Girl Scouts of the USA has shared a reminder to parents that they shouldn't force their daughters to show affection to relatives this holiday season.
The organization tweeted the reminder earlier this week with the caption, “Forced affection = Not O.K,” linking to an article published on its website, “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not even at the Holidays.”
“Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love. But they could, without you even realizing it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection,” the article begins.
It goes on give some examples of the type of affection being referred too, including hugging relatives.
“Have you ever insisted, ‘Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!’ or ‘Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,’ when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.”
Though the article is discussing forced affection when it comes to family, the organization says this could lead girls to question whether or not they might “owe” others physical affection when they do something nice for them in the future.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “But the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.”
Bastiani goes on to say that teaching children about consent early on can help them understand their rights and when lines are being crossed, as well as teaching them when they should seek help.
But instead of a blanket ban on family affection, the organization wants to encourage parents to decide how and when they would like to show affection.
“Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely—but if your daughter is reticent, consider letting her choose what to do,” it suggests.
The article also cites some other examples of giving non-physical affection to show appreciation.
“Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her,” the Girl Scouts say.
Since sharing the advice, people have headed to social media to share their opinions on the topic.
Many have spoken out against the warning, calling it “dumb” and “nonsense.”
Please #GirlScouts Keep Your Advise To Yourself: Don't ask your daughters to hug relatives, could send 'the wrong idea about consent'— Sandpiper👑✝️✡️🐕🐈❤️ (@darhar981) November 27, 2019
I Understand The Environment We Live In.. But My Relatives Are My Loving Family..
I once was Girl Scout. #NeverAgain 😡 https://t.co/qSrHb3FAfq
It's teaching them manners. Something apparently unimportant to the new @girlscouts— Dan Gainor (@dangainor) November 27, 2019
It’s called family. It’s called love. Sorry you never experienced any as a child but stop with this femiNAZI nonsense and sell me a thin mint— Carlos Danger (@MasonE2010) November 27, 2019
But others have applauded the message.
i love that a) it’s on the girl scouts website b) the notion of consent is being more and more instilled in children c) YES to a child’s agency— lex (@ohconstantin) November 15, 2019
Normally not a big fan of regimented youth groups but the— RMHart (@hart_rm) November 26, 2019
Girl Scouts of America seem to be one of the few organizations directly addressing child consent when it comes to "hugs and kisses." https://t.co/xUF4XeCFDU
Thanks for this tweet, Girl Scouts! I absolutely wish that the family I was raised in had adhered to this practice and the greater principle at play: Your daughter doesn’t OWE anyone physical affection for any reason. Female bodies should never be playgrounds for quid pro quos.— SurvivaloftheSkeptics (@SaintLeticia) November 27, 2019
Seriously this! I hated all of it.— Heather Paine (@PaineHeather) November 27, 2019
I love that this is coming from the Girl Scouts.— 🏳️🌈Dr.Kathryn"Abortion is Healthcare"Klement✌️ (@krklement) November 11, 2019
The messages we teach our kids when they're young about consent and their bodies stick with them. https://t.co/hCWfN8Efkm
It actually isn’t the first time the Girls Scouts has raised the issue of showing physical affection to relatives, raising some hackles the first time around back in 2017, when it sparked a debate among the parenting community about whether or not children should be made to hug their relatives at Christmas.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: