Thursday, 28 June 2012
"Stop being a brat and just kiss ____________."
I remember getting in trouble when I was little because I did not want to give a kiss to a family friend. I was adamant that I did not feel comfortable touching my lips to someone I did not know, yet I was given an ultimatum that put my dessert at risk of being confiscated. I was not okay with my parents dictating how I should use my body. I have always been an advocate for empowering youth and encouraging them to think for themselves. For these two reasons, when I stumbled across an article describing how one women is raising her child- I was both impressed and inspired. Katia Hetter (original article here) describes how she does not force her daughter to show any kind of physical affection to anyone she does not want to. To me, this is doing parenting right.
Reading Katia's article, I found myself physically nodding in response. Children may not be old enough to make major life choices, but they are old enough to be able to choose what they do with their bodies. Empowerment is important and should be fostered from the early years of one's life. Youth should feel that their body belongs to them and is not a tool to please others. There is not much that one can definitively own, but your body is among the limited list and should be treated as such. Children have their own opinions on what is right and what is wrong. In many cases, this perception of what is okay is overridden by the rationality of adults- but when it comes to physical affection, kids should be allowed to make the call.
What stands out the most to me is how often affection is traded by some kind of reward or aversion to a negative consequence. In my personal example, I was provoked to trade a kiss for getting dessert. Though this might seem innocent, it reeks of something more sinister. Though nowhere near as extreme, trading affection for some reward is a kind of prostitution. It also gives an impression that it is okay to use your body to get what you want, that it is nothing more than a tool for the enjoyment of others. This is completely against the empowerment I hope to see given to children.
When/if I have children, I want to make it clear to them that they are in control of their body. It will not be mine to own and I will not pretend that I do. I will also not enforce the idea that they can trade affection for reward. Though I feel like this is obvious to me, I admittedly had not considered it until I came across this article. It is brilliant, in my opinion. Children should be taught that they can say no.
Empowerment is crucial.
What do you think of this stance to parenting?
Growing up, were you forced to kiss/hug family?