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  • Adults who demand affection

    I'm curious to know if anyone else is dealing with this: I love my family, am very grateful for them and their support (especially since I am now a single New Mom) HOWEVER.....some of them demand kisses and hugs from my 19month old. I use to tell baby to give so and so a hug goodbye and then it dawned on me...I'm pushing my will on her to perform and to give affection on demand!! So that stopped...BUT now one particular relative will grab babies face turn it and force a kiss on babies lips!!! This particular relative is very helpful to us...baby sitting, cleaning, social outings, etc....and very controlling and at the same time incredibly fragile. I need a kind way of saying "HEY BACK OFF MY KID and KEEP YOU LIPS TO YOURSELF!" Any suggestions?

  • #2
    We have dealt with the same issues, especially with my childless Aunt and my Grandmother. One particularly bad day was when my son received a few gifts from Great-grandma and tried to 'make ' him give her a thank you hug and kiss. My Mom said "GG Gave you all these nice things, just give her a hug now." On and on the poor child== OOH! My blood boils just thinking about it. I think I started saying out loud "I want him to give you hugs and kisses because HE WANTS to give them to you. He might feel on the spot and emabarred that everyone is looking at him." Of course my grandma was like "I guess I'll never get a hug from him again" all gloom and doom but now at 3yrs old he gives her hugs and kisses totally on his own out of true affection.
    I suggest when your relative is about to force hug or whatever your daughter --that you say towards your child "lets ask if you are ready for a hug right now" out loud for both of their benefits. If it is NO, tell them both that hugs are better when you are in the mood for them and maybe later. Maybe a subtle suggestion to your relative that your toddler is a real person with feelings and preferences will help her understand. Possibly teach her a few signs, I know a few cases where people were able to see the "person-hood" of pre-verbal children when they could talk that way--yes/no/ready/eat etc. Children also seem to be able to use signs in a 'on the spot' situation better even if they have some words already.
    Just some thoughts!
    Good luck with that!

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    • #3
      My family was the same way at first, and it was rough.

      After it happened the first time, we sat our daughter down and told her that she never had to touch anyone or kiss anyone, or let anyone else touch or kiss her, unless she wanted to. I feel like this is an important personal boundary. I think even as a toddler she knew what we meant. We tried to ask before we gave her a hug or kiss, too, so she could practice saying yes or no.

      When family was near, we always stayed close by to intervene, and if they would say, "give me a kiss", we'd do what Naomi mentioned and say to our daughter, "do you want to give Aunt Jill a kiss?". If she said no, we'd say, "do you want to blow her a kiss, or do you want me to?". She'd either do it, or she'd point to one of us and we'd blow a kiss (trying to make it fun and playful). Most of our family members took the hint, but we did have have a talk with close family member to tell her that we don't force our daughter to receive touches. It was hard, but they actually took it very well when we put it in the context of teaching her to set boundaries for her own body. At first they said, "but I'm family!", but we just said that most abuse comes from within the family or close friends, and we want her to know that EVERYONE needs to respect her comfort zones. We didn't get into too much of the rest of the underlying respect issue, because we knew it wouldn't be understood or well received anyway. They family member wasn't happy, but they agreed. It didn't take long before our daughter was giving affection because she wanted to.

      Good luck.

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      • #4
        Hi, I just wanted to say that while reading this post and the responses, your loving words and kindness towards each other have brought me to tears of joy. I never thought of the forcing of affection when unwanted by your child could cause issues in their development. It makes so much sense though. When we see her extended family I just followed along with encouraging hugs and kisses, even though she does not want to give them. She is very loving and affectionate towards Her father and I, and do not need to ask for any lovin', she gives it freely. When I do want a kiss I find I just always asked her("Can Mommy have a kiss, please"). I feel like I've learned something very valuable and beyond what the main discussion was about. I've learned to not force anything on my DD2, even if it is just a nice gesture to a family member. Thanks for bringing this up and good luck on your journey!!!!

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        • #5
          we have done the same things as previously offered. staying on top of things, nearby, is the best thing if you think intervention is going to be needed, but sometimes family members are tricky and fast!! so i highly recommend the prior discussion. we always tell ds that he only has to give hugs and kisses if he wants to, even w/us. i also use the same reasons discussed for why we don't force "please" and "thank you". those are emotional responses and we don't demand them.

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          • #6
            I suggest when your relative is about to force hug or whatever your daughter --that you say towards your child "lets ask if you are ready for a hug right now" out loud for both of their benefits. If it is NO, tell them both that hugs are better when you are in the mood for them and maybe later. Maybe a subtle suggestion to your relative that your toddler is a real person with feelings and preferences will help her understand.


            I like that idea a lot. I know exactly when to use it as it always happens as we are walking towards the door...so I'll head them off at the pass! Thank you!

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            • #7
              It was hard, but they actually took it very well when we put it in the context of teaching her to set boundaries for her own body. At first they said, "but I'm family!", but we just said that most abuse comes from within the family or close friends, and we want her to know that EVERYONE needs to respect her comfort zones.



