Asking Permission Before Giving Affection


With the recent onslaught of sexual misconduct allegations and accusations, it makes me fearful for my son. The minefield of puberty and the young dramas over who likes whom and how much is a ways off. But I feel obligated to start his training early on the topic of touching and affection. 

Back in the Day…

My fear stems from something more personal. How do I teach my child to be a loving person without making him afraid to speak to or approach anyone?

I do not force him to embrace or show affection to anyone, including relatives. If it offends them, so be it. I remember being very uneasy around some of my extended male relatives. But I was told to “give Uncle Mike a kiss.”

It made me uncomfortable, but that was the norm when I was a child.

A Tricky Lesson

I agree wholeheartedly that he needs to understand asking permission for physical contact, but he is only 5 so he doesn’t always remember. For example, every day, my son and his 3 favorite school chums run to greet each other as though it has been months since they saw each other instead of 24 hours.

Most days, everyone actively runs to one another, arms outstretched, clearly going for a hug. But other days, one of the children just doesn’t want to hug. And that is ok.

But I have witnessed how confusing that is for these children, including my son. I explain that it is ok to hug his friends if they say it’s ok but that if they say no, he must stop and just say hello.

“But they are my best friends, Mommy,” he tells me, clearly baffled as to why he can’t express his affection every time the mood strikes.

No Means No

I assure him that it doesn’t mean his friends are mad at him or don’t like him anymore. It just means that they don’t want a hug today. I stress that he has the same right to not be touched if he doesn’t want it either. “Just like your body is yours and you get to decide who touches you, everyone else gets to decide for themselves, too.”

It does my heart good to see how easily these kids express their affection to each other and I will admit to a certain degree of sadness that these innocent interactions need to be moderated. But that is the time we live in and lessons like these should start early. My fervent hope is that with education, we can raise loving children and create an environment of safety for all.

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Becky is a Colorado native who lives on the east side of the Springs with her 4 year old son Sam, her husband Matt, and 3 dogs and 1 cat. She has been married for 15 years. She has worked in healthcare management for her entire working life and transitioned to working for herself from her home office 4 years ago. She is grateful for the flexibility that self-employment offers but still wishes for more hours in a day to get everything done. Becky has trouble saying no and loves to be involved with a cause or a purpose. If you need someone for a committee or to get things done, she is your girl. She still makes the time to be there for friends and family. When she is not caught up in the busy-ness of her life, she loves to cook, bake, read, craft, watch movies and, of course, write. She is obsessed with cooking shows and loves to try new recipes. Her husband is her willing guinea pig for her creations.