OPINION | Kasey Silvia: Asking Kids to Show Affection to Loved Ones Won’t Damage Them
The holidays are a special time to reflect on all of life's blessings, including loved ones. Families gather together at Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes for the first time in a long time. As a kid, I remember my mother and father telling me to greet each family member and hug them as if I hadn't seen them in ages (even if it had only been a few days). It was always understood that this could be the last time you see this person, for we never know what the future holds. So holding onto each other and saying I love you for the few moments we are together is a small request if it means knowing you are blessed to be loved by so many wonderful people, and have another year to celebrate together.
The Girl Scouts recently published an article on their website that opposes my family's view of asking children to show affection during the holidays.
Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.
I know whoever wrote this meant well, but I have never once associated my parents asking me to show affection to family members with "owing" anyone absolutely anything.
Although my family is very affectionate throwing hugs, kisses, and "I love you" around like confetti, that doesn't mean that all families, and not all kids, are like that. I understand if a child (girl or boy) is hesitant and shy, especially around people they hardly know, including family they don't see often. But I don't agree with assuming that a parent asking their little one to show affection to a loved one will damage their perception of "owing" another person any sort of physical contact when they're older.