CLEVELAND — Girl Scouts of the USA is reminding parents not to force their young daughters to hug guests during the holidays.
The organization released a reminder arguing that asking your child to give hugs could give them the wrong idea about “consent and physical affection.”
Girl Scouts illustrates the following scenario, asking parents:
“Have you ever insisted, ‘Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!’ or ‘Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,’ when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.”
They say that these behaviors, suggesting a girl owes someone a hug because she hasn’t seen them in a while or they gave her a nice gift, can cause her to question later in life whether she “owes” someone physical affection because they have done something nice for her.
“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’re 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,” said Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald online.
Girl Scouts urges parents to give their daughters the space to decide how and when she wants to show affection. However, they reiterate that allowing your daughter to make her own decisions regarding affection does not allow her to be rude.