Katia Hetter wrote a fantastic essay at CNN, titled “I don’t own my child’s body”. It’s in response to the Sandusky molestations, and is worth reading on its own for that reason.
It’s also impressive because it captures the spirit of genital integrity as part of the more general realm of children having rights separate from their parents. Children are individuals, too. I most respect that she explains that her child is an individual while still demonstrating that she parents her child. Recognizing and respecting a child’s individuality and self-ownership is a part of parenting, not a suggestion that, as a result, parents may not make any decisions for the child. Some ardent circumcision advocates, masquerading as advocates for “parental choice” (for sons only, somehow), trot out the latter, absurd trope whenever someone suggests that children own their healthy, normal bodies. This essay serves as an effective disinfectant for that nonsense.
My daughter occasionally goes on a hugging and kissing strike.
She’s 4. Her parents could get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least right now. And I won’t make her.
“I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it,” I told her recently.
“I don’t have to?” she asked, cuddling up to me at bedtime, confirming the facts to be sure.
No, she doesn’t have to. And just to be clear, there is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.