Should we ask for consent before kissing our kids good night

Should we ask for consent before kissing our kids good night

My husband and I are having a disagreement about hugs and kisses at bedtime. We have a 4-year-old boy and a 2½-year-old girl, and they share a bedroom. We’re always teaching them that they are in charge of their own bodies and who touches their bodies, and about asking before touching someone else’s body.

After brushing teeth and reading a story, my husband and I each tuck one of the kids into bed. My script is “I love you and I’m proud of you every day,” along with a quick plan for what will happen tomorrow, then a hug and kiss. Then we switch kids and do it again before leaving and closing the door.

Now here’s where my spouse and I disagree: What happens if we ask for a hug or kiss and they say no? If we say, “It makes me sad that you won’t give me a hug or kiss,” is that forcing them (through guilt) to show us physical affection?

Now I readily admit that I have done this with my son in the past, and I now regret it. But hearing my husband say that to my daughter riled me up. A girl shouldn’t be guilted into or forced into letting anyone touch her, including parents for a bedtime kiss. Parenting in the #MeToo age has given me a different perspective.

However, my husband thinks it’s just as valid for him to state his own feelings, just as we ask them to do when they have a conflict (e.g., “It makes me mad when you take my ball”). There have also been nights when we are summoned back into the room for the hug and kiss they had earlier refused.

Am I being overly sensitive, or is my husband teaching her that someone else’s desire for her affection is more important than what she wants in the moment?

—Overthinking Body Autonomy Mom

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