My Daughter Doesn’t Owe You a Hug

Ah, Christmas time, the season for the friends-of-family, neighbours, and that aunt who isn’t your real aunt, but a friend of your parents, you think. They all want to pop round after you guiltily include them in your festive gathering.

It’s a time for being kind, relaxing (unless you’re hosting, then it’s the most stressful time of the year), and being just a little more friendly. If you want to, of course.

“Come and give me a hug”, I’ve heard cheerfully said to my daughter who doesn’t know who you are. “Oh haven’t you grown?”

Sorry, she still doesn’t remember you, especially since she hasn’t seen you in three years.

“I’m gonna chase you! Here’s comes the Aunty!”

I know it’s technically a faux-pas to trip her as she runs toward my daughter and it’ll make the whole evening very awkward if I stand between her crouched-run and my daughter, her head colliding into my stomach.

Let it be known, so I don’t have to pull you aside and explain to you in the most polite way I know how: My daughter doesn’t owe you a hug.

She clearly doesn’t want one right now, and while that might change later, you can just say hello and let her decide who she wants embracing her.

She knows that she does owe kindness, pleases and thank you’s, but that’s it. She understands that it’s her body and if she doesn’t want to be touched or even someone in her space, she uses her words and that’s enough. Even if we’re playing and she’s being tickled, if she says ‘stop’, I stop. That’s it, no discussion. She’s made her wish clear and we move on to Lego or something.

Even though she’s still 3, she knows the difference between wanted and unwanted affection and I ask that you do too.


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