How to Handle Unwanted Physical Affection

We teach our children to be kind, to be polite, to not hurt others feelings. Then, all of a sudden, our children become adolescents and often, someone starts attempting to give them physical attention. In the back of our child's mind they might be thinking, "I have to be kind. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings." 

This places them at risk to accept the physical affection because they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or make the other person feel awkward. 

Parents, this is dangerous. We can't expect our children to know how to react in these situations if we don't have serious discussions with them and make sure they know what is appropriate. 

Of course, we teach our children to be kind but we should also be teaching young boys and girls that your body is your private personal space and no one should cross over into it without your permission.

Etiquette rule: A lady and a gentleman do not show physical affection to someone of the opposite sex in a casual relationship without the other person's permission.

I once was teaching a group of young teens and we talked about this etiquette skill in the class. Afterward I had a young lady come up and ask my advice on a situation. She told me, “Every Wednesday night I go to my church's youth group and at the end of the service the minister stands at the back door where we all leave and he gives us all a hug goodbye. I know that he's just trying to show how much he cares about us and he doesn't mean anything inappropriate by doing so. But, I don't like it and it makes me uncomfortable.” 

She truly believed he had the best intentions but she said, " I don't know how not to when everyone else is doing it."

This is such a common question I get from teenage girls, women, and even young men and husbands.

How did I answer that young girl? I told her that her minister shouldn't be doing that. It's not appropriate. I told her that next time her minister tried to hug her, all she had to do is take one step back and extend her hand for a handshake. Or, if she would rather, she could give him a "high five." There would be a chance that there would be an awkward moment and the minister might say something like, "What? You don't like hugs?" 

There is always that chance but we have to teach our children to have confidence and be brave.

What helps children have confidence is understanding that it's not impolite for them to refrain from hugs. That it's their decision what they want to do with their body and the other person should respect that.

Parents, we have got to equip our sons and daughters with the confidence and the skills to be able to know how to handle unwanted physical affection. 

For more resources and a more in depth discussion on this and more check out our Dating Guide for Ladies and Gentleman HERE.