53 answers

Are Hugs Required?

My husband and I are having a dispute and are looking for input.

Should you expect or require that your children hug everyone goodnight(specifically grandparents and family members if we're at their house visiting) if asked by either the parents or Grandparents? Do you consider hugging people goodnight a matter of manners or should the decision to hug be left up to the child?

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Wow! This was a hot topic! THANK YOU ALL for sharing your thoughts.

Unfortunately, this is an issue that just might not be resolved in our house. Despite all of the great input, my husband and I still don't agree. This discussion started in our house because my BIL and SIL (who live far away from the inlaws) ALWAYS requires their two children to hug everyone goodnight when they visit. For the most part, they're very willing to do this. My FIL, however, isn't generally interested in the kids - doesn't play with them all day- and when it's his turn for hugs it becomes this long, drawn out incident that gets uncomfortable for us all as he pulls the kids into his lap, and the kids try to squirm away, overtired and uncomfortable, and he tries to have some 'special' moment, hugging them and telling them how much he loves them or even trying to sing them a song. He goes on and on and on.... I always swore I wouldn't put my kids through that. If he doesn't give them any love during the day, he didn't earn their affection. They always JUMPED into my MIL's arms and it's a delight to see the wonderful relationship they have with her. Now that I have kids, I do want to avoid this incident with him AND I see that sometimes, my two year old just isn't feeling it or is too tired for the whole 'hugs for everyone' routine.

So... we hug ALL the time at home and I do want my child to choose to be affectionate with all of our family, immediate and extended. That being said, I grew up in a big family and was expected to hug everyone goodnight as a child. Everyone - sometimes even visiting friends of the family. I remember being very uncomfortable with this at times. Furthermore, I see hugging as a sign of affection, not something required by manners. So... if my children are overtired, grumpy or just not feeling it for someone, I cannot imagine forcing them to hug people. Adults should understand this and not be hurt. (And maybe if it's my FIL he'll realize what's going on.)

My husband feels that, if our 2 year old is asked for a hug or told to hug people good night (family) that she should do it as a matter of respecting adults (i.e. doing as she's told) and politeness. He feels that, mostly, if she refuses to do it, she is just flexing her little control muscles. We hadn't even thought of all the issues that come up with children learning about personal space and saying no and even those arguments didn't seem to sway him at all.

I guess that the resolution is this... I hope my children will always want to give hugs goodnight. If I'm putting my children to bed when others are around and am anticipating their reticence to be an issue, I will simply say, "Oh, they're so tired. Let's just tell everyone we love them and go get ready for bed" and allow them to say goodnight and blow kisses before we're on our way.

Featured Answers

I wouldn't feel comfortable requiring my child to hug someone. I suppose if it's about manners, which I can understand, then I would require that they say goodnight and goodbye.

1 mom found this helpful

From a grandparents point of view I do not want my grandchildren forced to hug me. When they are little you can start the habit but as they grow allow them to do what is comfortable for them. The grandparent/grandchild relationship grows and may take time as we do not see them every day and they don't understand who we are. Time spent together will create memories that hopefully will result in them wanting to hug us. I also have always had an issue with adults kissing babies and young children on the mouth exposing the child to whatever. I w/much rather a hug and kiss on the cheek.

1 mom found this helpful

you can suggested it, you can model it, but I would not force it. I dont think any child should be taught that they must show affection for anyone just because they are realeted, etc. A child should never have to kiss or hug anyone they do not want to.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I guess I'm going to give a different point-of-view with a twist. I definitely support a child's ability to define the use of his/her personal space. However, personal space is *not* and issue when it comes to a 0-3year old! Yes, some children have Sensory Processing Disorders and some have spectrum issues which will impede their ability to both physically and emotionally interact with others. But barring that, I think most babies and toddlers should be taught that hugging is part of the good-bye routine when the Grandparents leave.

My brother/SIL has a son, about to turn 3, who has been taught that he has the "power" to decide who he hugs. And this clever little boy has been wielding his power in order to manipulate the adults to tip-toe around him since before he turned 2. There is no denying that it causes a slight distance in his relationship with the Grandparents (compared to my kids). Again, I know my SIL meant well in allowing her 2 year old to make his own decision...but it definitely backfired. It makes my nephew stand-out as a bit strange and weird -- and it's a poor reflection on my brother and SIL.

As my kids get older, I expect them to "rebel" and refuse hug requests at times...and they will never be forced to give a hug. But we believe that a child's closest bonds start with physical interaction. I allowed the Grandparents to hold and rock my babies as long as they wanted. As my kids grew older, I asked them to walk the Grandparents to the door and give hugs...and there has never, ever been an issue. We have NEVER "made" them give a hug to the Grandparents...my kids just leap into their arms! I think if you simply teach a hug (for the people you chose!) as part of the routine, you won't have a big deal.

2 moms found this helpful

No, children should not be required to hug or kiss any relative. To say goodnight is a must, however. The hug is a genuine display of affection and that has to be earned. I never tell my kids to hug anybody including myself, but, funny thing, they do willingly hug me, dad, grandma. And that is the most precious thing. That lets me know how they really feel.

1 mom found this helpful

I find that expecting a tired child to hug every family member goodnight to be ridiculous. A simple "goodnight" should suffice.

1 mom found this helpful

I ask my kids to give to give hugs but sometimes they just don't want to hug. Instead of hurting peoples feelings I ask if they can have a high five, or an eskimo kiss or some other type of gesture the kids might think is fun. I've had melt downs over not wanting to hug grandparents. I always told my husband its not worth the battle, if they don't want to hug, find another way to say goodnight.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

I have 4 children and if they didn't want to hug everyone that was just fine. The family understood that sometimes children, no matter what age, just don't have the comfort or connection at that time but eventually will. My belief is why teach a child to fake an emotion. Hugs have a meaning, which is affection. My 15 and 13 year old always hug who they are close to or if a gift or sign of affection was shown to them also. My younger two (9 and 6yrs) are pretty good at hugging now, but I don't force them to hug. I do make them say, "thank you" and "good-bye". Being polite and respectful is different from showing a sign of affection. Good Luck!! This is just one mom's opinion.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think they're required, I think it's something nice to do and show affection for that person. I think it's a good way to start teaching children that what they do affects others. BUT I also think that if the child is having a major meltdown over giving a hug then it should not be pushed, some kids (people in general) are just not touchy feely.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think, and have heard from several experts, that you should never force a child to hug anyone. It undermines their right to personal space. When my kids were younger and someone wanted a hug,and they didn't want to give it I would have them do a high five or blow a kiss. I don't believe that they should ever be taught that it is rude it they do not want physical contact, or if it the contact makes them feel awkward. We need to stress to kids that no one should be able to touch you and make you feel uncomfortable in any capacity.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J. It depends on the child. Especially at your childrens age. They may hug the them sometimes and sometimes they may not. but don't force them.

1 mom found this helpful

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