Should you force your child to hug family members?
MummyOfFourBoys · 16/10/2018 20:53
Ok, so a bit of a rant but what would you have done in this situation?
So we were at a big family birthday party with a handful of kids and about 30 adults. My kids had been going non stop since it started at 7pm and it is now 10pm and they are past it! So we start to say our goodbyes, I said goodbye to my mother-in-law first, kiss on the cheek and a hug, then she asks my eldest son (6) for a hug “give me a hug, Samuel” but he declined and she asked again “why won’t you give your grandma a hug?” With her arms out. He still declined by shaking his head and backed away.
But then she said to him, “You are so mean, Samuel!” She wasn’t joking either.
This was right in front of me and I just froze. It was obvious to me and anyone else that he didn’t want a hug (he has never been the affectionate type, especially when he is overtired) and I didn’t want to make him hug her (who would want a fake hug anyway?).
so I just let him go off and play. It was so awkward that I just ran off to my youngest who was covered with chocolate to leave the situation.
As we left, an hour later, my husband was very angry with Samuel and I asked him happened and he replied “He just refused to hug my mum!”
I just couldn’t believe that she had tried for a hug again! I felt really sorry for my boy and thought about it all night as I couldn’t understand why people were getting so angry about it. I think it’s because I would never force a child for physically touch without asking them as I always say “can I have a cuddle, please?” When I would like one or saying goodbye but if a child said no, I would respond, “okay, how about a high five?”
But then, is my son being disrespectful by not doing what he is told by his grandma? Is it rude?
Also, do I say something to her? What SHOULD I have said at the party?
Not sure what to think on this one guys. Let me know.
ElfridaEtAl · 16/10/2018 20:56
No she should respect his boundaries.
He very obviously as you stated didn't want to hug his Grandma and that should have been enough for her to back off.
Can't be doing with forced affection.
BifsWif · 16/10/2018 20:57
Nope, I never force my children to give/receive unwanted physical contact.
PurpleMac · 16/10/2018 20:58
Nope. Consent is taught by respecting the boundaries of children.
If my son knows that he can say no to a hug or a kiss from anyone and have that respected, then when he's a young man I would hope he has that appreciation of consent.
SabineUndine · 16/10/2018 20:59
He's not being disrespectful and she's being unreasonable. The high five thing is a good suggestion. I used to hate having to hug relatives I barely knew, as a child.
Namechangeforthiscancershit · 16/10/2018 21:00
Your poor son. He has done nothing wrong. Alternatives are the way to go I think.
Wish as adults we could opt out of some of the hugging too
mimibunz · 16/10/2018 21:00
Children should never be forced to hug or kiss anyone, even Grannies. It sounds like she was embarrassed and kept after him, maybe doing it deliberately in front of your husband so he would intervene?
Ceecee18 · 16/10/2018 21:00
Nope. I hated being forced to as a child and will not be forcing DD to. DPs family are all huggers but if she ever refuses to then tough.
They need to learn that they have control over their bodies. Not anyone else, family member or now.
CherryPavlova · 16/10/2018 21:01
He was a bit mean not to give his grandmother a hug and that should be explained but I wouldn’t force the issue or make a big deal of it.
ThroughThickAndThin01 · 16/10/2018 21:04
Would it really have hurt him to give his granny a quick hug? No cost to him, huge thing to his gran. Yabu.
Mn doesn’t agree though. Personal space is personal space.
I don’t agree it’s that clear cut.
Laiste · 16/10/2018 21:04
This is one of those awkward things which you hope won't rear it's head and when it does you have to act on the spot and it's a bit horrible.
I think you need to have a chat with DH about respecting a child's physical boundaries and how to properly deal with the situation next time.
I'd be saying something breezy to MIL like 'Aw DS is just not the cuddly type, lets not force him', and say my goodbyes without any more about it.
onlyk · 16/10/2018 21:06
As above your son shouldn’t be forced to hug someone (even grandma) if he doesn’t want too. My nephew isn’t a bid hugger either and I often see him trying to edge out the door if someone is present who’d try to hug him when he doesn’t want to.
As a child I used to hate aunties etc who’d swoop in to kiss you.
sue51 · 16/10/2018 21:07
A child should be able to say no to a hug, even from his granny. The high 5 suggestion is an excellent compromise.
bogiesaremyonlyfriend · 16/10/2018 21:08
It's not mean at all. Unless he wasn't hugging her because he wanted to make her sad, which I very much doubt, then it's not mean to not want a hug. I agree about teaching children about consent. What message are you sending to your son - you should make people do things they don't want to do just because it pleases someone else!! I'd have a chat with him and your dh about why it isn't naughty and that it's ok not to want a hug
mbosnz · 16/10/2018 21:08
For me, my kids have always known they do not have to hug or kiss anybody they don't want to. That includes their parents. They do have to be polite. So, a smile, shake hands, nunnight gramma - all cool. But always remembering that these are little people who get tired, who are being asked to deal with adult situations. . .
But no, I won't tell a kid they have to hug, or kiss somebody they don't want to. They internalise these messages of what they ought to do, what we expect them to do, what we will growl at them for not doing, to their own detriment, and peril.
SpamChaudFroid · 16/10/2018 21:09
You were right OP, forcing children to accept unwanted hugs etc. gives them mixed messages re. their right to bodily autonomy. I hated it as a child.
Disfordarkchocolate · 16/10/2018 21:10
No you shouldn't. Children need to in control of their own body whenever possible and they also need to be sure that their parents will back them up when they feel physically uncomfortable with contact with adults.
reluctantbrit · 16/10/2018 21:11
Cherry - why is it mean not to want to hug somebody? If i or my child does not want to hug or kiss someone I want this person to respect this.
I taught my child to be polite, say good bye/hello and maybe shake a hand and thank you for having me if it was a party or other invitation.
But physical contact for the sake of it or that a child is obliged to - no, that’s not mean if a child refuse, it is its right.
ThroughThickAndThin01 · 16/10/2018 21:12
Laiste don’t quite understand why you think the op needs to speak to her dh about ‘boundaries’
stressedtiredbuthappy · 16/10/2018 21:12
Yanbu kids should never be made to hug anyone, would any adult be e happy with hugging people they didn't want to? Explain to your husband your child is his own person and he isn't responsible for anyone else's happiness but his own.
I feel really strongly about this.
FunSponges · 16/10/2018 21:13
Of course it's not mean. It doesn't matter if it's granny, any child has the right to not hug someone if they don't want it. How can you teach about boundaries etc but force them to do something that they are uncomfortable with.
My DS went through a phase of refusing to hug my nan. She never forced the issue and he got over it and let's her hug him now. She's one of the very few people he would let do this as he isn't a hugger either.
Ohyesiam · 16/10/2018 21:14
Talk to your dh about how important it is that kids have autonomy over their bodies. They need to know deep down in their bones what it feels like to have their” no” respected, and they need to know that is the norm. Because if it’s ever not respected there is no confusion in their mind about knowing when to tell, and knowing that they can kick and bite if the worst should happen.
I’m sorry I’m not articulating this very well, I’m menopausally tired, but I hope you are getting my meaning.
Hurryupbacktoschool · 16/10/2018 21:17
My MIL is always trying to get my kids to hug and kiss her when she visits. She even stood in the middle of the room once refusing to move until my son hugged her. As a result he really dislikes her visits now.
She calls him rude and tells us we need to “make him affectionate” 🙄 The fact is that he’s a very affectionate boy to me and to his Dad. But nobody likes forced affection.
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