My Kids Do NOT Have To Hug You If They Don’t Want To :: Yes, You Read That Correctly

My Kids Do NOT Have To Hug You If They Don’t Want To :: Yes, You Read That Correctly

Growing up in the South, part of our culture is to greet each other with a hug. This tradition has been ingrained in us from a young age. I vividly remember my mom saying, “That is so, and so; go give them a hug.” I don’t remember having a choice to give this stranger (to me) a hug. I knew I would get in trouble if I didn’t hug this person, yet I did not know I had the option to decline a hug. Hugging others is something that is done often, and it is thought of as a crude gesture to not hug someone (even when you don’t know them). Giving someone the “Southern required hug” is something that stuck with me as I grew up. As a young child transitioning to a young adult, I gave hugs because I didn’t want to seem rude (even if I felt uncomfortable). As I’ve grown, I’ve realized how problematic this can be for boys and girls alike. Forcing a child to hug someone can seem harmless, yet you are essentially teaching them that they do not have autonomy over their own bodies.

Through my growth and development, I’ve learned to be comfortable with not giving the “required Southern hug.”

As a mother, I use my knowledge regarding boundaries to teach my children to reject the “Southern required hug” if it makes them uncomfortable. My son and daughter have the right to decide who they will hug, and greetings do not have to include any personal touch. My kids have attended family gatherings, and they greet everyone verbally, but they choose who they decide to hug because they have that right (yes, my children have rights). Believe it or not, I’ve had family members say that my kids were rude for not giving them or someone else a hug. I’ve explained that my children are not required to hug anyone if they feel uncomfortable. Needless to say, I was not the most popular mom at family functions for a little while, and I was ok with that.

Teaching my son and daughter this has taught them that it’s ok to have boundaries. It’s acceptable to speak to someone and not feel like you must let them touch you. I hope they grow up knowing what they are comfortable with and respecting others’ boundaries. Because when you force your child to let someone who is a stranger hug them, you could potentially teach them that they do not own their own bodies.

Vivian Winters
Vivian is a true country girl, having grown up in the small town of Loreauville, where her family owned a farm. She moved to Oakland for several years, where she discovered her passion for travel and seeking new adventures. As a proud Ragin Cajun, she earned her bachelor's degree from UL-Lafayette and later completed her master's degree at UL-Monroe. Vivian and her husband have been happily married for 13 years, residing in the Lafayette area with their two delightful and funny children and two large dogs. Their son is 9, their daughter is 8, and their furry companions, a brother and sister pair, are 3. Vivian and her husband often find themselves playing the role of "Uber" for their kids, chauffeuring them to numerous extracurricular activities. As a self-proclaimed foodie, Vivian cherishes living in an area with fantastic food choices. Whenever she can find a moment to herself, you'll likely find her enjoying music, catching up on TV shows, and savoring those precious moments of peace and quiet.


  1. Great read! I’m loving that you’re not letting society decide what’s ok and not ok and that they have a choice and a voice. Awesome job, mom!

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