Story by Laura Mazza
“Recently relatives came to visit and asked for a goodbye hug, and my son promptly said no. This person said “ohhh come on!! Just one big hug” and I was looked at by the relative like I should encourage him by saying “go on give her a hug!”
But instead I said “that’s okay you don’t have to”…
And what may have been considered as slightly awkward or rude on my part, it’s something I’m proud as a parent to say or do.
My responsibility first and foremost is to my children. As their mother it’s my job to stand up for them when they can’t and teach them to learn to stand up for themselves.
I am their safe place, one that they trust and I won’t abuse that by insisting that they do something that makes them feel uncomfortable to be polite.
My son gets too much sometimes and wants to hug other kids, or his sister, a little too much. I can’t tell him “You can’t hug her/him if they don’t want to be hugged, but if uncle Albert demands a hug, you should give him one”.
Because I’m teaching my kids that no means no and that’s it’s okay to say no.
It means no when I say “you can’t have an extra cookie”
It means no when your sister doesn’t want to wrestle
It means ‘no’ when your girlfriend/boyfriend says ‘no’ to sex or if you or they say, ‘I’m not ready’
It means no when you say you don’t want to do something with your body that you don’t want to do. So it definitely means no when someone asks you for a hug and you don’t want to give them one.
The message is that you can still be polite, nice and a good person and still say no.
Unfortunately I know all too well what it’s like as a child to be obliged to do something and be polite as you were taught and we only have to spend 10 minutes on social media to see the statistics of children being forced into situations isn’t a low one.
But for now I’m their voice and I’m their advocate and I’ll make it count and hopefully that’ll give them the strength in all situations to remember my words and to know that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to with their body and that, no means no and walk away.”