Hug your grandma. Every chance you get. There are precious few people that will love you for the sheer fact that you are you, and nothing more. Grandmothers are one of them. So please don’t ever forget to hug them.

And maybe call them on Sundays.

I saw a tweet to a blog post about ‘telling your kids they don’t have to hug Grandma’.

Really? I felt compelled to read further…so, unfortunately, I did.

She went on to say:

Kelly keeping Grandma warm

I feel her whiskers bristle against my chin and her sloppy lips kiss my cheek, I can’t wait until this is over and I can wipe her spit off my face. She is squeezing me so tight I can barely breathe and I wonder how long this torture is going to last. She eventually lets go and I am unsure how to act, I know it’s rude to wipe my cheek and excuse myself but I feel my personal space has been violated, yet my Mum is looking at me like I should be thankful. I am 11 years old and the last thing I want to do is hug my Grandma…

Torture? Personal space has been violated? C’mon, it’s just a hug. And it’s your Grandma. 

Grandma and a few of her grandchildren

We live in a world that is far too self-centered, and this blogger’s kind of thought process only feeds this ideology. Too many young(ish) people…and I don’t just mean kids, are thinking of only themselves- day in and day out.

Now, I realize that there are people out there that struggle with being overstimulated by personal space issues, often accompanied by a diagnosis, but that is not what this blogger is posting about. At least she never mentioned it in those terms. She is speaking of what our new and improved (yes- snarky, I know) society has deemed to be autonomy. 

I looked up the definition of autonomy, and it had several entries.  The first one speaks of being a self-governing society. 

That didn’t seem to apply, so I moved on to #2: Self-directing freedom and especially moral independence. The third one went back to government-y stuff, so we’ll skip that one. 

So here I sit trying to understand why my kids all made it through their childhoods and most through their teen years and not once did they say, “But mommm, you want me to hug Grandma? What about my AUTONOMY??” Instead, they run out the front door and try to be the first to reach her car door, thereby getting the first hug. Everything stops when grandma comes over to our house.

Hugging grandma has nothing to do with personal space or my kids’ autonomy, but EVERYTHING to do learning to give of ourselves. And kids are never too young to learn THAT skill.

The blogger continues:

I am sure we all have similar memories of your childhood times where if we didn’t hug, kiss of show our appreciation to a family member we were seen as an outcast, often feeling so guilty with the aftermath that we just went along with it. 

Either she had crazy-obnoxious relatives, or an inability to cope with showing any level of appreciation and/or respect for her elders. My money is on the latter, with a heavy dose of self-pity.

aaaaand she writes more(and this is where I go REALLY crazy):

You see my worry is that when we tell children they must hug someone, even if they don’t want to, we are teaching them a lesson that they are not in charge of their own bodies or their own personal space and what someone else wants is far more important than what they want. And particularly to be giving this message to young girls worries me. The pressure for young girls to be sexual, to give themselves before they are ready is a constant. In the new era of relationships where sex seems to come before any form of intimacy teaching our young girls they don’t own their bodies does not set them up to easily say no when something gets out of hand. 

Abby and Grandma
Brendan and Grandma

Honestly, I could go on forever with this one. Is she really trying to relate a hug for Grandma, her mother’s mother, or Aunt So-and-So, to a girl being unable to set boundaries with boys? I struggle to see the two in any context of each other. This, IMHO, is just another way to turn everything into girls being oppressed. Here’s an idea…how about we teach ALL kids to think of others in a kind, loving sense of service starting when they are little? How about we take more time to point out – often – how much we are loved by others (and cherished by Grandma!)

I’m going to try to assume that the writer’s best intentions here are bred out of a lack of real-life parenting experience, because she doesn’t actually have kids, according to her bio. I truly hope, if and when she does have a child that she teaches her about the value of family. And not about how horrible it was to hug her Grandma.

The good news was that the writer’s mother also seemed to think she was off her rocker (rocker? Grandma? See what I did there?) and shot her a look when she said:

“Auntie Sarah loves you whether you give me a hug or not and I don’t mind what you do, only hug me if you want to”. My Mother threw me a look that warned me I was being rude, but honestly I thought I was teaching the most important thing to my niece, her personal space is her own, her body is her own and she can do with it what she wants. 

That’s exactly the problem. It doesn’t have to be about “her body”. It can, AND SHOULD, be about her heart, her goodness…her capacity to love.

As soon as we start talking about autonomy, we lose sight of love. When we lose sight of love…we just plain lose.



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