When my boys were young it was standard practice to have them make the rounds upon entering and leaving a family gathering to give the aunts, uncles and grandparents a hug and a kiss. My boys are men now and no longer need to be reminded to show a little affection for those they love and who love them. They do it willingly and sincerely, not out of a sense of obligation.

It can be awkward for kids to show and express affection, as much as they might love and adore their Grammy and Grandpa, a little nudge or reminder is a helpful way to teach them that expressing their feelings is a good thing, not only for them but for their loved ones as well. But, don't tell that to the Girl Scouts of America.

Girl Scouts developmental psychologist Dr. Andréa Bastiani Archibald says teaching young girls to hug and kiss is a bad thing. Girl Scouts.org says Dr. Archibald believes that expecting your child to offer a hug or kiss to a visiting relative or someone who has given them a gift "can set the stage for her questioning whether she "owes" another person any type of physical affection when they've bough dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.

"The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn't pertain to children, but the lessons girls learn when they are young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.  Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help."

Dr. Archibald reflects the views of many in the progressive movement who would marginalize the role of men, and family in general, in the lives of young women.

As news headlines would suggest, there are certainly plenty of men who would take advantage of unsuspecting young women in our society, but to condemn a generation of girls to a life of not experiencing the joy of loving and being loved by family and friends is evil and wrong. I suggest that something fairly horrible happened in Dr. Archibald's life to make her feel as she does and for that I have deep sympathy and pity.

To be loved and taught how to express love is among the greatest gifts we can give our children. It's something we could use a whole lot more of. So, hug and kiss as many young ones as you encounter as your family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and teach them that love is a force for good and not evil. They will spread the message.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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