              YES YES YES! I come from a family of "shrinks" so they ought to really get this! I love this. Thank you!

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              • #8
                I am new here, I have just been reading away. But I was stopped at this thread. I first have to say thank you for this insightful information!

                Just the other night I was talking to my husband about different things, and how I think we should not force her with giving affection. Even though it was the way the world worked when we were younger.

                I went on to say that because certain things happened to me when I was younger; I don't want our daughter to be confused about the good-touch-bad-touch talk and then from our pushing her to give another a hug or a kiss, seems to be an oxy-moron.

                I guess my personal experience lead me to think this way, but I have felt really weird about feeling this way, until this thread. Thank you for validating this, and finding the words to talk about it further to my husband and family.

                A good point was made here: Most abuse comes from the family!

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                • #9
                  Great post and very important concern!

                  I read an article from Naomi Aldort about this sort of situation. Something she suggested has worked really well for us. If family is swooping in for hugs and kisses and if I see my child is uncomfortable with the possibility of affection, I offer myself to receive the hug or kiss for them. Its nice because I can say to my non-verbal child and the adult, " it looks like Evangeline isn't ready for kisses now, but I am, can I have your kiss instead?' Usually there is laughter and kisses and no hard feelings.

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                  • #10
                    I like that a lot! "I'm ready for hugs and kisses since baby isn't"....very good...especially since these days I'm pretty much an after thought if that...takes care of two needs!

                    I had the opportunity today to practice but that auntie is sooo fast. I think next visit when it is time to say bye bye I am going to say (before we get anywhere near the goodbye stage) that we are working on a new bye bye routine where we ask my daughter if she wants to give or receive hugs and kisses. That is what my sleep deprived brain has conjured up thus far from today's experience. Gotta be three steps ahead of everyone!

                    Yes, unfortunately past experiences do color our present moments but because of those past experiences (not so nice touching) we have a greater understanding and are able to be better advocates for the current generation.

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                    • #11
                      I am SO glad that this topic is on here and that I read comments before it happened in our family because it just happened within the last week with our son and close relatives who "demand" affection even when his body language and his verbal language tell them "no." I tried to nicely explain to them that he is setting his own personal boundaries or that it's a phase he's going through right now, but it's like they just keep on pushing him. I want to run in to "protect" him, but my mom made a good comment to me over the phone last night saying that I should let him do his own rejecting so that they will get the hint from him if they are not understanding what I am saying. I guess I'll just take a step back unless I feel that it's causing any unnecessary stress to him and let him tell them "no." And believe me, it happens EVERY time when we're around the same people, so I guess it's an insecurity of theirs as they also prompt him to answer questions like, "Your so and so's boy, right?" To me, if someone was bugging me for affection without my being ready to give it to them, it would make me want to just run away and do the opposite. I just hope that they start to realize that he'll come around and give out affection when he is ready. I just see that it's hard for them to grasp this concept; or maybe I'm not explaining it well or that maybe they aren't willing to accept it. I just don't like it when people say, "Okay we can go and do such and such or I'll give you such and such but I want a kiss first." Yuck! My husband and I don't even do that to him, and he's our own son. We ask him if he wants to give out affection to us or others so it can be his choice, and now that he's almost 21 months, he's doing it on his own (or has been for a few months now). I like the comment about that mom is ready for kisses since baby isn't! I'll try that one next time! Thanks, and hugs to all the other moms out there who are going through similar times!
                      Last edited by loveleighbird; 05-13-2008, 08:04 AM.

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                      • #12
                        You know I tried letting her determine if she wanted the hugs and kisses or not but adults sometimes just don't listen or read body language. My thing about stepping in and saying something was to protect her and hopefully teach her that it is not okay if someone just grabs her face and plants a big kiss on her lips or grabs her and hugs her. I want her to beable to have the right to say "NO"...what good are her "yes's" if she is not allowed to say "no?" and I really want her to get it that it is her body to treat as she likes (and hopefully treat well.) and in doing so I hope that she learns to ask others of the same....and be respectful of their 'No's" and grateful for their "yes's"

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                        • #13
                          I agree with you on that some adults just do not listen about respecting your child's feelings with affection. I feel for the other mothers out there who may get frustrated with that (like I do sometimes) when it seems like you just can't explain it where some other adult will listen or understand. I think the adults in our family who were not listening are starting to realize it now after repeatedly observing him and maybe listening to what is explained. The adults in our family were from a different generation, so I think it was harder for them to accept it at first. Good luck to the other moms and children going through the same things! I just think that time helps all things!

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                          • #14
                            This is an issue I'm currently dealing with in regard to my in-laws and I am going to NJ for the 4th of July weekend and I anticipate having this issue there as well. I will try your suggestions. However, even when I nicely suggest something or tell them why I am doing something it causes dissension with my in-laws. But, I'd rather have issues with them than my child have issues down the line.

                            P.S. Loving the forum!

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