Friday, December 2, 2011

now ... give your uncle a kiss

I found this post at The Current Conscience quite poignant in light of the holiday season and the heightened attention to child sex abuse. Excerpt:
How often, especially during the holidays, are children confronted with moments like this one: a relative comes to visit and the child’s parents say something like, “Now, give your uncle a hug and kiss.”

And when the child refuses to provide physical affection, or hesitates at the request, they sometimes hear things like, “You’re hurting your uncle’s feelings. It’s not polite. Now, go give him a hug and kiss.”

Some of us even remember our relatives asking us (some may say pleading or begging) for affection, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug and kiss? Please?!”

I think this insisting and cajoling of a child into showing physical affection towards an adult is incredibly dangerous. Whether it’s a relationship between a child and his/her relatives or one between a kid and an adult who is an acquaintance, family friend, mentor, this type of behavior, in which children are expected to show physical affection as a sign of respect, is something I think we all need to be careful about.

For me, it’s about the issue of when a child gives us the sense that they don’t want to be physically affectionate with someone, and our tendency to encourage the child, at that particular moment, to abandon their intuition and instinct. It’s a small step towards the erosion of that child’s sense of self-trust.
At that moment, we are telling them, “Forget about how you feel. Do something that makes you feel uncertain and uncomfortable, so that someone else (an adult) can feel acknowledged and respected.”
Read more at The Current Conscience >>


  1. Yes; I think your point about how fear-mongering, exploited by the media, prevents real understanding and positive solutions.

  2. Good article, I think. One of its minor points:

    "Well, our childhoods have never been innocent (now or ever)."

    is true, but not for the reason stated. It quotes the false statistics on child sex abuse. Although this crime is definitely a problem, an exaggerated position creates a credibility problem. Many agencies stand to gain by fear-mongering in this subject, which does not help our understanding or lead to solutions.

  3. I like a lot about this article, but one thing in particular is teaching our kids to trust their "gut", or instinct, and allowing them to decide what is comfortable for them rather than making that decision for them (when it's not our business to do so). Too often I work with adults who have a very tenuous sense of self in large part because as kids their feelings/expressions of feeling/need were poorly  validated. 

  4. Yes! That's beautifully put, and so true and important. Thank you.


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