing ( by teaching them this is a necessary custom) is not healthy. Children can learn these things are the norm by watching parents do them, yet still be free to decline because their bodily autonomy is being respected.

SunshineInTheRain Mon 26-Dec-16 12:33:35

I also don't think it's healthy to teach them to allways do as adults tell them without questioning them either. The 'because I'm an adult and I say so' leaves kids at risk. Kids should be free to question this, a parent or teacher can explain that something is the rule because of safety or because we consider others feelings or whatever is the logical reason. The idea a child should do as elders tell them is not a helpful lesson.

CalmItKermitt Mon 26-Dec-16 12:35:56

Wheredid - I completely disagree.

All I expect from my DCs is a polite greeting. I think it's wrong to force them to kiss anyone.

Boundaries Mon 26-Dec-16 12:37:32

Luckily I was a strong kid and from then on in, I would look the other way and stroll past his window as he fruitlessly called me.

With respect, user, avoiding childhood abuse is nothing to do with how "strong" you are.

OP - I agree with you. Your body is your body. End of. Good manners mean saying hello, manners are also important, but feeling you can't say no to something out of politeness? Not ok.

user1477282676 Mon 26-Dec-16 12:42:45

* Boundaries* I have to say....we're discussing BOUNDARIES experience was MINE and MINE alone.

Many children wouldn't have the nerve to ignore an older man calling them repeatedly.

So I was strong to do so.

That was MY experience and I won't have you disrespecting it and denying what I went though.

Boundaries Mon 26-Dec-16 12:45:57

Apologies if that is what you took from my post, user. I certainly wasn't denying your experience.

But many, many people suffer/ed abuse in childhood, and any implication that they could have stopped it by being "stronger" needs challenging.

SunshineInTheRain Mon 26-Dec-16 12:54:27

Agree with boundaries. It sounds victim blamey to suggest,even indirectly, the strength has anything to do with a child being abused or not. The shame of it should have been stronger/not as stupid or guilble/not as people pleasing is what often stops victims speaking up.

user1477282676 Mon 26-Dec-16 12:55:26

I never said THEY could have stopped theirs.

I won't be called a victim blamer! I am not. I stand by my ascertian that I was a strong child who did a brave thing.

Fucking offensive.

user1477282676 Mon 26-Dec-16 12:57:33

It took me a LONG time to realise that I had done the right thing. And to not blame myself for the few kisses I did give him.

I will NOT be shut down here by ignorant people who delight in knocking down others when they aren;t qualified to know what I went though.

How dare you call me victim blaming!? Or try to take away the fact that what I did was a strong thing!?

I am out. Sick people looking to be offended by the very people who've experienced abuse or grooming.

RichardBucket Mon 26-Dec-16 13:00:14

Thank you for challenging that, Boundaries. User, it was a poor choice of words. Nobody is attacking you or taking away from your experience.

Boundaries Mon 26-Dec-16 13:00:56


You were a strong and brave child.

You were also a lucky child, in that your potential abuser didn't pursue you.

Those two things are not connected. It's not up to the victims of abuse to prevent abuse happening.

I'm sorry if this upsets you - it doesn't devalue your experience, or what a lovely, strong child you were.

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