An Open Letter To Relatives During The Holidays

An Open Letter to Relatives During the HolidaysDear (loved family member),

We are excited to see you all during the holidays and love our yearly gatherings to celebrate. Our children are very excited about all the activity, food, and fun people too! We understand that you love seeing our children and giving them love and affection, but we wanted to take a minute to ask you to please partner with us as we teach our kids that they are in charge of their own bodies.

Giving our children the power to say no to unwanted touch is setting the framework for raising children who are empowered to protect themselves in a dangerous situation. We want our children to understand that their “no” should be respected and that they are in charge of what happens to their body. If we force them to show affection when they don’t feel comfortable doing so, we teach them that their gut feelings aren’t to be trusted. We also want to be careful to avoid using manipulative language to convince them to give affection. This teaches them that they must set aside their bodily autonomy in favor of not hurting an adult’s feelings. This sort of manipulative language is often used by predators and we do not want to teach our children to obey manipulation tactics. If you would like more information, please feel free to ask! This is a good link, and here is another.

So when you see our kids at a holiday gathering, we ask that you ask them if you may have a hug or kiss and if they say no, then to cheerfully offer a simple handshake or high five instead. We also would ask that you refrain from using sad faces, guilt trips, or acting hurt to coerce them into affection. If we see any disregard for our children’s answers, we will step in gently to help our kids assert their answer. We want our kids to know that we’ve got their back and that we won’t let them be forced into anything.

Our children are loving and sweet and their genuine, unforced affection is wonderful! Help us to continue to show them that they are capable of deciding for themselves what affection they feel comfortable with. Usually once they familiarize themselves with people and situations they love to show affection to those they love.

Sincerely, your loving (______________)

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and a couple rabbits. 

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