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June 29, 2012

The Parenting Ref

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 7:21 pm

Remember way back when, I asked you to play the “Marriage Ref” and settle one of our little marital disagreements (for the record, I won that round). Well, we’re back . . . this time you be the “Parenting Ref”! Even if you don’t have kids, you were one once, so we want to hear from you!

Here’s the deal: Addison has never been much of a cuddler. Honestly, one of the main reasons we kept her drinking from a bottle as long as we did (nearly a year longer than our pediatrician recommended) is that it offered one of our few opportunities to hold her close. But offeredis the operative word, because that opportunity often proved illusory.

This picture kind of says it all (thanks, Ishkhanoohie). I brought out a bottle almost for the sole purpose of snuggling and positioned her on my lap in the corner of the couch. About two seconds later, she nonchalantly crawled to the opposite end of the couch to lounge in independent comfort. *Mother heart breaking*

Of course, this was just a few weeks before our move to California when all Addison-hell broke loose and this type of rejection could no longer even be defined as rejection in comparison. Although since December she has not been that same screaming, yelling, hitting, kicking child, the mommy rejection has certainly continued in milder form. She routinely yells, “Get out! Get out! Want daddy!” when I enter her room. And true to her non-cuddly nature, she actively fights giving hugs and kisses to her nearest and dearest, though Neal faces this reluctance less often than the rest of us.

Which brings me to our point of disagreement: Neal feels a sense of respect for Addison’s physical boundaries. I’m trying not to inject too much of my own Neal psychoanalysis, but he seems to feel some pride in her independent nature and thinks that we should not force her to give kisses or hugs (feel free to elaborate on your feelings in the comments, Neal).

I, on the other hand, think that she is being a willful two-and-a-half-year-old and we need to keep reminding her that it is appropriate and thoughtful to give goodbye/goodnight hugs and kisses to beloved family members. In my mind, it’s analogous to the way we are training her to say please and thank you even though her natural inclination is to simply demand things. (Of course, we’re in agreement that her tendency to yell “Get out!” at everyone except daddy needs to be curbed.)

So, what do you think? Give it to us straight. Oh, and feel free to psychoanalyze to your heart’s content.



  1. Sorry to hear about the love loss. It is hard when a family member doesn’t give you the emotional closeness you need. (In my case it was my mother not wanting all the hugs I had to give.) Unless this turns out to be a symptom of a larger and more serious behavioral problem, I agree with you that small hugs and kisses from a two year old are expected social behavior and you are teaching her a social norm. Maybe just stick to greeting and farewells for the time being.

    Comment by Emily Larkin — June 29, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  2. I can totally relate because Wyatt is not an affectionate kid at all. I have to say I agree with Neal on this one–it’s important to respect children’s physical boundaries. “Please” and “Thank you” are signs of respect that can be expected, but I think that signs of physical affection are up to the kid to give, or not. She may never be a “touchy-feely” person. When the choice is theirs, it makes it that much sweeter when they do show affection. In a journal-worthy moment this morning, Wyatt said “I love you Momma, you’re precious.” I think kids who aren’t that into hugging should be given the option to give a friendly wave, or maybe a fist bump. 🙂

    I do agree with Lindsay on the “Marriage Ref” question! 🙂 If the baby’s there, it’s definitely a “family outing”!

    Comment by Sarah — June 29, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  3. Another vote for Neal

    Comment by Steve — June 29, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  4. I love this picture! Her chubbiness is so cute with her bottle! I like when children are independent, though it may be difficult for you when she’s three and again when she is a teenager, but keep in mind that she will be her own agent! No one will make her do anything that she doesn’t want to do and she will be a very strong adult! But I know that this day is far off. In the meantime, I would just give her kisses and hugs and annoy her to death. And maybe she will become more used to it and less annoyed. This is what I did with James because he would never cuddle unless he was being nursed, even as a newborn, and would stop cuddling the minute nursing stopped (I think that may be part of why I loved nursing so much!). But now James will give hugs and kisses (right on the mouth—maybe we need to tone it back a bit now because he has gotten very romantic with me lately….) But good luck and of course she loves you even if she doesn’t show it physically!

