News in Parenting: I Don’t Own My Child’s Body
This article gives a fresh and original outlook on your child’s personal space. Katia Hetter is a mother who does not insist on hugs and kisses galore when Grandma comes over for a visit. She gives her four year old daughter a choice in whether or not it’s appropriate to kiss her Auntie on the cheek.
Hetter has revolutionized the idea of appropriate greetings in her household. Why? you might ask. To teach her daughter that her body is her own. Noone can make you do something with your body you don’t want to, not even Mom or Dad.
I was skeptical to read this article when my fiance suggested it to me. Not giving the respect needed to those who seemingly deserve it (albeit, deserve is a strong word since they win that pedastool simply from blood relation). However, after reading the article through completely, I think I may be a convert!
There are so many situations in which we tell our children to not even talk to people they barely know, much less touch them. So what does it teach them when we tell them they have to hug great uncle Mark, even though she’s never even met him before? Just because he’s related to you, he’s okay? How many sex predators do you know (maybe not know…maybe just heard about) that would use that line in an instant? All of them! Sure, uncle Mark is a sweet old kindergarten teacher, but we shouldn’t be setting the precedent of hugging people we don’t know. Not everyone has your mark of approval, and how are your kids to determine who does and who doesn’t?
Don’t worry, Hetter has an alternative. We all know how quickly relatives, especially the close ones, can get offended. You don’t want to set up bad feelings from the start before your child has a chance to do anything about it. So Hetter gives her child a choice, explaining who the relatives are and what they are to her daughter. She keeps the relatives in touch through skyping, frequent phone calls, and special presents from her daughter. It keeps the relationship up and let’s her daughter feel more comfortable with these before strangers. And it let’s the relatives feel more connected with the child.
In the end, deep relationships are built and the child remains in control of her body. Seems like a win win for everyone included.