Girls Scouts have issued a warning to parents, telling them not to force reluctant children to hug people and reminding them that girls don’t ‘owe’ anyone a hug.
The message comes from the youth organisation in America, ahead of the festive period when children might be forced to hug family members they don’t see often.
In a blog post, titled ‘She doesn’t owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays’, the organisation explained that forcing children to show affection when they don’t want to might make them think they always have to show physical affection if an adult tells them to.
‘Think of it this way, 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 for her later in life,’ the post reads.
They suggest parents allow girls to decide whether or not they want to show physical affection, but not force them to do it.
The organisation are advising parents not to force girls to hug people if they don’t want to
‘Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection. Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbours, and that’s lovely – but if your daughter is reticent, don’t force her. Of course, this doesn’t give her license to be rude!’, the post continues.
‘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.’
In the blog post, Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald also provided her expert take on the issue, saying teaching girls from a young age about ‘setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected’ will last a lifetime and can ‘influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older’.
The message had mixed reviews, with some parents praising the organisation but others branding the message as ‘stupid’ and ‘ridiculous’.
One mum wrote on Twitter: ‘It’s official, I am banning @girlscouts #cookies in my house this year over this STUPID message.’
Another said: ‘This is absolutely ridiculous. I MAKE my kids hug and kiss family members and close friends of the family when we say hello and goodbye!.It’s a sign of respect!!’
Actress Amber Tamblyn, who welcomed a little girl earlier this year, is one of the backers of the campaign and said on Twitter: ‘Our daughters owe no one hugs, smiles or kisses and we should start teaching them this young.’
What do you think of this message? Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!