    Comment by Christina — June 29, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

  5. Hmm. I agree with Neal theoretically but I suspect he has an easier time since “WANT DADDY” means that he isn’t dealing with the same problems as you are 🙂 I know Peter would RELISH it if kenners wanted him that vocally.
    So I think I agree with the previous commenter (Christina) when she says to just go for it haha. Maybe you could strike a compromise where she might not have to be as physically affectionate as you want but more than she has been.
    Also it’s nice to hear other stories about other baby’s temperaments. Kenners loves to look at everything except me when she’s eating and I’ve (of course) worried that by not breastfeeding her I’ve killed that cuddling time. Luckily she’ll cuddle at other times but we always exclaim that she is just a baby and has no right to any preferences yet 😛

    Comment by kei02003 — June 29, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  6. That’s a tuff one – I have cuddly kids, and I love to cuddle with them, but I, as a child, would have liked the respect Neal thinks is apporopriate. Maybe she already does something that is her way of showing affection – I liked the fist bump idea 😉 I’ve done butterfly kisses and eskimo kisses with my kids – I think I’ve seen you guys do that too. Maybe that’s more her style . I do agree with you that the get out needs to be tackled, no suggestions, but I’ve heard parents try – “no thank you” as the right response, as opposed to the negative one.

    Comment by Enelo — June 29, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  7. DISCLAIMER: I am not a parent. And it always makes me feel a little sick when people who aren’t parents give advice to those who are.

    But since you’re asking for feedback, my sense as a once-infant is that when kids feel forced into things, it builds resentment. And it seems dangerous to do that with physical affection.

    I think we put too much pressure on really young kids to be affectionate with adults. Adults tend to expect way more hugs and kisses from kids than we do from older family members. It makes sense to teach Addison to say please and thank you, because it’s clearly preparing her for the adult world and giving her some basic tips for better communication skills. But as an adult, she isn’t going to have to kiss, say, her uncle every time she sees him–certainly not if she doesn’t like kissing him.

    I think I might have some of the same thoughts as Neal on this, about independence in a young girl being admirable. My penchant would be to protect that independence by trying to explain it to adults in her life, but also without labelling her as ‘the don’t-touch-me kid.’ I can’t help but think that in freedom, she’ll figure out how she wants to show affection. She’ll learn that hugging and kissing others can be a way to make them happy, without losing her innate sense that she has a right to her physical boundaries, and can tell other people No.

    (SECOND DISCLAIMER: I’m an ideological anarcho-feminist, and I think that’s where a lot of this is coming from. But ideology is probably a really worthless thing when it comes to the logistics of raising a young human.)

    Comment by Katy — June 29, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

    • I’m definitely NOT an ideological anarcho-feminist (mainly because I can’t be bothered to try to figure out what that all means, so if I am, it’s only lackadaisically) but I basically figure that within a certain realm, it’s good to teach a kid that they have the power to say “no” to certain things, and those things should mainly pertain to their bodies. It’s NOT okay to be rude, to shout “get out!”; it’s always necessary to do SOMETHING to show courtesy, kindness. . . it’s important for a kid to be pleasant. But there are a lot of ways I think they can do that. I just wish more people accept MY desire to just get away with high-fives when it comes to family get-togethers. I think there is one cousin on Lindsay’s side so far who supports THAT idiosyncracy. Thanks, Jessica. High-five.

      Comment by neal — June 29, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  8. Also, for everyone giving sort of middle-ground advice, pick a side! We’ve got to tally this up tonight! To quote my wife, “There must be a winner, and a loser!”

    Comment by neal — June 29, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

  9. I read this article just a couple days ago and have been wondering if the logic ever since. According to the article kids feel that the have to share their bodies with other people so as not to offend, which has the potential to lead to disasters such as the Sandusky case. The article seems to be all opinion and very little proven evidence, but it did make me think…

    Comment by Natalie Pace — June 29, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

    • p.s. sorry for not picking a side. I guess I would pick Neal’s if forced to make a choice. Better safe than have your kid molested, right?

