Majority of people (especially these days) feel entitled to receive physical affection because of the type of relationship they have with another individual. Significant others feel entitled to intimacy because they’re in a relationship. Family members are entitled to a warm hug or a kiss on the cheek because they’re related. People feel like they’re supposed to shake hands with someone upon meeting them. And sadly, we are taught that we’re ‘supposed to’ (regardless if we want to or not) oblige to physical displays of affection or otherwise be seen as rude or ungrateful.
I feel that the root cause is dysfunctional parents. It all begins when a child is being taught to honor someone else’s feelings above their own.
I can’t begin to count how many times I was forced to give someone a hug or a kiss when I was a little girl. There were family members that I met for the first time that I had to let kiss me on the cheek (gross!). Even friends of family that I didn’t even know would demand a hug from me. And if I didn’t want to (or even acted like I didn’t want to), they would say I should because they’re uncle Charlie’s-best friends’-cousins-wife’s-son. As if that connection to a family member somehow entitled them to squeeze me into their arms, plant a big fat wet kiss and leave me stinking of their over-applied cologne/perfume. Cringe!
All this time I was being taught that I was rude, impolite and needed to learn better manners. The message to me was basically that my personal choice/space was irrelevant and my ‘manners’ needed some discipline.
Unfortunately, being taught that certain people were entitled to my physical space and body led me to accept highly dysfunctional intimate relationships as I got older. I didn’t respect my own feelings if I felt invaded or uncomfortable, I just let it happen. Because, after all, you’re ‘supposed to’ be intimate with your significant other.
Thankfully, I’ve acquired quite a bit of self worth through my experiences over the years and am changing this old and dysfunctional paradigm starting with my own children.
Never have I, nor will I ever tell my son that he has to allow someone into his personal space if he’s uncomfortable with it. Whether that be a hug, kiss, shoulder rub or pat on the head. I want him to know that no matter who or what the circumstance, people need to respect his wishes and his body.
Now that I have a daughter on the way, I feel even more of a necessity to empower her with self respect. Knowing first hand where things may lead later on down the road (like me with intimate relationships), I never want her to feel like she has to comply to someone else’s feelings of entitlement.
My kids are not rude, they are not ungrateful, they do not have bad manners, they have self worth. <3