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Should children be made to hug relatives at Thanksgiving?

The Girl Scouts of America have caused a huge debate in the parenting community about whether children should be made to hug their relatives at holidays.

The Girl Scouts of America have caused a big debate after saying children shouldn’t be forced to hug their relatives at Christmas. (Photo: Getty Images)

The children’s organization warned parents not to encourage their daughters in particular to hug family members who give them presents.

Why?

Because young girls may feel that they “owed physical affection” to someone who gives them things later on in life. For example, a man who buys them a drink or dinner.

Titled “Reminder: Your Daughter Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays,” the essay was issued in response to the ongoing sexual harassment allegations against well-known members of the the film industry.

Some parents think it’s important to teach girls about consent from a young age. (Photo: Getty Images)

“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 have bought her dinner, or done something else seemingly nice, for her later in life,” the Girl Scouts wrote.

Instead of encouraging hugs, it said “there are many other ways to show appreciation, thankfulness, and love that don’t require physical contact. Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss, are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her.”

Some experts have disagreed with the advice, accusing the Girl Scouts of causing a “mass hysteria.”

New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor told ABC News that parents shouldn’t make children, “afraid of who they should not be afraid of.”

However, developmental psychologist for the Girl Scouts of America, Dr Andrea Bastiani, added that “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.”

Naturally, plenty of people have spoken out against the words of warning, with one dad labeling it “ridiculous.”

 

A lot of parents, however, agreed with the advice, saying it’s important for young girls not to feel pressured.

 

The advice coincidentally comes at the same time as Pixar co-founder and Disney Animation boss John Lasseter agreed to take a six-month leave of absence after being accused of giving “unwanted hugs” in the office.

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