Uncle is hurt by toddler’s refusal to hug


Dear Amy: I’m hoping you can shed some light on this subject.

Is there any justification or logical reasoning behind some of these new parenting trends, specifically one that grants basically full autonomy to a toddler to make his or her own decisions?

One that is particularly irksome is letting said toddler choose whether or not they want to hug an immediate family member.

I’m not referring to distant cousins or relatives that are never seen or have only met once. I’m not talking about complete strangers (which of course I would never expect anyone to automatically consent to physical contact), but more like a grandparent or aunt/uncle who are very present in the child’s life!

On two recent occasions, I — a very close uncle — was denied a hug. This was the choice of the 3-year-old. This choice was reinforced by the parent.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t hurtful.

I can’t ever recall a time when I didn’t want to hug or kiss a close family member growing up, and as I got older, it meant even more as we gained the wisdom of how precious life is.

These days, I’m not much for human interaction/contact given the current social climate, but for the five to 10 seconds a hug lasts with the nephew, all the problems in the world seem to go away.

How will this type of upbringing affect young children as they get older?

— J in NY

Dear J: If you had focused on other choices toddlers might make — such as deciding when their own bedtime is, or deciding to pull the cat’s tail — I’d be in complete agreement with you.


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