Should parents tell their children not to hug relatives?
That's a question the Girl Scouts have raised with an essay on their website, "Reminder: She Doesn't Owe Anyone A Hug. Not Even At The Holidays."
"Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life," the essay reads, urging parents to allow children to make their own decisions about physical contact with relatives.
Homeland security expert and CEO of Zemcar Juliette Kayyem agreed.
"I actually think you want to teach kids empowerment of their own decisions about things like physical touching. You don't have to be embarrassed if you don't want to hug someone," she told Boston Public Radio.
While some outlets criticized the advice as overly "politically correct," Kayyem pointed out it's not much different than what parents tell their children about personal security.
"People can make fun of it, but it's the same message we give our kids every day on a personal security level, that they own their own sense of security, comfort, and they have to assert it at a very early age," she said.
Click the audio player above to hear more from Juliette Kayyem.