46 answers

Forcing Children to Hug and Kiss.. Even If They Do Not Want To?

We have had this come up a lot throughout our daughters life.

She has never been a hugging kissing child.

SHe hugs us a lot, she is wonderful about saying.." I love you motheeeerrr! "Very dramaticly and draping her 5'7" body on my 5'3" body.. She hugs my husband and tells him "I love you filth man! "

But kissing is not her thing..

With relatives and friends, if she gives them a hug, they know it is special..

When I was growing up.. on my mothers side of the family a hug was a natural greeting and good bye hugs always. .. Sometime kisses.. On my fathers side.. not so much.. My father though gives huge wet kisses.. Yucky.. But that is who he is.. We hug my stepmopther.. But I refuse to hug my stepfather.. he hugs too long and is kind of creepy about always staring at my chest too.. Yucky.. My daughter will squirm away from him every time..

I had a work associate.. Did not see her very often or very close with her. She hosted an office party at her home once and when we arrived and as we were leaving, she instructed her 8 year old daughter, who I had never met, to kiss and hug every one of us! The girl did it, cheerfully, but everyone of us thought it was very odd..

We have had cmments about how our daughter does not like hugging and kissing. I told them she is a private person and is not comfortible getting in other peopls spaces, because she is not always comfortible with them in her space. But if she does hug you.. she must be very comfortible with you..

She does not mind sitting net to strangers on a plane or in the movies.. But she is not a person that on purpose pulls up a chair to sit right next to someone..

Anyway.. my question is.. Do you insist your child hug and kiss relatives? Your friensds? Is it ok if they refuse, or do you still encourage them.. Do you make them because you feel it would be rude if they did not?

Are there exceptions?

This came up because of this article. and I had just seen a good friend I had not seen in forever and we just naturally hugged.. Not that we had ever hugged in the past..It all got me wondering about what others do..

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/20/living/give-grandma-hug-chi...

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I have never forced my children or grandchildren to hug or kiss against their wishes. I teach them that they are to be respected, never forced to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, and if people are offended I back them up.

5 moms found this helpful

Nope. Even my twin. She wanted hugs and kisses, my kids just didn't feel like it that day, so I told her to back off. I am also a fan of 'high-fives!'.

4 moms found this helpful

I do not force my children to hug or kiss. I have to remind my husband that he should not do so.

I was always forced to do this and it was part of what destroyed my sense of being allowed to have any boundaries about letting/not letting others touch me, about being able to say "NO" when/if I wanted to....you see where this is going, right? Who wants *that* for their child?

2 moms found this helpful

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I NEVER force my children to give hugs or kisses. I have been severely criticized by people who are offended that I didn't make my kids hug or kiss them, but I couldn't care less if it seems rude to some people.
A woman in my church actually said, "Children don't GET a choice. I want my hug and I'm going to get it!" and then backed off when I told her not to violate my child's boundaries. The word "violate" made an impression on her!

Thanks for posting this! I wish everyone would have respectful consideration for their kids like you have for your daughter!

6 moms found this helpful

No, I do not insist that my kids hug/kiss others.

I can't stand social hugging or air kissing, and it has nothing to do with my affection for the other person. I just don't like somebody in my space. My only exceptions are my very close family (children, husband, my parents & close in-laws).

I find that, generally with a few exceptions of course, the insistence is more about pleasing others than what is best for the child.

5 moms found this helpful

I have never forced my children or grandchildren to hug or kiss against their wishes. I teach them that they are to be respected, never forced to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, and if people are offended I back them up.

5 moms found this helpful

Never, not even me or Dad. It's her body, and she needs to be in charge of who touches it I might say, "do you want to kiss Nana?". But I would never make them. And because we allow them to make the decision, they've never really resisted with family (except maybe as older toddlers) and are very affectionate in general. I don't find it odd to remind or ask a child to make a greeting, but I would be disturbed by a parent insisting upon it.

