When uncle Bob arrives for Christmas lunch this year, don’t force your daughter to give him a hug. That’s the advice The Girl Scouts are giving parents this holiday season.
In the post, titled “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug,” the Girl Scouts warn parents about giving young girls the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.
“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,” the post reads.
Instead, the organisation suggests kids can show affection with a smile, high-five or even an air kiss, advising parents to, “Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection.”
The post, which has been shared over 7,000 times on Facebook, has divided opinions. One commenter wrote: “Could not agree more. Doesn’t matter if it’s male, female, old, young, etc. I will never force my daughters to give someone a hug in exchange for a gift, a visit, a compliment, etc.”
Others have disagreed completely, with one commenter saying, “No girl is going to seriously think she has to get physical with a guy to be polite, just because she had to give Aunt Betty a hug at Christmas when she was little.”
Extra or not, the post has started an important conversation about consent and autonomy. It’s never too early to teach a girl that her body belongs to her – and her alone.