girl stopMy little girl is not a hugger. She’s not a kisser or a cuddler or even a handshaker. My daughter has a very select group of people that she feels comfortable giving any form of physical affection to. If you aren’t in that group, she would really rather you keep your hands to yourself.

I guess I should clarify, Brenna loves to cuddle me. She’ll curl up on my lap like a kitten any time she gets a chance. She has “kiss fights” with her dad that involve trying to kiss every part of the other’s face while simultaneously protecting yourself from the other person’s smooches. And my older brother, who she sees on a pretty sporadic basis, is allowed to pick her up and spin her in circles. In fact, she normally demands it.

It’s not that my daughter doesn’t want to hug anyone. But when it comes to anyone outside of her select few, she’s not a fan of touching. At first, we thought that it was just people she doesn’t know. But lately, even my parents, who see my daughter on a weekly basis, can’t get so much as a handshake.

Normally, my daughter’s aversion to physical contact isn’t really a big deal. Like I said, it never plays out at home. Our close family members are used to her character quirk. The problem comes when acquaintances or extended family members see my daughter at a get-together or birthday party. There’s always the expectation that every little kid will walk around hugging great-aunts they’ve never met before or second cousins that they can’t remember. There’s the parents of mom’s friend from high school who we run into at the grocery store. These people always get really offended by my daughter and her refusal to submit to hugging.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve stood there awkwardly as someone attempted to hug my child and she hid behind my legs. Often, they’ll come in and hug me instead, explaining to my daughter, “See, your mommy will give me a hug!” Brenna will glare at them as if saying, “Yea, and mommy looks so thrilled about it, doesn’t she?” Sometimes, people will look to me, expecting me to chide Brenna or order her into compliance. I just smile back.

I try to explain to people, “Brenna isn’t really big on hugging.” Either the pursuer isn’t dissuaded or they look at me as if I just said something horrible about my own child. “Not a fan of hugging? What have you done to the girl?”

While I feel a little guilty that my little girl is shunning their innocent, kind gesture, I just refuse to make my daughter feel uncomfortable when it’s completely unnecessary. It’s not like I allow her to be rude or cruel to people. She has to use her manners and be kind to people she meets. But ordering physical contact? That’s different. That’s a lot more than saying, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “It’s nice to meet you.” And if a child really feels uncomfortable with embracing, should we force them to?

I honestly have no idea what’s behind my daughter’s “No Touching” policy. Sometimes I try to invent explanations for really insistent huggers. I’m sure they always sound ridiculous. The truth is that I just have a very particular girl and she’s not a fan of physical contact. I think there are worse things in the world.

For the select few she chooses, my daughter is a very affectionate little girl. For the rest of you, she really doesn’t want a hug. She doesn’t even want to blow you a kiss. And no matter how you’re related to my parents or how many years you coached my soccer team, I’m just not going to make my daughter give you a hug. I hope you can survive the disappointment.

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