      Comment by Natalie Pace — June 29, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

      • p.p.s. sorry for the typos…just pretend you understood what I was saying

        Comment by Natalie Pace — June 29, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

  10. Hmmm…tough issue, but I’m going to go with Neal here. I just read an article called, ‘I don’t own my childs body.’ Along the lines of some other commenters, it made me see the possible dangers in teaching kids to think they have to have physical affection with adults. Plus, some kids are physiologically hypersensitive to touch, and being close can be uncomfortable/painful for them. I have a nephew like that. I think it’s important to teach them to be polite about declining physical affection (which you’ve touched on), and maybe offer alternatives (high fives or handshakes if they don’t like hugs). But on the whole, I don’t think you can force a super non-cuddly kid into the typical behavioral mold of affection– or at least without making yourself crazy. 🙂

    Comment by oncallmom — June 29, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    • In Lindsay’s defense, this isn’t a little girl with any body issues, nor is she traumatized by hugging. When we say our prayers and then say “hug time!” she’ll get a big grin on her face and run away, as fast as she can. Or, she’ll be picky about who she hugs. Some nights, it’s only gramps, and us parents get the cold shoulder. Other times, it’s everybody except mom. You can almost see her brain working, and the mischievous look on her face when she chooses to single someone out for NOT getting a hug. If this morphs into relational aggression, I’m going to lock her in a closet until she’s 18, and I might have to eat my words. I suppose we can take another vote later on whether locking kids in closets is acceptable.

      Comment by neal — June 29, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

      • Exactly. She is playing you *because* you’re making a big deal of it. Kids are smart and they figure out fast what bugs you. If you quit making demands of her and ignore the running away behavior, it will stop being reinforcing for her to behave like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon she is demanding to join in on family hugs if she is the only one not participating and no one is giving her any attention at all for her refusal.

        Comment by Lisa — July 8, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  11. I’m going to agree with Neal, too. Sorry Lindsay. If it is any comfort Lillie was not always a cuddler and then a switch turned on and she loves it. Teach Addison to blow kisses.

    Comment by missy — June 29, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  12. A lot of good food for thought. Keep it coming, people! It made for a very lively debate around the lunch table; I love those.

    And, of course, Neal had to illustrate it with comics that alternately make me and our daughter look like monsters:

    Comment by llcall — June 29, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

  13. I agree with Neal for two reasons. One is that children don’t have a lot of control over things in their lives, and what happens with their bodies *should* be one of the things that no one else has control over. Unless it’s something like pulling them out of the street when a car is barreling toward them. If you don’t own and control your own body, what do you have control over?
    The other reason is that if a child learns that she should hug people to make them happy, especially if they are people she *wants* to make happy, then it tells her that what she wants to do with her body is secondary to what others want her to do with her body; that using her body to make others happy is more important than her own feelings/desires. Now, while I can see the point that this might make a child more likely to accept the actions of a sexual predator, that’s not the tack I’m going to take. I’m going to draw your attention to the teenage boy with whom she will one day become infatuated; you know, the one with all the hormones? Who will be so happy if she gives him that ultimate physical affection that she may not be ready to give. Now, obviously as adults we can see the difference between a nice, appropriate hug, and sex. But to a child or a teenager who has been taught to give physical affection to make others happy? That’s a slippery slope. Especially when *she* will have all those hormones running wild, too.
    I know the teenage years are kind of a long way away, but I believe in giving children autonomy wherever possible so that they develop the confidence to make the bigger choices, and make them right, when they’re older. That way they can make their mistakes young, while they’re still small mistakes that you’re able to help them fix.
    The plus side? It sounds like she really does want to hug you (because she loves you), and once she is sure you aren’t going to push it she will probably start initiating hugs.

    Comment by Megan — June 30, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  14. Ok, so usually I’m biased toward you Lindsay, because you’re such a good friend. But even though I’d love to side with you for the sake of siding with you 😉 I’m siding with Neal on this one. We have the same issue in our parenting dynamic with Katie, and maybe it’s not fair because I’m the one Katie prefers. But I feel very strongly about giving kids choice with their bodies and affection. Not that I don’t ever cajole or push Katie a little bit in certain situations (grandma and grandpa, and the like). But when she truly resists, I respond by pulling back the expectation; we usually try for something like a high five but often she won’t even do that and that’s ok (unlike Addison, Katie is quite sensitive/shy in a lot of social situations; Addison may be comfortable with more than her). Interestingly, Ryan and I have found that one of the reasons Katie feels more comfortable with me (and often tells him to leave the room just like Addison tells you) is that I respect her boundaries so much. On days Ryan has resisted the urge to smother her with love and attention when he spends time with her, he has found her coming to him spontaneously for attention and affection. I learned lessons on this when I was dating. “Let them come to you” has become my motto with attracting boys and children. Its just no fun to get forced “affection” anyway. Although hugging and kissing is pretty normal behavior at greetings for many people, it doesn’t have to be, and it probably will be easier for Addison to do when she’s older and understands the reasons behind it and you can differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate contact. I taught a sexual abuse awareness and prevention program to elementary school children, and I really liked the program and it taught the importance of not forcing children to give contact they don’t like. I think it’s important if only because they may form a negative association with what should be pleasurable physical experiences.
    Also, every kid really is different. As an example, my twin brothers have been different about comfort with physical affection since birth. “P” would give hugs and kisses and cuddle on demand and “M” would run the other way if you came near him with those intentions. But every once in a while, “M” would approach and give spontaneous kiss and hug. Those were all the more precious to me. At kindergarten screening, we found out they both have Asperger’s, so “M”‘s discomfort with contact makes sense (M’s is much more severe than P’s). Although I still think he needs opportunities to expand his comfort level, if there is one thing my family has learned about “M” is that forcing gets worse than no where.

