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Children's Consent

(108 Posts)
mamatobabes Tue 26-Sep-17 16:03:55

AIBU to expect my mother and other relatives to comply with my request to only hug or kiss my child if SHE wants them to?

DD is 18 months. I read a very interesting article online a year or so ago about teaching children from early on that their body is theirs, and that they can say no to any unwanted physical contact at any time from anyone. After a childhood growing up having half my face kissed off by my relatives (nothing untoward!) and feeling uncomfortable about saying 'I don't want you to' in case I upset someone it made sense to me. So OH and I decided that we'd be respecting our child's decisions on hugs, kissing, tickling etc.

She is now at an age where sometimes she says no to cuddles and kisses. Even if it's me or OH, if she says no we don't do it. However, my mother plus a few other (well meaning) relatives are really put out when we say 'she said no, please don't kiss her if she doesn't want to'. It's all 'ooh Grandma will have to steal a kiss then' and 'oh Aunty is sad now, go on, be a good good girl and give me a cuddle'.

I don't think for a second that any of them are any sort of risk or threat. They are caring and loving. But I do think they should allow her to make the decision. Cue lots of huffing, comments of 'there are exceptions for grandparents, surely, it's ridiculous', 'what's the harm?' etc etc etc.


baffledcoconut Tue 26-Sep-17 16:07:44

I agree with you. I've had to stop family members when mine has tried to push them away and they've forced them to cuddle.

FIL did say 'I don't care if they don't. I do and that's all that matters'

We currently aren't speaking.

ScrabbleFiend Tue 26-Sep-17 16:10:32

YANBU. Could you explain you're reasoning to your relatives maybe? Sounds like they need a little education in the boundaries department. My own son hasn't let me kiss him since he was about 5, just doesn't like it so I don't (thankfully he is very cuddly though).

Somerford Tue 26-Sep-17 16:15:34

You aren't being unreasonable at all. I think anyone who feels put out by your position on this should ask themselves why on earth they would want to force a child into unwanted kisses and cuddles, it seems to be widely accepted that the child has no say in the matter but I think that needs to change.

NerrSnerr Tue 26-Sep-17 16:22:17

I agree you're not being unreasonable. We introduced the 'high 5' option which went down well with my daughter.

NicolasFlamel Tue 26-Sep-17 16:22:28

YANBU but some people seem to think it's their right or it doesn't matter because the child is so young.
I feel very strongly about it. My kids do not have to cuddle, kiss or even high five anyone if they dont want to, even if that person is a grandparent or other family member. I don't care if it annoys them. Children need to know from a very early age that their body is their own and then can say no to physical touch that makes them uncomfortable.

TammySwansonTwo Tue 26-Sep-17 16:22:40

YADNBU but be prepared to be patronised and told you are (this came up here recently and I was floored by the responses). Your child needs to know that it's not acceptable for adults to overrule their decisions about their body or it leaves them incredibly vulnerable if they think this is okay. It's so patently obvious that this is the case. I was forced to hug and kiss my father who would fly into a rage if I refused, and ended up being abused by him later - not saying your relatives are abusers but it was easier for him to get away with it because I was used to him doing what he wanted regardless. Had I been taught that wasn't okay, maybe I would have told someone sooner.

user1493413286 Tue 26-Sep-17 16:23:32

I totally agree and will be bringing my daughter up the same. I make my DSD say goodbye to people (sometimes she’d rather sit and play and ignore people) so we make her come to the door and wave if she doesn’t want to kiss or hug as I think it’s polite to say bye but if she doesn’t want to hug or kiss we don’t make her for the same reasons you’ve said.
I’d try and explain your reasoning to your family and if they don’t get it then just keep with the boundaries and ask them not to make the comments that they are making.

Bloodybridget Tue 26-Sep-17 16:27:52

YANBU. No need at all for a child to accept being kissed and cuddled when they don't want it, and plenty of good reasons for them to decide for themselves. Of course it's lovely for us adults to get hugs and kisses from kids but we can't and shouldn't demand it.

mamatobabes Tue 26-Sep-17 16:34:12

I do always get her to be polite and come and see people to the door, and she usually waves bye bye and will sometimes offer cuddles and kisses anyway. She quite often blows kisses, just kisses her grandparents or climbs up for a snuggle. I have no problem with this in the slightest I think it's lovely. But I don't mind because it's come from her, she's not being made to do it.

