I recently read a blog post that was shared by several friends that gives seven reasons why “your child should never be forced to hug anyone.” You can read the original post here. (content warning, it’s a little crude.)
When I read the title, I immediately knew it would be easy to logically shred the argument because it’s difficult to use words like “never” and “anyone” without exceptions. And this title is no exception.
For example, what if the child’s refusal to hug is clearly an act of rebellion? You’ve just disciplined her, and in order to show that you still love her you request a hug. She refuses. Well, now we’re in a pickle, because anyone means you, and never means never.
Instead of simply giving lots of “what if” statements, however, I’d like to analyze each of the reasons outlined and share my 2 cents.
1. “It Teaches Your Child That They Don’t Have Control Over Their Own Bodies”
The writer starts off this point with, “This is particularly relevant for female-presenting people.”
Side note: Female-presenting people, for the uninitiated, means the dictionary definition of female. I guess since some people have tried to redefine what “female” means, they’ve since had to create a new word that means what the old word meant. If you change a word it doesn’t change reality, but isn’t it at least a slight bit embarrassing when you have to makeup a new word to take the meaning of the old?
It sounds like she’s saying, “How dare you teach your child they don’t have complete control over their body.” But do we really have “complete” control over our own bodies? Even the law is written such that it’s illegal to take your own life. There are limits to what you can legally do with your body, and there are limits to what you can morally do with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
Our bodies are the temple of God, and they should be revered as such. That means we should respect our own and other people’s’ bodies, and treat them in a manner due to the temple of God.
2. “It Implies That You (Or Adults in General) Have the Right to Touch Your Child How They Want, When They Want”
Oh that is chilling, but the logic still falls far short of a happy meal.
Remember, the writer started by writing “never,” and so just one case of a “what if” that disproves the “never” ruins this statement as well.
There were instances when I was forced to hug people when I was growing up, and I made it through to adulthood without believing this statement. In fact, I would argue you can easily overcome the concern that your child might believe anyone can touch her however they like by telling her: “Just because you are being forced to hug right now doesn’t mean that all adults have the right to touch you however they want, whenever they want.”
She goes on to say:
Adults are the authority figures in a child’s life. This is a necessary, natural state of being because honestly, who else is going to show them the ropes?
But make sure you’re showing them the right ropes.
Please tell me what the right “ropes” are? What are you basing your truth upon? Can anyone make up their own “ropes” and decide they are truth, and teach those to their children? If so, then who are you to tell me how to raise my kid?
3. “It Tells Them That Relatives Can’t Be Abusers”
Good. I don’t want my child being suspicious of their relatives. If there is a reason for me to be suspicious, I will take on that responsibility.
It’s truly sad that the author of this post had to experience what she did. She should know that no child’s innocence should be taken from them, and that to me includes knowledge of true evil in the world. They will grow up, and will need to learn eventually, but it’s enough for them now to know I will protect them.
4. “It Disregards Your Child’s Comfort Zone”
This is really the only reason containing some logical truth. It is important to respect your child’s comfort zone. However, there is a balancing act that must be achieved, because part of the parent’s role is forcing kids out of their comfort zone when it’s appropriate.
How else will they soar if they’re never pushed out of the nest?
5. “It Risks Dismantling Their Natural, Healthy Sense of Stranger Danger”
If you read the original article, under this point you will see the author suddenly twist and make this a racist issue. I don’t know where she is coming from, but it doesn’t logically connect to her main argument, so I think we’ll just say it’s false and move on.
6. “It Ignores Any Important, Subtle Cues Your Child Is Trying to Tell You”
This reason forgets what the main argument is even about. It’s only valid if the premise is “always forcing your child to hug is never a good thing.” However, that isn’t the argument. The argument is that your child should never be forced to hug anyone.
Sometimes, never forcing your child to hug is ignoring important, subtle cues your child is trying to tell you, such as, “I really need a hug right now, but I’m too proud and I don’t want to let you know.”
7. “It Sends the Message That Hugging (Or Physical Contact in General) Is the Only Way to Show Affection or Appreciation for Another Person”
Once again, this reason gets completely away from the original premise. How is forcing your child to hug occasionally, or even just one time, sending a message that it’s the only way to show affection?
It’s not, because once again, this “reason” is assuming a different starting point.
The author originally told us this was going to be a logical argument showing why “your child should never be forced to hug anyone.” I have shown how logically every “reason” has errors that do not support the conclusion. The last two “reasons” aren’t even supporting the original conclusion, but instead are saying “always forcing your child to hug is never a good thing.”
There is a middle ground, in which as a parent I can contextually decide in a situation if I should force my child to hug. Hopefully if I’ve shown one thing, it’s that being radically against forced hugging, or radically for forced hugging are both untenable arguments.
I believe it extremely dangerous that Christians read this and agree without recognizing the underlying assumptions behind the message.
It is a sinister message that says children are their own masters, and that they should be allowed to choose everything about their lives. That means they should choose what to believe, what to wear, how to act, and even what sex they want to be.
Remember that the author told us to make sure we’re showing our kids the right “ropes.” She understands there is truth, and it can be known and taught. She just can’t admit there is one Truth.
Parents, we have a responsibility to raise our children in a responsible, Christlike manner. As Christians, we have a firm foundation of Truth upon which to base our teaching, and we need to have a firm understanding ourselves before we can impart wisdom to our children.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”