    Comment by Victoria — June 30, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  15. Random internet stranger here. *waves*

    I’m sorry to say…I agree with your husband. I haven’t read the other comments yet so forgive me if I’m repeating what someone else has said, but I think it’s really important for kids to have control over their own bodies as much as possible. It’s their body and they need to know it’s okay for them to decline physical touch that they don’t want, especially when it’s coming from an adult. It’s important from both an emotional as well as a safety standpoint. This is especially true for girls. We’re socialised that we have to put up with unwanted touch for the sake of politeness, and it’s just not a precedent you want to be setting.

    If you want to teach manners, I think you’re fine to prompt her like “Do you want to give Auntie Jane a kiss goodbye?” without putting any pressure on her to do so if she doesn’t want to. You can also model the behaviour yourself. She’ll pick it up eventually.

    I also think that trying to force affection usually backfires. If you let Addison warm up at her own pace, she’ll probably be more comfortable with it in the long run.

    Anyway, I feel weird unloading all this parenting advice onto you, but, well, that’s my take on it. Your daughter is very cute! I can understand the temptation to push for more affection when you don’t have a cuddler. My daughter isn’t much of a cuddler either.

    Comment by Sarah @ — June 30, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  16. The way you so delicately put it about reminding her that it’s appropriate and thoughtful seems like the perfect balance of respecting her boundaries yet teaching her how to be a kind and loving person. I don’t think asking “are you going to give daddy a hug?” infringes on her control over her body any more than asking “are you going to say thank you to daddy?” It’s her choice in both situations as your stance didn’t include anything extreme, forceful, violating or directly leading to an increased susceptibility to predatory acts. That being said, the post did include some revisionist history as you were certainly the loser in the Marriage Ref case. 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth — July 1, 2012 @ 12:10 am

    • No way, dude, I totally won the Marriage Ref case even if YOU did not side with me 🙂

      Comment by llcall — July 1, 2012 @ 12:20 am

    • P.S. I just got another vote on that one from Sarah in comment 2 above (who didn’t weigh in on the original post). That victory was decisive.

      Comment by llcall — July 1, 2012 @ 12:22 am

      • Have you seen the show? A panel offers opinions, but the host decides on his own and the number of votes is completely irrelevant. Since no one was explicitly announced as the chief decision maker in your case, and since no one has demonstrated a better knowledge of the show than I have, I’m pretty sure that means mine is the defining vote. 🙂

        Comment by Elizabeth — July 1, 2012 @ 2:39 am

      • Hey, I thought you didn’t watch TV, Ms. Elizabeth. Truly, you have a dizzying knowledge of the inner-workings of that short-lived NBC series brought to us by Jerry Seinfeld.

        Comment by llcall — July 1, 2012 @ 3:06 am

  17. How much affection does she see between mommy and daddy? G rated, mind you! Daddy should be giving Mommy lots of hugs and cuddle time, and visa versa. Genuine affection, not foreplay; it’s different She needs to see it to understand how it’s used and how it’s valued. Again, the fact that she may have a sensory problem with being overstimulated by touch or certain fabrics – common with kids on the autism/asbergers scale, never seen it in another child.

