Okay, yesterday I found this post on Mom.me by Sandra A. Miller (posted July 11, 2016) titled “Tickling Kids is Not Okay”. Well of course I read it.
I’ve never aggressively tickled my children. In fact I’ve never so much as hugged them without their permission and I’ve never ever made them hug or kiss anyone if they didn’t want to.
There are several reason for this.
First, like this lady pointed out, aggressive tickling is abuse and bullying. It IS NOT FUN for the victim. I know. I’ve been there. You may be laughing when it is happening, but believe me it hurts when people are aggressively holding you down and poking at you. NOT FUNNY. On the other hand, I happen to like the gentle tickling my husband gives me when he is being affectionate. There is a HUGE difference between the two.
Second of all, and I believe this is most important, when you show kids by your actions that they can’t control what is done to their bodies, i.e.: they can’t stop someone from aggressively tickling them, hugging or kissing them when they don’t want it, then you show them how to be abused. As I said, I allowed my kids to say who touched them, when and where, even when they were telling me, because they learned they could control who touched their bodies. Most importantly sexual abuse starts by the predator FORCING unwanted attention on the child. If they don’t know they can tell an adult not to touch them, what are they going to do?
I mean it. This includes not forcing a child to hug or kiss a relative they either don’t see much if at all, have never met before or have shown in the past that they don’t want to be around them. Just because that person is family doesn’t mean the child has to kiss or be kissed by them.
Forcing kids to hug and or kiss adults who are veritable strangers to them simply because they are visiting family members tells them they can’t control who touches them, that adults control their bodies, creating the potential for another victim of abuse.
I grew up with abuse in many different forms and I have tried hard to raise my kids without it. That’s why I taught them they could control who touched them when, how, where and how much. I taught them good touches and bad touches, and how to tell the difference. I even taught them where their private parts are and our standards of modestly keeping them covered. I talked about our standards of saving sex for marital relations, and I continue to discuss with them how they can follow that standard. (None of them are married yet.)
My hope is that by openly talking to them, they’ll come to me when they have a question so I can impart my knowledge and beliefs to them. Then, of course, it will be up to them to decide what they will do because in the end, it’s their body. They have the controls.
But I can say I agree with Sandra A. Miller. In my house we DO NOT abuse anyone by forcing them to endure any sort of torture including NOT tickling them when they don’t want it. I’m not saying nobody in this house is ever touched when they don’t want it, but then it’s a fight, and that’s a different matter. I’m still working on that one.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.