4 moms found this helpful

No, never once have I ever asked our daughter to hug or kiss anyone, family or not. She's her own little person and if she feels like granting this special gesture, she may do it on her own accord. We're very affectionate within our own small family, hugging and kissing one another. I respect everyone else's space. I hug our friends and family and they seem comfortable with that. If they didn't, I'm very keen to pick that up and would act accordingly. The last thing I want is to make someone uncomfortable :)

4 moms found this helpful

Nope. Even my twin. She wanted hugs and kisses, my kids just didn't feel like it that day, so I told her to back off. I am also a fan of 'high-fives!'.

4 moms found this helpful

I don't force mine to hug, kiss or accept hugs and kisses.

3 moms found this helpful

My almost 18 year old daughter is not a big hugger. On her terms. She does do obligation hugs with her grandparents and such..she knows it means alot to them and always will. But my BIL knows its not her thing, so he harasses her about it, which just makes it sort of a joke. To her this becomes a war of words (to which she is far better armed in this war than he is, if I do say so).

She tells him his making a joke of it invalidates her feelings and her comfort level on the subject. That it is her body and it has always been her choice on how she will share it. It always will be. She tells him "my parents instilled that in me". Slam! He will tell her he is her Uncle and he deserves her respect, including the customary affectionate hug (usually in saying goodbye for us). She tells him he does little to earn her respect by his words and actions. She does this with a deadpan serious face all while he is joking, laughing like a comedian and egging her on. She wins every time and he feels humiliated. You would think he would learn.

I am glad that my daughter has this confidence in herself! When she was little she was affectionate, but not one who just hugged anyone who looked huggable! She was always this discerning. :-)

3 moms found this helpful

NO! It never occurred to me to "force" a child to hug anyone, let alone kiss (we are not big on that in my family, anyway.)

Secondly, how in the world can anyone "force" a child to do any task, really?

Thirdly, I think it sends a horrible message to a child that they must submit themselves to doing acts like that when demanded.

I DID let them know that grandma and grandpa love hugs and cuddles, and mostly I showed them by example because *I* loved hugging and hugging and hugging them (my parents)! And because my kids loved them, too... they hugged also.

But never ever because of a demand.

A suggestion... yes. After their great-grandmother had a stroke, I suggested to the preschooler aged child that she could snuggle up next to her great-grandma and sing to her because she would appreciate that, and she happily did. It did indeed bring tears of happiness to her great-grandmother's eyes, but I would not have insisted if my daughter had not wanted to!

2 moms found this helpful

Nah, consent is really important to me - one of the biggest systems of behavior I hope to teach my kids. It would be VERY counter productive to ask them to cross their own boundaries and hug/kiss when they don't feel comfortable/excited to do so.

I will request a polite verbal goodbye. Manners aren't optional.

Likewise, when they are saying see'ya to their friends I'll say something like, "Do you want to see if Jill would like a hug?" Not only are their body boundaries important, their friend's are too. Doesn't matter if their friend is 3 years old or 63 years old. We're never too young or old to practice consent!

Now, that said, we're a pretty touchy feely family. I really don't like being touched by strangers, but people whom I have report with? Bring on the cuddle puddles! My children are similar, they love physical contact and rarely turn down an opportunity to hug, give a slimy kiss, or snuggle.

2 moms found this helpful

When we leave my parents or his parents house, I will say "go give hugs and kisses bye-bye."
But, never as a command or order,more as a reminder to say good bye and be sweet.

Honestly, even if I didn't say anything she would do that anyway, she is VERY affectionate and lovey.

Now, having said that, I would NEVER have her hug OR kiss my husbands co-workers... that is just weird.

I don't even usually mention her giving hugs and kisses to aunts and uncles, mostly just grandparents....
But, like I said, by the time we leave, she has hugged and kissed everyone anyway, including her cousins.

My husbands sisters kids give all of the family hugs and kisses too, I still remember the first family get together, when they came up to me and planted kisses right on my mouth, I was shocked, but at the same time it was sweet, made me feel like I was really their aunt, you know?