    I think every mother has the desire to cuddle with her baby. However, a mother should be able to redirect that emotional need into a healthy outlet if the child isn’t willing. Maybe asking yourself how you might redirect it could sooth you faster than waiting for her to grow out of it some. BTW, my 2 year old (almost three) used to be EXTREMELY cuddly, and now every night he refuses to give me so much as a kiss good night. I say, “All right. Night night,” and before he gets to his room he’s back for a single kiss. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it, since the others have as well. Don’t let this increased independence in an already independent child cause too great a conflict. But you’re absolutely right about rudeness. Ignoring it is probably best at this age, unless you’ve already made an issue of it. Try to model gracious behavior. I think 2 is the age they learn the most important lessons from their parents – as an adult, how should I respond to somebody totally unreasonable? Ideally, adults are patient, gracious and consistent, and she’ll learn that by watching how you respond to her “rude” behavior. Pray hard!

    Comment by TakJensen — July 2, 2012 @ 2:19 am

  18. Seth’s ideas were that if your two-year-old was screaming and whining, you wouldn’t say, “That’s just how she communicates.” You would teach her the appropriate way to ask for what she wants. Or if she refused to eat anything but fruit snacks, you wouldn’t say, “That’s just what she wants to eat.” You would teach her that there are important things for her to eat to keep her healthy. If she was older and more developed, it would be different. But right now, she needs your help to develop properly, and physical affection toward family members is an important part of that.

    We also thought that it was a great point that you and Neal should model affection for her.

    Comment by Nikki — July 2, 2012 @ 5:51 am

  19. Howd, I’m going with Neal on this one. I think Addison is probably at the stage where it’s good _for her_ to learn to set the boundaries of physical contact.

    Of course you can always let her know you want the hugs and cuddles, and she’ll decide when she’ll give/accept it. “I love the hug you gave me yesterday. Can I have another one?”

    Atilla is starting into the wilful stage. My colleague has suggested to keep life playful for a while, that role-modelling does pay off (when the kid is 5+yo). Atilla has also started to demand Dada.

    All the best.

    Comment by ST — July 2, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

    • another note: my colleague has 2 boys, and has had advice from a child psychologist regarding her ‘difficult’ first son. The parenting advice works quite well when dealing with the second son too.

      Comment by ST — July 2, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  20. As a camp counselor I learned a good techinique for dealing with this. Ask the child if they want a goodnight hug or a handshake. You are still teaching them social skills and that family interaction of saying goodnight to each other is expected. I don’t like forcing personal boundaries. This works well even if my kids and I have had a hard day. They may be mad at me and not want to hug me goodnight. But they will shake my hand. They like having a choice. It worked with grandparents too. When my kids were younger they needed a day or two to warm up to our visitors. If they gave my kids some space and accepted the handshake, in their own timing they would give out hugs freely.

    Comment by Michele — July 2, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

    • I like the idea of giving Addison a choice — I do this for a lot of other things, but hadn’t thought to do it for this. I think for now I’m going to stick with the choice of kiss or hug, but I appreciate your thoughts here, Michele.

      Comment by llcall — July 4, 2012 @ 1:34 am

  21. oh, one possible reason why Addison prefers Neal may be because he doesn’t force the issue of hugs and kisses???

    Also, what does hugs and kisses mean to Addison? Is it a sign of affection? Is it a farewell gesture?

    I never quite know what connections my kid has in his brain. I’m trying to shovel as many words as possible, so he can explain why he simply has to pour his milk onto the floor. Or why mummy won’t do as a comforter.

    Comment by ST — July 2, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  22. I’m coming from the perspective of a person who does not hug, was forced to hug as a child, “give sugar” to adult family members, and what not-and also from the place of a parent of three kids. (one is 18, one almost 8 and one 5) My youngest son is very, very anti touching. Holding his hand is hard, because he doesn’t like the sensation of having his hand held. So you can imagine how it goes over when someone asks him for a hug.

    And maybe you can’t imagine what it’s like for me as an adult to be in a situation where a little kid is being cajoled into hugging and/or kissing me, and act which makes me intensely uncomfortable and that I would prefer to avoid anyway. But I’m not into it, and they’re not into it, and I TOTALLY get that. So I side with letting a kid decide who they want to touch and who gets to touch them.

    Even hand shaking spreads germs, anyway. If kids don’t want to shake my hand, that’s really just completely fine. Bump elbows, blow kisses, wave hello or bye. These are made up cultural customs, they’re not laws.

