Sometimes it's hard to know when to push your kids outside of their comfort zone and when to know that their boundaries need to be protected. Like when your kid isn't feeling particularly affectionate and a well-meaning family member is demanding a hug.
This is the problem that one mom on Mumsnet found herself in after her little guy refused to give his grandma a hug, majorly insulting her. The mom ended up not pushing her son to engage in physical affection, but Grandma didn't accept his answer and his dad was equally displeased. Now, this mom is wondering if perhaps she overreacted to her mother-in-law's request and should have encouraged her child.
User MummyOfFourBoys explained that the drama went down at a recent birthday party.
She described how her mother-in-law was clearly upset about the "snub," telling her son that he was "so mean," and things only got worse when she got in the car with her husband, who was also upset that his son had refused his mom a hug.
"Is my son being disrespectful by not doing what he is told by his grandma? Is it rude?" she asked. "Also, do I say something to her? What SHOULD I have said at the party?"
Many parents wrote in and agreed: This child should not have to hug Grandma if he doesn't want to. Others pointed out that Grandma should respect her grandson's boundaries. They argued that if the little boy refused a hug "that should have been enough for her to back off."
"Nope," wrote one user. "Consent is taught by respecting the boundaries of children."
But not everyone agreed. Some people couldn't understand the harm in letting Granny get one little hug.
"Would it really have hurt him to give his granny a quick hug?" another user wrote. "No cost to him, huge thing to his gran."
No matter how you feel on the issue, it probably is best to follow your kid's lead when it comes to gestures of affection and personal space. You can, of course, tell well-meaning family members that your little one is "not feeling cuddly today" or see if your kid will go in for a high-five. And who knows? Maybe if you give your kids a little space, they'll eventually warm up to Grandma and ask for a hug on their own!
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.