They are my only nieces and nephews I see, my brothers kids are in Texas and I have only met them one time.

2 moms found this helpful

I was a lot like your daughter when I was a child. All of my family's comments about it just made me more self conscious about it so I hugged even less.

Now that I am an adult and no one makes me hug I hug just about everyone. :)

So considering my background, no, I do not make my kids express themselves in any way but what they are comfortable with. Okay so they are huggers too so go figure.

2 moms found this helpful

This is a odd one to handle. Some kids just don't like to be touched or touch others and forcing them too can be excruciating. And, it is not fair to them. Many children with autism do not like to be touched or touch others.

My husband's side of the family are huggers and cheek kissers. My family hug occasionally, but not often. So, it was odd for me to get used to his family's "way". Many of the circle of friends we have hug upon arrival and departure, some even offer a peck on the cheek.

Sometimes you may have to intervene and tell the person trying to force her to hug or kiss that it is just not her thing, doesn't mean she feels less about you, it's just not her thing.

2 moms found this helpful

I do not force my children to hug or kiss. I have to remind my husband that he should not do so.

I was always forced to do this and it was part of what destroyed my sense of being allowed to have any boundaries about letting/not letting others touch me, about being able to say "NO" when/if I wanted to....you see where this is going, right? Who wants *that* for their child?

2 moms found this helpful

My 2 yo DD is a little hugger. I love her snuggly little personality! BUT, she doesn't hug everyone. I usually encourage her to hug family members, which she does without a qualm. I have never had to say more than "give Grandma her bye-bye loves," so we have never had to 'force' that. (If she didn't want to, we wouldn't make her...) My friends, she often does hug on her own, but if she doesn't want to she doesn't have to. We DO require her to stop playing, and say goodbye to them politely before they leave though.

I believe in teaching my DD manners... but I also believe in teaching her to have respect for personal space... Part of teaching that is letting her know that it's OK to expect the same respect from others.

2 moms found this helpful

No, we do not insist our daughter hug & kiss. They are allowed to ask, and she is allowed to refuse. We do encourage being polite, saying hello when we meet people we know, and saying good bye, but she does not have to hug and kiss grandparents, who she barely knows and only sees about once/year because they live in another state and do not visit. We might encourage her to give a hug when we leave, but not force it. I find our relatives respect her wishes.

2 moms found this helpful

I never insisted that my child hug or kiss anyone. It was up to her.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't expect them to hug or kiss anyone they don't want to. But when it comes to my mom I do tell them to give hugs. However, anyone else and I'm happy to have them stand behind me and give a wave or fist pump, if they want to.

2 moms found this helpful

Thank you so much for sharing this article!!!! My husband forces our boys to hug/kiss close relative and I've never liked it, but I could not really give him a solid reason as to why I did not like it. We will definitely be discussing this article.

2 moms found this helpful

My husband and I are huggers and our kids are huggers too. But I would never "make" them hug or kiss anyone! We tell them to go say good-bye or thank you and it is usually accompanied with a hug, by their own free will.

2 moms found this helpful

No. I require her to say "hello" and "goodbye," which is the polite thing to do. I don't require her to be overly familiar with people she may not know well, even if they are close friends of mine. I also do not require hugs & kisses to relatives...she is welcome to hug and kiss them if she is wishes or to respond to hugs if she wishes. I think that requiring that kind of contact sends mixed messages in terms of stranger danger and also may teach a child how to be deceptive in physical affection later in life (i.e. - using it to manipulate for some type of gain). I might encourage her to hug/kiss grandparents, but that's the extent of it.

2 moms found this helpful

My youngest only kisses me and my husband. I don't even think he gives my mom kisses anymore. Hugs are another story. I don't make them hug random people. When we have party's when we are leaving I have the hug their aunts and the grandmother types (my in laws moms which are like grandmothers to them) which they don't mind. I let them choose if they hug their uncles. My youngest will usually go around and hug his cousins. My oldest only hugs. Sometimes they give non family members hugs but usually that's on their own terms. I think my oldest has stopped giving as many hugs as he used to.

