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Parents Spark Debate About Consent For Allowing Their 2-Year-Old Son To Reject Hugs And Kisses From Relatives

Parents Spark Debate About Consent For Allowing Their 2-Year-Old Son To Reject Hugs And Kisses From Relatives
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There's a lot of questions for parents, many you have to ask yourself such as 'How will you handle discipline with your child?' or 'What if they don't want to do something expected of them?'

This meets the current culture war with the question about consent.

It's time again for our favorite subReddit, AITA.

For those not in the know, AITA is short for "Am I the A$$hole?" Other users vote on whether the poster is indeed the titular insult.

Responses can vary but are usually one of these three.

NTA – Not The A$$hole

YTA – You're The A$$hole

NAH – No A$$holes here

Got it?

Let's begin.

Today, we have user sfaddays talking about his son. He says his son is at the age where people want to hug and pinch him, but as a toddler, he's not a fan.

Sfaddays and his wife decided to not force their child to hug or kiss anyone he doesn't want to. That includes family members.

Which brought them to a head when grandma visited.

"Recently my grandmother visited and when she was leaving my sister directed my son to "give Grammy a kiss goodbye" and he said "don't want to" and we said "that's fine, wave goodbye then." And he waved and said goodbye."
"She started to say "oh, no kiss for Grammy?" But I shut that down with "(son) has a lot of ways to express his feelings" and we left it at that. She seemed to understand."

The good thing here is that Grammy understood.

However, sfaddays' sister didn't agree.

She insisted that the toddler should have hugged and kissed his grandmother goodbye. The act meant something to the grandmother and it isn't a big deal.

Sfaddays stood his ground.

"My sister took her to the airport but when she was over later she said I was an asshole for not having my son kiss his great grandmother goodbye knowing it meant something to her just because he 'didn't want to'."
"I tried to explain not wanting physical touching isn't the same as not wanting to leave the park or whatever, but she said it's not as big a deal to him to give her a quick kiss as it was for her to feel her great grandson didn't treasure her visit."

And so, sfaddays asks the internet the age-old question.

"Am I the A$$hole?"

Telling your child to hug or kiss a family member goodbye is an old tradition.

We expect resistance as they grow older and learn how to say no. Some may argue that laziness or rebellion is more to blame for children not hugging family members.

On the other hand, we live in a day and age where we question the values we're instilling in children.

Does telling a child they have to say goodbye a specific way reinforce that they have to listen to every adult?

Should young children have complete bodily autonomy?

This brings us to the internet's debate.

OP, you are NTA.

"NTA. Kids should have the same rights as adults to bodily autonomy. Would you force your wife to kiss your relatives?" - spunkyfuzzguts
"NTA - You taught your kids about consent, your sister on the other hand needs to learn boundaries. Good job my friend." - TaterThotsandRavioli
"NTA. Bodily autonomy and consent are important lessons for all kids to learn and it's something I have taught my boys. Stick to your guns on this one and let your child decide what they are comfortable with. Also he's 2. He'll get over the don't want to stage eventually" - mcauleymom
"NTA. Absolutely hold your ground on this. Bodily autonomy is a vital thing for children to learn. If you want a good way to get your family on board tell them how special every hug and kiss will be when he decides to give it himself. Do you really want affection that's forced? That worked for my brother and sister in law when my extended family got cranky about it. Children shouldn't be forced to touch or be touched, it really sets up fuzzy ideas on consent for later. Good for you for allowing your child that space." - missluluh

On the other hand, some people think we're going too far.

Are we equating forcing a child to hug or kiss a relative with future sexual assault?

Kids aren't born knowing the rules of society. It's up to us to teach them what is considered polite. It's up to us to teach them the difference between good and bad touches.

This sentiment is what drives those to condemn sfaddays as YTA.

"YTA Lol I'm for consent as much as the next guy but this is ridiculous. That's like one step above asking babies for consent before changing their diaper." - Red_Rocket_Rider
"YTA It's his grandma....give her a kiss. Teaching them boundaries is fine and all but you should also teach your children about prioritization and the importance of family. Maybe he doesn't want to kiss your grandma, but if it not doing it upsets her more than doing it would upset him maybe suck it up because, once again, ITS HIS GRANDMA." - acarp6
"A lot of these responses about body ownership and consent unnecessarily imply a sexualization of a purely platonic expression of emotion. It's creeping me out."
"YTA - It's his grandmother and you're establishing a precedent that any physical contact has a sexual connotation. That's a lot more fucked than the respect for boundaries that you're trying to create."
"Getting pinched and kissed by family members is obnoxious, but let's not warp this into a lesson to a problem they don't have." - Jdi4tc
"Another series of answers where Reddit has lost its collective mind. Is someone's own 'autonomy' so important that you should be teaching them to be a jerk in social situations with family? YTA." - a4bh3

Lastly, we have the side that's not taking a side.

They understand what sfaddays is trying to do, but they also know how others feel.

Another generation is raised a different way, and ours has their own values. They clash, they conflict, they may never see eye to eye.

No one is the jerk here.

We're just having problems communicating.

"NAH-- Being forced to touch or kiss someone is wrong. Your GGma's position makes sense from a different generation and your sister was simply trying to protect her GGma. Stand your ground. Otherwise, your GGma will have something to be upset about." - SelfishSilverFish
"NAH ok i was raised with a different culture so this is odd because where im from that is a greeting so i get mixed vibes from it" - Dave_Johnson_
"NAH but be careful to train you son that he doesn't get to say "don't want to" — he needs to be polite and respectful and say "no thank you." You don't want him thinking he runs the show with adults." - realclearmews

Based on the overwhelming responses on Reddit, NTA is the winner.

And you can see that across the internet too. You can find many articles talking about why they don't force their kids to hug relatives, while articles defending the opposite are few and further between.

It's important to teach your kids that they can say no to specific acts like that. But it's also important to teach them to be polite.

Much like sfaddays, you can accomplish this by providing the child with alternative ways to greet and say goodbye.

This holiday season, don't get upset if a young family member doesn't hug you. For some, all you need is a wave.

The book Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behaviors is available here.