Is there anything wrong with forcing your child to kiss strangers?
Until recently, my answer to that question was yes. I was one of those Latina moms who practically forced her children to say hello by giving everybody a kiss. I mean, I'm not talking complete strangers here, but I do mean my friends, the (Latino) parents of their friends and definitely our family members. But lately I've been thinking that this is not such a hot idea. Even though it's the way I was raised and it's a completely cultural thing, upon further reflection, I have to say that I'm simply not okay with forcing my kids to do something they don't want to do.
Now, there's a big difference between being a brat with no manners and simply not feeling comfortable giving someone they don't really know a kiss. Truly, what worries me the most is sending mix signals to my children. In other words, I'm constantly telling them that they should never ever let anyone touch them and yet I'm forcing them to kiss people they barely know? How confusing is that?
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For a long time, I thought that "forcing" my children to greet others with a kiss was okay because I was teaching them manners. I've always criticized the way Americans conduct themselves in this area and I wanted to make sure my children didn't follow in their lead. But now, after having a super interesting conversation with my co-workers, I'm pretty much convinced that this is an area where I'm in total agreement with the gringos.
A couple of our staff writers who are not yet moms said that when they were little they ALWAYS hated when their parents used to force them to greet others with a kiss. Another one of our writers who has two kids says she does force them and she doesn't really care when she gets the "evil eye" from others. The only dad in our group said he doesn't force his kids, except when those they're greeting are family members.
And I'm with him. While I'm no longer for forcing my children to say hi to everybody with a kiss, I will not allow them to get away with not greeting our family with one because I think that would be a sign of disrespect. There's absolutely no reason why my children should feel uncomfortable kissing either one of their grandmothers, for example. And that's what I was referring to before in terms of not agreeing with the way some Americans raise their kids in terms of this topic. I hate it when a family member comes to visit and the children don't even get up to greet them.
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This whole topic just goes to show how difficult it really is to live between two cultures with beliefs and customs that can be totally different.
Are you the kind of Latina mom who forces her kids to greet others with a kiss? Why? Why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments area below.
Image via mudei para flickr.com/rogianesi/flickr