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Woman Says She Has To 'Gentle Parent' Extended Family Members To Get Them To Stop Hugging Her Kids At Thanksgiving

Photo: Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock
Family sitting at the table and celebrating holiday.

The holidays can often be a struggle for some people, especially when dealing with extended family members who aren't too keen on following and respecting people's boundaries.

However, a content creator and teacher who goes by Ms. Frazzle shared the parenting technique that she uses on her family members to get them to respect the boundaries she has established for her children.

She used 'gentle parenting' on her extended family members to get them to stop hugging her kids.

In Ms. Frazzle's video, she explained that as a mother, she never wanted to force her toddlers to have to hug people, even extended family members, if they didn't want to. To make sure that her extended family members got the message, she chose to use "gentle parenting."

"Oh, macaroni and cheese, everybody freeze," Ms. Frazzle began, acting out the Thanksgiving dinner scenario with her relatives. "No thank you, Aunt Sharon, we are at holiday dinner to enjoy our time but we need to mind our own body. Your friend's body language says they don't want a hug right now, remember we talked about body language?"

Ms. Frazzle, currently on hiatus from her teaching career, has hilariously taken those same teaching skills from the classroom to the dining room table. 

   

   

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"Friends can say no with more than their words. I know you love them but loving someone does not give you permission to touch their body. Their body belongs to them, your body belongs to you," Ms. Frazzle continued. "Of course, them hugging you would make you happy, but they don't want to and that doesn't make them happy."

At one point, Ms. Frazzle recommended that the imaginary family member she was speaking to just move their body away from her child altogether. "If it's too hard for you to keep your hands to yourself and leave it be, let's go to a different spot where you can be successful."

Parents should never force their children to hug and kiss their relatives at family gatherings.

Just because a child is small and young doesn't mean that the autonomy over their bodies shouldn't be respected. While expressions of affection should be encouraged, it's crucial to balance them with respect for a child's personal boundaries. 

"Physical touch should never be coercive," Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, told TODAY. "It is super confusing to send kids the mixed messages of body privacy and body safety and then force them to do something intimate with their bodies."

   

   

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As a parent, it's your job to keep your child safe and teach them about safety measures when they start going out into the world on their own, including not speaking to or going anywhere with strangers. But in that same vein, children are also being told to kiss their great Uncle Alan and hug their cousin Georgia, when that child doesn't know them or maybe doesn't even want to do it in the first place. 

woman gentle parents her extended family to stop hugging kids at ThanksgivingPhoto: Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography from Getty Images / Canva Pro

"It is about autonomy and consent," Gilboa said. "Kids need to learn that ‘no’ is an OK thing to say and expect that people will listen."

The best way to teach consent to children starts by allowing them to express their preferences and feelings regarding physical affection.

Children, just like adults, have the right to set boundaries and their feelings and preferences should not only be taken into consideration but also validated.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.