This is just a reminder to well-intentioned parents out there to be mindful of your kids and treat them as humans not as playthings, especially around family and close friends. I am guilty of this too where I tend to pressure my son to hug and kiss every single person (when only handshake can suffice , at least for the men). I also ask him to show his dance moves (which is fine) but than I almost bully him into it, and the other day I had an overwhelming sense of guilt for doing that. Like he is some type of amusement for everyone to smile and laugh at!
Not sure if he took it the same way I did, but I vowed to treat him with respect and have him be emotive within reason but not pressure him into it. It’s easy to want to please everyone, and in some cases that may result in living vicariously through your child. It’s also easy to justify “harmless” fun when your surrounded by loved ones, but the cliché of putting yourself in their shoes can reveal a lot.
So in the interest of being more mindful of my son’s emotions (even if he doesn’t complain or show any negative immediate reaction) – and with the intent of being more respectful of him as he grows up and matures I’ve decided to follow a few simple rules when were out visiting family or friends:
- He doesn’t have to kiss and hug everyone, a fist bump works well these days a handshake is fine too. If he decides to hug and kiss that’s up to him
- Ask him to dance or sing in front of everyone – don’t force him. If he’s resistant beef his confidence up with complements. If he still doesn’t want to – then he doesn’t have to!
- Try to read his body language and if he’s a little upset or angry, nip it in the bud early and take him aside (not in front of everyone) and ask him what the deal is.
- Avoid being over critical or teasing him too much in front of everyone – what may be a joke to you as a comment too far for him and rightly so. We wouldn’t do that to adults why should we expect kids to just roll it off their shoulder as a “joke”?
- It’s never too late, and if you are guilty of any of these things and realize them after the fact, bring it up to your kid and make sure they know you recognize that what you did may not have been nice and they are human beings after all to be respected.
They trust their lives to you, so never take advantage of that trust and use them as amusement or bullying targets to get a few laughs from others.