1 mom found this helpful

The children in our family grow up hugging each adult family member when they enter a room or leave. They are all comfortable with it because it has always been the norm. And yes, they are expected to do so and if they hesitate, their parents will remind them to hug so-and-so.

I don't see any of them being uncomfortable with it, but we also do not have any family members that "hug too long" or are creepy. If there were, I would make an exception to the rule for my GD. Can't say what other family members might do.

1 mom found this helpful

No, I don't insist that my children hug or kiss anyone. When my mother divorced my father and remarried, she forced me to call him daddy, forced me to give him hugs and kisses on the cheek. It was forced and I hated it and resented my mother for making me do it and I resented my step father for not saying, "It's okay, you don't have to hug or kiss me if you don't want to." With that said, no, I don't hug or kiss anyone I don't want to, and I certainly do not force my children to do it either. Hugging and kissing is personal and like you said, if you child is comfortable with it, then fine but if not, don't force it. Your child will resent you for it later in life.

1 mom found this helpful

Nope, wouldn't force them to hug or kiss someone/anyone. I do however insist that they answer someone when addressed. It is a pet peeve of mine when you say hello to a child and they just look at you. I am talking about children over four. My daughter was very shy and when she would get a cookie from the store bakery I would have her say thank you. She would resist but would finally say it in a strange voice that was not hers but at least she said it! It was actually pretty funny. But I would never expect physical contact from someone that isn't comfortable with it. Some people are huggers, some are not.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't want to force my daughter to hug or kiss even me, if she doesn't really want to...it wouldn't stop me from smothering her in a big hug, however, I think... :P

1 mom found this helpful

No way. Bug put it perfectly, kids need to know its OK to say no to any physical contact that makes them feel uncomfortable! With that said, I encourage my son to hug his grandparents; I would never make him do it though. I dont really even suggest it to him with others... sometimes he does it on his own free will for aunts uncles & cousins, and if not, thats fine with me. I just tell him "say goodbye to..." and thats it.

1 mom found this helpful

My husband thinks that she should, and will tell her that, sometimes getting upset if she won't hug his parents. Me on the other hand not so much. I will ask her to and if she says she doesn't want to I see if she will while I am holding her. SOmetimes she will sometimes she won't. Either way I do not force her or get upset with her. I know she won't give my Dad a kiss becuase she does not like his beard. She will give him a big hug though, and that is fine for us. My Mom usually gets a kiss, but it depends on her mood and how her day has been...

1 mom found this helpful

No, but I tell my kids they must always be polite. For example, my youngest is always very shy in new situations, but he must respond politely to anyone's question. He is not allowed to hide behind my leg or not look at people who are speaking to him. He doesn't have to be happy or cheerful, but must always be polite and respond to questions adults ask.

OK and on a side note - the co-worker hug/kiss with daughter - WIERD!

1 mom found this helpful

In my husband's cultural (Arab) they do a double-cheek kiss when greeting family members. At first I found it odd, but did it--usually end up double kissing 30 people within the first 5 minutes of any family event. My husband found it MUCH odder that we kiss my parents, aunts & uncles and brothers on the lips. After he pointed it out, I could see his point and I now dodge and sneak in a cheek kiss instead.

It would have been SO nice to not have forced kisses when I was a kid. One of my uncles had a HUGE mole on his face, and as a kid it always scared me. Since we were told we HAD to kiss him, I always stayed away from him as much as possible. I never even got to know him before he passed away during my college years.

I don't force my kids to kiss or hug anyone. Actually, I usually have to STOP my son from kissing his cousins too much.

1 mom found this helpful

with certain people its enforced. If she had an issue with hugging it wouldnt be but soemtiems she J. decides to be bratty and declare "I'm not hugging grandmom goodbye" to which I tell her yes she is and she is not to say that again.---mostly I dont like the comment and find the comment rude....I remind her she wouldnt like it if they said that to her
Emmy is told to hug all of my relatives goodbye (it's how it is on both sides of ym family), she doesnt have to give kisses. she is told to hug very close friends and her friends goodbye at home too. not every kid or friend we have, but if they are practically family they fall under the give your aunt/uncle/cousin a hug hello/goodbye rule. She's used to it so it's no big deal. If we had a party and she wasnt related to anyone and didnt know them I wouldnt have her hug them goodbye.

1 mom found this helpful

I come from a long line of huggers.

We hug hello, goodbye, congratulations, apologies, kudos - just random hugs for the heck of it. I hug my friends hello, heck, sometimes my co-workers (but I am way more careful of that).

My teen son hugs. He hugs me good morning, when I get home from work, goodnight, whenever. He hugs his best friend hello and goodbye, and his best friend's mother, and his other friends, and the other moms, etc.

Now kisses are different - I only kiss family, and then only on the cheek. My son is the same for kisses. Those are, to me, more intimate and lip kisses are reserved for intimate relationships.

So, yeah, we are freaks. Bwahahaha

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know about forcing it when it comes to strangers... But the thought of my children growing up to become one of those people who hate physical contact with another human being just disturbs me. My sister is this way. She refuses to hug or kiss anyone! It's odd.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think you should force a child to do things but it would be nice if they did on their own.

When I was little my family was on the way to a family reunion you know the odd ball aunts and uncles you meet for the first time. Well on the drive there my mom tells me that I have to hug the relatives. As a child I asked why and she gave me some reason. I don't recall whether I did or did not hug them but it was something that stuck with me.

But I think it is what you are used to doing in your immediate family as to how to greet other extended family members. Hugs are nice but the creepy people who want hugs are another story.

The other S.

A polite hello nice to meet you would suffice.

1 mom found this helpful

I've never insisted that they have forced physical contact. I do insist on good manners. When my children/grandchildren are meeting someone for the first time, I give them the same respect that I would an adult. I introduce them and tell my children how I know the individual. I've taught them to say hello and to respond to questions asked of them (i.e. how are you - "fine thank you"). We are for the most part talking about people with whom I'm acquainted and in contact with and I'm there to supervise. They are not encouraged to speak to strangers, but once the spectre of conversation with someone other than our immediate family has been dealt with, they are stronger and more capable of dealing with others. These skills for communication are necessary and important and while we'd love to have it so we didn't have to communicate with anyone other than those we choose, that's just not reality. A healthy dose of common sense is highly desirable and I don't think there is a text book answer to how to handle every single situation. Some of these we'll have to wing.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't insist, but our son is a natural hugger.
I get an opposite problem.
Kids seem to want to hug me all the time and it sometimes makes my son a little possessive and jealous.
"You've got a mother of your own - go hug her! This one's mine!".
He's got a great sense of humor.
Guess I've got a bit of a Mrs Santa look going.

1 mom found this helpful

No. I might "suggest" it, but it has never been MADE to be done. If grandparents are visiting (they all live out of town, so they usually stay/sleep here at our home for a few nights in a row), when it is bedtime, my kids get the "go tell everyone goodnight" bit. When they were younger, hugs and kisses were pretty natural for them to share with their grandparents. So I might have said "go give goodnight hugs/kisses"... but if they balked at any part beyond saying a sweet goodnight, they would not have been forced to give a hug or kiss.

I grew up with an Uncle that made me VERY uncomfortable. I never wanted to hug or kiss or even be near him. I will not impose that on my children.

I am not a big hugger/kisser. Light loose hugs are ok. I made the mistake once of answering a direct question by someone at church, who asked me "is it ok if I give you hugs? Because I am a "hugger" but if you are not, then I don't want to make you uncomfortable". I said hugs are fine. And they are. Most people, when giving non-family members hugs give loose short hugs. You know, the little polite ones. NOPE. The bear hug that squeezes your breath and holds for 15 seconds. NOT what I had expected, and very much NOT comfortable with it.

