I read this article last night and it really struck a chord with me. I’ve selected a few quotes:
She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch. I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.
It doesn’t belong to her parents, preschool teacher, dance teacher or soccer coach. While she must treat people with respect, she doesn’t have to offer physical affection to please them. And the earlier she learns ownership of herself and responsibility for her body, the better for her.
“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,” said Irene van der Zande, co-founder and executive director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit specializing in teaching personal safety and violence prevention. “This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’ “
How validating of her child’s emotions! I can recall being shamed into hugging or kissing strange family members, those who would go on to abuse me later. I would get spankings from my father if I refused to show appropriate affection. No wonder I have so many body and boundary issues!