Say goodbye to everyone Vivek
When I was young and my parents would
take me to a dinner party with friends or family
it was the custom for me to go around the room to
say goodbye and give a hug to everyone at
the party when it was time to leave.
This was not something I was ever given a choice about.
It was simply the way things were done.
My feelings about it were not taken into consideration
It didn’t matter if I liked the people that were there or not.
It didn’t matter if I felt comfortable with them or not.
In fact the idea that there might be some
choice in the matter never into entered my head.
I’m willing to bet it never entered into
my parents heads either.
(Maybe my mom? I’ll have to ask her)
This is the way it’s always been done
It was simply a matter of
This is how it is done in my culture
why should we question it?
I know for a fact that the tradition continues to this day.
My daughter always had a choice
I myself never made my daughter do that.
I never even made her say hello or goodbye.
It was always a choice for her.
I wanted her to listen to her feelings and
do what she felt was right for her.
That was the most important thing for me.
Being polite and respectful are good thing
I understand the idea of wanting to
teach kids to be friendly and polite.
I understand that we might want young people
to be respectful to their elders.
The difference in my thinking is that true friendliness,
politeness and respect are things that come from within.
If they come from an external authority
then they are not genuine.
Real respect is always a choice.
This means that in order to teach respect
there must be freedom.
This is why I always gave my daughter a choice.
I explained to her the value of saying hello and goodbye.
It made people feel good.
I also said that making people feel good at
the expense of your own integrity
is never a good idea.
You do not have ownership over your own body
The other problem with forcing kids to hug
all the adults in the room is that we are teaching them
they do not have ownership over their own bodies.
In this day and age when the concept of consent
is becoming more and more understood and embraced,
which I’m so grateful for,
by taking the choice away from kids about
who they touch and who touches them
we are telling them that consent is not a valid thing.
This means when they grow older
they will have this in their subconscious.
They will go out into the world not believing consent is important
If they find themselves in a situation where
someone else is saying no to something
they might feel that no doesn’t carry much weight.
Because it didn’t carry weight when they felt no.
In fact it was never even considered.
Also if they are in a situation where they want to say no
They might not feel comfortable, safe or secure in doing so
because of these experiences where they were
also not given the freedom.
Freedom, Choice and Communication
Like with so many things I believe
freedom, choice and communication
are the healthiest and most productive ways
to relate to kids.
If we treat them this way we are giving them the idea that
they have agency over their own thoughts,
their own feelings
and their own bodies.
And we are also letting them know that
other people have that freedom and agency as well.
Knowing this deep inside is where
true respect comes from
and isn’t that a wonderful thing.