Yes, consent as an older child/young adult is my concern. I want her to know it's ok to say no, whenever you like.

MeriReu Tue 26-Sep-17 16:37:17

Totally agree with you! I did the same with my DS.
Now if he says no everyone drops it.

I think nobody would force an adult into a cuddle so don't force my little boy!

Brummiegirl15 Tue 26-Sep-17 16:40:01

Couldn't agree more and it's something I feel very strongly about

AGnu Tue 26-Sep-17 16:48:12

As a greeting we've always taught our DC that they can choose between a wave/handshake/high five/hug/kiss. Thankfully our relatives have accepted it & no-one's tried to force the issue. They did both go through a phase of trying to hide behind us but I insisted they acknowledge the other person in some way. Now at 4 & 6 they'll usually happily accept a kiss, mostly I think because they know they can refuse if they want.

Namechangetempissue Tue 26-Sep-17 16:50:49

My niece has just turned two and we all ask her if we can have a hug before just doing it anyway (even my children know to ask first). She often says no and she isn't pressurised or asked to change her mind.

Mooey89 Tue 26-Sep-17 16:51:46

Totally agree. We say 'say bye bye now, does Auntie X get a cuddle or would you prefer a wave or a high five?'
That works well.

SomewhatIdiosyncratic Tue 26-Sep-17 16:57:19

It is quite a recent shift of culture so will need explaining to older adults that grew up and raised their children with the attitude that you are respecting the older relative by indulging them with their requests for affection.

BewareOfDragons Tue 26-Sep-17 16:59:49

oh Aunty is sad now, go on, be a good good girl and give me a cuddle'.

Ugh. YANBU. I would spell it out to family using that example: "You've just told my DD that to be a good girl, she has to let you touch her against her will. Thanks for that. Now stop. She said no. Please respect that."

And if you need to take it farther with your idiot relatives: "I want her to be able to stand up for herself when she's older and dating. Or out in public and some asshole puts his hands on her when she doesn't want him to. That's the kind of line an asshole uses. I don't want her to be a 'good girl; I want her to be a girl who gets to decide who gets to touch her and when. Now leave her the hell alone!"

Rainatnight Tue 26-Sep-17 17:00:01

People who think they have a 'right' to a cuddle, like a child was put on this earth for that purpose drive me mental. Currently having issues with a friend of DP's over this.

pizzaparty11 Tue 26-Sep-17 17:00:07

that they can choose between a wave/handshake/high five/hug/kiss

Presumably you have taught them to make sure the other person consents to their snotty hugs and kisses.

yantantethermetherpimp Tue 26-Sep-17 17:05:44

Definitely NBU. I am bringing up my daughters the same way. FIL still gets the hump sometimes, but that's his problem.

ArcheryAnnie Tue 26-Sep-17 17:06:31

YANBU - you are doing a good thing for your daughter, and you are right not to want other people to undermine that.

PeppaPigTastesLikeBacon Tue 26-Sep-17 17:09:38

Completely agree with you. My dd (same age as yours) is the same. We don't kiss/hug her unless she wants it (although I was abused as a child so have a different outlook on it than most)

Slimthistime Tue 26-Sep-17 17:09:43

YANBU at all.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Tue 26-Sep-17 17:13:59

I didn't have this issue with DS1 because he was very huggy; but DS2 is far more selective about whom he chooses to hug and kiss. Quite often it is only me - not even DH. DS1 would like to give DS2 kisses and cuddles more, but DS2 quite often won't have it, and I don't force him to either.
I do draw the line at him punching his brother though (He REALLY doesn't want to be hugged or kissed sometimes!).
Sometimes, when he's feeling particularly upset/cross about something, he'll tell me that he won't cuddled or kiss me either - and he won't, until he's ready to. So I offer but don't force him.

I agree that it IS important to allow them bodily autonomy, and from an early age - but I do make them both at least say hello and good bye to people who visit, because that's good manners.

wanderings Tue 26-Sep-17 17:16:07

Times have moved on from the days when children could fear to be clouted for rudeness if they didn't willingly kiss their bearded great-uncle on the mouth "because he's old and it might hurt his feelings if you don't".

Not saying that anyone's well-meaning relatives here are anywhere near as bad as that, but some of those children who dared to speak up about a certain gent with the surname Savile were told "don't you know who he is?!?!" He got away with it because children were expected to submit to attention like that whether they wanted to or not.

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