    Comment by Summer Page (@sickerthnothers) — July 3, 2012 @ 12:07 am

    • Thanks for weighing in, Summer. I agree that these are cultural customs, but after considering all the feedback and talking things over, I’ve decided that the goodnight hug/kiss is an important part of the family culture that I want to create. Luckily, Addison isn’t totally anti-touch; she’s just not really cuddly either. I know I’m never gonna break that down.

      Comment by llcall — July 4, 2012 @ 1:38 am

  23. I would go with Neal on this one too. I don’t like to make my daughter go to anyone she doesn’t want to and that includes me sometimes. If she shakes her head, she doesn’t have to go. She will eventually decide when she wants to “cuddle” and hen she does, you can be there waiting for it! 🙂

    Comment by *~* J *~* — July 3, 2012 @ 1:42 am

  24. Hi! VIsitor here.
    Saw your hubby’s post on The Weed. Your family sounds a lot like mine, in that I have a VERY independant 2.5yr old. As my husband translates for him (from memories of himself as a young child) seems to think that it is an honor to touch him, wait on him, and serve him. And he adamantly reserves that honor for whoever is his favorite at the moment… almost always Daddy if he’s home, but Mommy or Grandma will do.
    Anyway, he’s had a “bubble” since the first time we took him out in public when he was 2mo. and he is just now starting to get past that… Our experience has been that he absolutely resists to the Nth degree (and often becomes very anxious and emotional) any physical contact with people who he percives may touch him without his express permission, but those who have been extremely patient and respectful of his “personal bubble” he can be quite friendly with… Hubby’s secret is creativity and mildly immature obnoxiousness.
    Latest example: we were eating dinner a couple months ago and hubby squished a fly in the air, which got the boys’ attention. Eeeew he exclaimed loudly for dramatic effect and then he pretended wipe it on the more affectionate big brother who requested “Again Daddy!” After many repititions on several occassions it became a sort of inside family joke… that all the males in the family act out regularly. Soon my husband was able to encourage little mister independant to wipe a fly on a friendly lady at church and a few extended family members. That has created a silly, non invaseve base on which to build a little friendship and those who were willing to play along and giggle with him, he now allows to hold him regularly. We do have to explain his strange behavior to new inductees of his little club as no one would understand his shushing them (so he can sneek up on an invisible bug) and then clapping loudly and gently slapping their clothes (wiping invisible squashed fly on them) while giggling is not an aggressive act, but a friendship initiation.
    He has been more affectionate with me as I have learned to play along with his various moods and fantasies. I resented having to at first, (as the Mom I deserve hugs right?) but it never got me anywhere…. and a 2 yr olds world as it turns out is kinda fun 🙂
    My husband also allows people to pay him pennies for hugs… which I absolutely did not approve of, but it did shrink the bubble. Hubby volunteers to keep track of the pennies for him and then gives them back to the donor for reuse next week when toddler isn’t looking.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Mom of 3 — July 5, 2012 @ 3:54 am

    • Wow — sounds like your family is full of innovative tips! I like the bug-squashing thing, very unique.

      Comment by llcall — July 5, 2012 @ 3:59 am

  25. Well…. I’d kind of side with Neal. I guess you have to figure out the why she is doing it. A friend gave me good advice once ^_^: we all love our kids, and just do the best we can not to f*ck them up entirely.

    The 2 reasons I’d side with Neal:
    1) if it’s to get a rise out of you and a power trip over you, trying to force hugs may make her more combative (my experience w/ my 2 1/2 yr old, who had a similar situation)

    2) if you start teaching her that it’s ok to have her personal space “violated” (obviously not what your intent is, but maybe how it comes across to her little mind) against her will, that could have some pretty awful consequences, theoretically …

    For MY own kid, I’d let them know they are in charge of who touches them when or how, but keep a dialogue about how much a mommy loves to hug her baby etc…

    Comment by Jill — July 8, 2012 @ 4:19 am

  26. I’m a caregiver for infants and toddlers. I sometimes ask a kid if he wants a hug, but I would never force a child into it.

    Comment by Rivka — December 16, 2012 @ 3:29 am

  27. To some people, touching, physical contact is extremely important as an expression of affection. Other persons with different personalities feel different. Don’t describe this as “rejection,” it isn’t.

    Comment by Rivka — December 16, 2012 @ 3:55 am

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