Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodbye to hugging?

I just watched a report on some morning news show that some schools across our country are banning hugging between students as well as students and teachers.

As the mother of a hugger I have to disagree with this. My daughter's teacher always mentions how much my daughter hugs her. Not a surprise. She hugs me at such random moments throughout the day. She hugs her friends all the time. In fact, we met a little girl from another class at her school in Wal-Mart. I have never seen this girl before but the girls ran to each other and embraced like they were old friends who have not seen each other in 20 years. And each time we saw them in another aisle of the store they screamed and ran to each other to hug. We practically had to pry them away from each other. But the little girl's mom and I thought it was so sweet. They are 6 years old. And showing such affection is amazing to me.

I remember when I started hugging like that. I was in Junior High. When my mom would pick me up from school after track practice I would have to hug EVERYONE goodbye, including the coach. She often commented about my sudden hugging habit and how long it took me to leave!

If you know me I am not an overly affectionate person. In fact, my friends here in Louisiana who hug and kiss each other (including husbands they barely know - that one is for you Amy Y!) have a running joke about my defenses against asking me about my religion and hugging/kissing as a greeting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I hug. But as an adult I have unconsiously put up a barrier and am choosier about who I hug and kiss as a greeting. That said, I must admit my LA friends have broken down that barrier and it is nice to hug and kiss as a greeting. The better I know someone the more likely it is that i might actually initiate the hug/kiss greeting myself! Even with other's husbands! He He!

I'm from Ohio for crying out loud. Give me a break. We typically only hug family on greeting. And the funny thing that i noticed is that I never hug my very close friends who live here from Wisconsin and Michigan. Even if I am as close to them as my LA born/raised friends. I think they have the same upbringing on personal space and greetings!

Anyway, here is my point. The news cast showed these kids hugging. I think it is great! The world is cold enough. And i remember how it was at that age. Why not allow people to share their emotions, feelings with others they feel close with. Even if it is a teacher. Of course, as the kids said in the newscast there are boundaries to be respected but it makes them feel good. Who knows what is going on at home. Teen years can be turbulant and depending on your friends or teachers when things are rough with your parents is a good thing if you ask me. Kids need support systems outside their family.

I remember how important my relationships were with my teachers. They gave me confidence and support that my parents didn't. Not that my parents weren't supportive. They were! But, they weren't in that school with me daily. It was a type of support that a parent couldn't possibly understand or give. And in addition, having close relationships with adults outside of your parents at that age is critical. You learn about yourself. You often times absorb what they say more willingly than if from a parent. You learn about life in a way your parents might now be able to teach you just because an adult might have a different life experience. I remember one of my teachers wrote me a letter when I graduated about going off to college and leaving my legacy. He went to the same college I was going to so we had that connection. I felt connected to him in that way. And he hugged me daily. I have pictures of him and I on graduation day stashed away with that letter. At the time, his friendship was very important to me.

Why should we ban one more good thing from kid's lives? We just make our world colder. Allow kids to show affection. Allow them to build relationships. If boundaries are a worry, then teach them the difference.

Keep hugging. If you need a hug. Drive south.


Brandi said...

I 2nd that!! I, too, was a bit overwhelmed by the "huggy" nature of people here, but now I think it's kind of cool. On Elle's first day of kindergarten last year, her teacher hugged her and I was so pleasantly surprised! (I thought, now they never would've allowed that in Colorado.) Also, her teacher gave me a great big hug the last time I saw her. I think it's great. My grandma always used to say, "everyone needs a hug." So true, and especially in this world, where it can seem so cold sometimes.

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