woman with concern look on her face
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
January 2, 2024 ·  6 min read

Mom Praised After Explaining Why She Never Makes Daughter Hug Her Grandparents

An Australian mom took to TikTok to say why you should never make your child hug someone. Brittany Baxter begins her video by asking, “can we please start normalizing the fact that kids do not have to kiss and hug adults?” and she sparked an important discussion about consent. 

“What, we have to ask the child for a hug?”

“My daughter is almost two years old, and I’ve been in the process of teaching her consent since basically the day she was born,” said the mom. “And I find it really f****** unhelpful when the adults in her life are, like, ‘what, we have to ask for a kiss and a hug?’ even though I’ve explained why multiple times and then when she says, ‘no,’ they’re, like, ‘oh she doesn’t love me, my feelings are so hurt.’

“And then they proceed to overstep her body boundaries anyway.” Often, this overstepping comes in the form of guilt-tripping, complaining, acting sad, or pushing the issue. 

Brittany says that it’s not her daughter and her body’s responsibility to make people feel more comfortable or loved. “It’s not her fault, and it’s not my fault that the older generation hasn’t taken the time throughout their entire lives to learn how to regulate their emotions, so consent doesn’t continue to be overlooked. No one’s feelings are ever going to be more important than my daughter’s right to her body.”

The mom’s main concern is that her daughter learns how to say no and have her refusals respected. She finishes the video by saying: “Grandparents do better.” [1]


I said what I said… ##gentleparenting ##consent ##fyp

♬ original sound – Brittany

Read: This Mom Teaches Her Daughters That Virginity Doesn’t Exist And Her Reasons Are So Important

The Response

For the most part, Brittany’s concern was applauded. One person commented, “This is so important! My husband and I are teaching consent as well and recently started asking for hugs/kisses instead of saying, ‘give me a hug.'”

“I myself even ask my daughter for a kiss,” says another comment. “If she doesn’t want one, that’s her choice! I don’t feel any less loved when she says, ‘no.’”

A lot of people agreed with this approach. Many cited their own experiences with being forced to endure hugs and touch that made them uncomfortable as kids. However, not everyone liked the video, particularly those appalled at the idea of not getting hugs from their kids and grandkids.

“I encourage my 21-month-old to bond with my parents, physically and emotionally, and she is so connected to them. I really don’t get your anger,” said one commenter. 

But Brittany didn’t shy away from the critics, making another video to address this comment. “…Have you actually asked your child if that’s what they want and if that’s what they need, or are you encouraging and fostering that relationship because it meets your needs and it meets the needs with your parents?”

She added that her own daughter has a great relationship with her grandparents, who ask for a kiss and a hug and “98% of the time” respect when she says no. [2]

Read: 8 Truths we Should Tell Our Daughters Before They Become Adults

Why You Should Never Make Your Child Hug Someone

When a parent gives a child a command like “clean up your toys,” there are implications of negative consequences if the child refuses. In other words, a parent is saying that it’s important that the child obeys, no matter how they feel.

The same negative implications stand with the commandment of “give Grandma a hug.” It’s essentially telling the child to show affection whether they are comfortable with it or not. And teaching a child that they must comply with adult requests for affection no matter how they feel teaches them that they don’t have full autonomy over their bodies. And that’s a dangerous lesson for them. 

Kids who internalized this message of “you can’t say no to an adult if they ask for affection you are uncomfortable with” are more likely to be sexually abused and not tell anyone about it. After all, they didn’t learn that saying no is an answer that should be respected.

To send a healthy message to a child about their body, allow them to make decisions based on their comfort level. Make a household rule that no one has to endure physical contact they don’t want, whether it’s sitting in someone’s lap, being tickled, etc.

Ensure that children know that they don’t need to show physical affection just to please someone else. They should know that they are in charge of their body and they choose who touches them. And they won’t be punished for standing up for their boundaries. [3]

Read: Schools Urged To Give Lessons To Boys on How To Respect Women

Creating Healthy Relationships

So if a relative asks for a hug, a parent could step in and say something like, “Would you like to give a hug or wave goodbye?” Making it clear it’s okay for the child to pick the latter. Also, shaking hands and high-fives are options they may be more comfortable with. Some relatives may need to be told not to force or guilt-trip the child for affection. Remember, the relatives are the adults in this situation, and it’s their responsibility to ensure the child feels listened to and comfortable around them. It’s not the child’s responsibility to ensure they feel loved.

Although it may feel embarrassing if a child shies away from physical affection, it’s better than teaching them to ignore their instincts and feelings. Teaching children how to assert their personal boundaries could help them create healthy platonic and romantic relationships in the future. Saying no to hugs is a safe way to give children their own autonomy (as there are many situations where parents should have the final say, such as bedtimes and taking medicine.) [4]

Similarly, the lesson goes both ways. If a child is eager to embrace others, parents could teach them to ask for the hug first and to pull away when the other person looks uncomfortable. 

Also, teaching kids to override their feelings for the sake of others could lead to negative associations with what should be positive touch. Meanwhile, teaching consent will allow the child to express positive feelings in a healthy way, which is the entire point of physical affection. [5]

Keep Reading: ‘We’re constantly asked for pictures’: Teen researches why sending naked pics is now normal

  1. Belinda Cleary. “Mum explains why grandparents don’t have the right to hug her baby.” MSN. April 19, 2021
  2. Jonas Grinevičius and Mindaugas Balčiauskas. “Mom Explains Why Grandparents Can’t Hug Her 2-Year-Old Whenever They Want And Have To Ask For Consent.” Bored Panda. April 26, 2021
  3. Amy Morin, LCSW. “Why You Should Never Make Your Child Hug Anyone.” Very Well Family. March 13, 2020
  4. Kirsten Clodfelter. “Reluctant Hugs: Why You Shouldn’t Force Kids to Show Physical Affection.” Parents. December 22, 2016 [5] August Thornhill. “Why you shouldn’t force your kids to hug relatives.” Today’s Parent. August 28, 2019
  5. August Thornhill. “Why you shouldn’t force your kids to hug relatives.” Today’s Parent. August 28, 2019