1 mom found this helpful

I often do hug hellos and goodbyes. My son does to. I have a group of friends all from the same area that are also cheek kissers for hello's and goodbye's. I go with it when we visit. I would never make my son hug or kiss anyone if he did not want to. For example, I will say, "Give grandma a hug goodbye."..but if he refuses he refuses (this is very rare). I look at it as why would anyone want to receive a 'forced" hug anyway. It kind of takes away the whole meaning behind it.

1 mom found this helpful

I never insist. When we leave somewhere whether there is family or friends, I do say "Hugs and kisses!" and they give whomever they want their own version of hugs and kisses. If they choose to just say bye, that is okay too. Even with myself, when I want to kiss/hug them goodnight, I hug them and go in for a kiss but sometimes my son will say 'no kisses.' So i say okay! (kids are almost 3 and almost 5).

1 mom found this helpful

No don't insist on hugging or kissing..may suggest that he high five "uncle chris" when we leave...or that he look "aunt Sheri" in the eye and say thank you for inviting us over. Anything more is not required.

1 mom found this helpful

Trust the instincts of children and animals. They have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing who they do or don't want to be around we had a black sheep dog who kept glaring and growling at ONE Hispanic man who was helping to roof our house. I finally had to bring her in the house. They then started throwing glass bottles off the roof and down onto our cement patio. Candy was right not to trust him. He would do her harm and she knew it.

Updated

Trust the instincts of children and animals. They have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing who they do or don't want to be around we had a black sheep dog who kept glaring and growling at ONE Hispanic man who was helping to roof our house. I finally had to bring her in the house. They then started throwing glass bottles off the roof and down onto our cement patio. Candy was right not to trust him. He would do her harm and she knew it.

1 mom found this helpful

If someone asks for a hug or a kiss from my son he is welcome to decline the offer. It really upset me when great grandma forced my 3yr old son to give him hugs and kisses. Firstly, he had now grown up with her - she was new and second she was forceful about it, off putting to anyone. My son would run from her once he saw what she wanted. Now I do say to my son to give hugs and kisses or high fives to our family before we leave somewhere, again he has the right to refuse. We were at Great Grandpa's wake and it was time for him to leave but pleanty of people were still there, I said to my then 4yr old to go say good bye and give hugs and kisses to his grandparents and aunt (they were together) ... well he was either confused (a lot of people were there) or really giving because he went around and hugged EVERYONE'S leg, and I mean EVERYONE!!! Many were taken by surprise, but when they realized what was going on they had huge smiles replacing frowns, so he was pleased with himself. So, I suggest it, ask him to whatever but it is NOT forced, he can always decline and can always hug everyone!

1 mom found this helpful

My LO does not like people, especially strangers, in his personal space. he will pull away or push them away, and they gasp. Whatever. He's like his mama in that regard.

I do encourage him to hug and kiss certain people by showign him that I will do it, or I hug/kiss with him in my arms. That's as far as I take it, though. I don't let parents force their kids to hug or kiss me, either. I think that they need to trust and act on their instincts and get comfortable in their own souls and not have someone--including mommy--invalidate their judgments and dictate to them what is supposed to feel comfortable.

1 mom found this helpful

I point out that adults don't all kiss each other, and if they still push I let them know where they can kiss me!

1 mom found this helpful

I didn't read the article, but no way, I do not make my kids hug or kiss or even say hi or bye if they don't want to. I always just shrug it off and say, "Maybe next time", or, "It's ok, you don't have to". And then change the subject.

I think it is all about the person you are meeting and greeting. What does that person expect. If that person expects a hug as a hello and goodbye, teach your daughter that it is the polite thing to do. I would avoid the step-father as he has demonstrated a lack of decency. Kissing should not be enforced. I think most people know that kissing is not easy for some.

For many, a hug says that I am genuinely glad to see you. Your daughter will learn that everyone has a different way of showing that and she just needs to pay attention to what is expected. Eye contact and a smile is always good.

But most important, your daughter needs to learn that with family and friends, it is not about her. It is about treating others with the respect they are due. For some it includes a hug.

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