Remember the hugs and kisses you were giving to relatives under your parent’s pressure? According to study, this may have a bad influence on children when it comes to consent. However, parents don’t pay much attention to this because they see consent as a natural thing they need to teach their kids while they are little. Anyway, as consent and bodily autonomy became an important subject for discussion, experts say that people need to give their children agency over their bodies, which means turning down hugs and kisses from grandma and grandpa, or even from mom and dad. To support this theory, a childish meme was shared all over the internet saying – “I’m 5. My body is MY body. Do not force me to kiss or hug. I am learning about consent and your support on this will keep myself safe for the rest of my life.

Apparently, telling your children they must obey another person’s demand for physical affection can send a damaged message about the ownership of their own bodies. According to Katia Hetter, a CNN writer, and producer, parents need to learn that the body of their bodies is theirs and children don’t have to accept touching anyone out of a feeling of obligation or fear they will be considered as impolite and rude. Hetter for example, tells her daughter that she would like her to hug her Grandma, however, she won’t allow herself to make her do it because she thinks that her daughter doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because she or someone else says so.

Hetter realized that her daughter body is her daughter’s body and only she has the right to decide whether she will make a physical contact with someone or not. Although this seems natural, remember how we all grew up under the pressure of our parents to force us to hug or kiss our relatives? Guess they made a parenting mistake, however, the purpose of raising awareness of this seemingly unimportant influence over children is to learn how to avoid the same mistake.

Another example given to make us realize that this theory is quite relevant is the next one: imagine you have a child, more precisely, a daughter. Would you like your daughter to have sex with her boyfriend simply to make him happy? Likely, your answer would be negative.

How come then you keep pushing your child to hug and kiss her grandpa or grandma and still convince her that her body is her own and only SHE has the right to decide with whom she wants to make physical contact? Same goes for male children.

Learn that it’s up to your child to decide whether he wants to make a physical contact with someone or not – no exceptions. We know how unpleasant is when your child avoids greeting relatives, however, instead of kissing or hugging them, you can always teach your child how to remain polite with shaking hands or by giving a high-five. It’s very important not to force children to do anything and respect their wishes because if you do, it may leave a damaging message saying: ‘You should always please other people and respect their wishes, instead of your own’. And we know that’s not how we want for our children to develop. Agreed upon many parents, this is a great parenting tip you can learn and implement in your everyday life, no matter your parenting style. Remember that your children’s wishes are always more important than other people’s perception, and if suppressed, they can damage your child’s perception.

Reference: Scary Mommy