A few weeks ago I read a post from the Girls Scouts of America about how parents shouldn’t force their children to hug or kiss relatives. As an Aunt to my nieces and an honorary Aunt, as I like to label my role, to many of my friends children, I must say that I completely agree. There is no need to force a child to do something, like hugging and kissing adults, that they don’t feel comfortable doing.
With my nieces and the children of my friends that I’m very close to, I welcome a hug and affection that they are comfortable showing me and when they choose to do so of their own volition.
I don’t think that there is anyone out there who enjoys a hug or affection from someone that really doesn’t want to give it to you. Even as adults we experience these types of awkward or forced hugs. You know when you see someone where more than a handshake will do, but maybe not a strong enough relationship to show true affection. Sort of like a light, air hug. Sure those are fine, but did anyone really get anything out of that.
Of course there is the Bro hug and that’s really its own thing and as a woman, I don’t really have much experience or knowledge when it comes to the benefit of that one. But usually it starts with a handshake of some kind and then bringing in for a pat on the back. Seems pretty good and probably works for many males.
But when we are young, our parents seem to advise on our hugging and affection. I grew up in a different time when we were made to hug and kiss our relatives, even those slobbery kissing uncles or the aunts that hugged a little too much that it almost hurt. But times have changed and so have relationships between adults and children.
I don’t have children of my own, but I have two amazing nieces that I yearn for hugs and affection from and all of us welcome that love. But, there are situations I’ve been in as an honorary aunt to my friends children and I can feel that the children are not comfortable hugging me as a greeting or thank you. I’m more than happy to just receive a verbal thank you or I’ll happily accept thank you art that I can display on my fridge. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. But it does make me unhappy when the hug is forced and uncomfortable for the parties involved.
I don’t ever want a child to feel uncomfortable around me. I don’t expect to be best friends or a full-fledged aunt to all the wonderful children in my life, but when parents force their children to show me affection that puts an even greater strain on our relationships.
What I’m saying to parents is don’t make your children hug adults if you have to ask them or remind them more than once. If they don’t want to, neither the hugger nor the huggee want to be involved in that. A simple verbal thank you or good night, high five or fist bump will suffice.
And children, don’t feel that you need to show physical affection (hugs and kisses) if you are not comfortable when it comes to friends of your parents or even relatives that you’re uncomfortable with.
However, when children are comfortable showing affection, definitely send it our way, as we appreciate it. I had an experience recently when I was staying the weekend with some friends and their teenage sons, whom I’ve known since birth. My visit was almost over and I was going to be heading home in an hour or so, when my friend’s 15-year-old son came down to the living room, where I was, and gave me a hug good bye. He knew that he would be fully engrossed in playing a video game when it came time for me to leave, so he wanted to ensure he said goodbye. That was completely initiated by him and fully appreciated by me.
Most of us appreciate being hugged or to be shown affection by someone who really wants to show it. So hug with conviction, but if not a handshake or verbal greeting will do.
© 2018, Anne-Marie. All rights reserved.