Thursday, June 21, 2012

"I don't own my child's body."

A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to a thought provoking CNN article by Katia Hetterer. You can read it here, but the general message the author conveys is that occasionally, her 4 year old daughter goes on a hugging and kissing strike (which happens, as most parents of young children can attest to).
Her parents could get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least right now. And I won't make her... I will not override my own child's currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
 Not friends. Not extended family. Not own family.

How many times have I, as a mother, told The Munchkin to give someone a hug or a kiss? Many. As I read through the piece I reflected back on the many times that when The Munchkin shook her head no, said no and ran in the other direction, or just flat out refused on the spot,  and I said something to her that could have caused her to relent. For a child who has such a strong will (and a strong will she does have) this is one time when she will do as I wish or ask and not what she wants to do.

In short, I began to realize that I need to change my modus operandi. A long time ago I decided I wouldn't allow anyone to guilt The Oldest into feeling like she had to do something or had to go somewhere. She's an old soul and has more empathy in her pinky finger than many adults will be able to muster up over the course of a lifetime and because she's a people pleaser she's easily persuaded, guilted (is that even a word?), or made to feel like she should do something because it will make someone else happy. I never connected that telling her she needs to give someone a kiss or a hug could put her in equally a difficult position.

I work hard to nurture my two girls in the hopes they will become caring, strong willed, independent and intelligent women with both book smarts and people smarts. I want them to be resolute in what they believe and feel as though they can stand up or speak out when they feel they have been wronged. But mostly, I want them to trust their instincts - to believe in that gut feeling, to be able to know that they are doing the right thing without second guessing should they find themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable and to do that - it starts with my saying exactly what the author has: I won't make them.

1 comment:

  1. Joy, I agree 100%. Great post. As a mother of two, I too want my kids to be intuned to their inner voices. And while I'd like to think I let them lead the way when it comes to how they interact with people, I totally needed this reminder.