The Girls Scouts Remind Parents: Girls Don’t Owe Anyone a Hug, Not Even During the Holidays by Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
As a former Girl Scout and Girl Scout leader, I think it's important to share this vital reminder from the Girl Scouts for parents this holiday season. With all of the family get-togethers this time of year, girls may get the wrong idea about consent and physical affection. That's because without even realizing it, many parents may insist that kids give uncles, aunts, cousins and the like, a big hug or kiss because they brought a gift, they're from out of town, etc.
The Girls Scouts organization says "telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice" as she grows older.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children, but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older," says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald.
Not to mention, of course, that predators and pedophiles exist everywhere, even within families, so teaching kids about consent from an early age is vital. Communication with parents is key. So what's a parent to do? Let your child decide when she wants to offer affection.
"If your daughter is reticent, don’t force her," the Girl Scouts organization states. "There are many other ways to show appreciation, thankfulness and love that don’t require physical contact. Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her."
Read more on GirlScouts.org!