This is the problem faced by a mum on UK parenting forum Mumsnet.
She has a three-year-old son, and her parents-in-law have a habit of playfully slapping her son on the bum every time they see him – up to 20 times in a visit.
“He can just be running around or playing and father-in-law just randomly slaps him on the bum, or if he’s climbing up onto the sofa, mother-in-law will start slapping his bum,” a user calling herself Blanchethegreat wrote.
“Just to be clear, I’m not accusing them of anything untoward. I know that babies’ and even toddlers’ bums are cute and of course I’ve patted my baby’s bum in an affectionate way when cuddling him, but they’re not his parents, he’s getting older now and I don’t like the way they do it repeatedly and randomly.
“They’re not hurting him and they are only playing around but I absolutely f–king hate it. It makes me cringe more and more as he gets older and I don’t know how to tell them to stop it without offending them.”
People who responded were split. Some told her she was overreacting.
“My two granddaughters are seven and almost four,” one woman wrote.
“Occasionally I pat them on the bottom – nothing sinister or wrong in that, just playing. They do it to me too, sometimes. I think all this over-analysing every single action in case it can be the sign of something inappropriate is mad.”
“Oh, how things have changed, and not always for the best,” another added.