Mum says grandparents don’t have the right to force hugs, kisses on kids

Apr 23, 2021
The mum says adults should be asking for a hug, not forcing children. Source: Getty

An Aussie mum has taken to video-sharing platform TikTok to discuss children’s consent, slamming adults for forcing affection or “guilt tripping” kids into cuddles. The mum pleaded with grandparents to “do better”, to help teach children that they have the right to say no — even to grandma and grandpa.

Brittany Baxter explained that she had been teaching her daughter, who is almost two, about consent since she was born, but still faces criticism when she explains to people that they must ask her little girl for a kiss or a hug.

In the video the mum called on others to start “normalising the fact that kids do not have to kiss and hug adults”, saying children shouldn’t be forced to give up their own “body boundaries” to make someone else feel loved.

“I find it really f***ing unhelpful when the adults in her life are like, ‘We have to ask for a kiss and a hug?’ Even though I’ve explained multiple times. And then when she says ‘no’ they’re like ‘oh, she doesn’t love me, my feelings are hurt’ and then they proceed to overstep the body boundaries anyway,” Baxter says on the TikToK video. “My daughter and her body do not exist to make anyone feel more comfortable, or to make anybody feel more loved.”

@brittanybaxter_xI said what I said… #gentleparenting #consent #fyp♬ original sound – Brittany

Baxter adds that the issue is ingrained in us culturally, and it is time to stop overlooking the issue of consent. “It is not her fault and it’s not my fault that the older generations haven’t taken the time throughout their entire lives to learn how to regulate their emotions/feelings so consent doesn’t continue to be overlooked,” she says.

“No one’s feelings are ever going to be more important than my daughter’s right to her own body. And I am sure as s*** not going to allow her to grow up in an environment where 1. she doesn’t know how to say no, and 2. she doesn’t know what it looks like … to be respected.”

Baxter finishes the video with a simple-yet-pointed message to grandparents to “do better”.

The video has copped both criticism and praise, with one user confused as to why any kid would say no, writing, “Wow. What kid wouldn’t want to hug their grandparents if their grandparents are good grandparents? I will hug them till the day they die.”

Others highlighted the cultural implications, sharing their stories of growing up in a culture where it was expected to always kiss your relatives on the cheek. One user wrote, “Love this. I grew up with a culture where kisses on the cheek are part of greetings. Absolutely hated it but was told it was how to show respect and didn’t feel like I ever had much of a choice. It creeped me out SO much when a grown man would do it that I would hide or just not want to go out. Never thought of this experience from childhood within the context of consent. Sorta (sic) blocked it out. Now I’m p***ed. Relatives [are] gonna (sic) hear about it.”

Another said culturally it’s a must for grandparents, “Are you kidding me? Other adults, yes, but grandparents? It’s a cultural thing.”

Many others applauded her efforts and shared their own stories of trying to teach their children consent. “This is so important! My husband and I are teaching consent as well and rcntly (sic) started ASKING for hugs/kisses instead of saying ‘give me a hug’,” another mum wrote.

“I always ask my nephew if I can get hugs before leaving. Sometimes he says no and it makes me sad, but it’s his body and he should get to choose,” one shared.

While another user felt that Baxter should be taking the issue up with her family directly, saying, “Happy to say that my daughter or daughter (-in-law) would talk to me [about this] directly, and not put out a blast on social media.”

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