How do you feel about perfect strangers touching your child? You’re either in one of two camps when it comes to this, either you’re cool with it or you’re not.
Is this though, a world gone mad when a lovely old lady in the supermarket aisle can no longer admire your child and interact with them or is it simply, completely out of line to make contact?
It would appear, after US woman Melissa Willet penned the following open letter which was later posted on the BabyCentre website, that the overwhelming majority are very much on her side when it comes to interaction with children from a stranger in public.
Have a read:
“Dear stranger who grabbed my baby’s hand at the grocery store today, and other strangers who think it is okay to touch my baby,
My preschooler is learning to keep her hands to herself. Perhaps she could teach you a thing or two about how it’s done.
Step 1: Don’t touch something, or someone that does not belong to you.
Step 2: Repeat step 1.
I understand the urge to touch a baby. Okay, I don’t really, but I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. You saw my baby, thought she was cute (who could blame you?), and without thinking, reached out, and squeezed her adorable, dimpled, little hand. I’m urging you to think first the next time you are overcome with an urge like this.
You see, I have no way to verify that you haven’t recently been sick, or come in contact with someone who is sick, or touched something that is covered in germs. So while your contact with my daughter lasted mere seconds, the repercussions on my family could last for a month. Let me break it down for you…
As soon as you walk away, having gotten your fill of cute baby for the day, my daughter will inevitably put her now germ-laden hand in her mouth. Then, within a few days, she will come down with a cold, a stomach bug, or worse. Soon the virus will spread to her two sisters, and possibly to us, her parents. Our lives will be put on hold; my kids are now out of school, I feel like crap, but have to take care of everyone, and if we’re really lucky, my hubby will stay home from work just to make things super fun!
So please, don’t touch my baby. Or, if you MUST touch her, here are the spots that are okay: her foot, her elbow, her hair. But only the foot if it is covered with a sock or shoe, and only her elbow if you don’t look too creepy, and only her hair if I know you fairly well. So really, just don’t touch.
Smile, wave, sing, dance, do what you must. But HANDS OFF. We cool? Great.”
Commenters were mainly supportive although some less so. Here’s a selection…
I totally agree with you. Adults do not respect the personal space of babies and children. I bought a sign that hangs from my baby’s car seat and if says, ” Please be kind and wash your hands before touching mine.”
An open letter to over-reactive mothers with condescending written articles:
Get over yourself. You’re wrong. Don’t go out if you don’t like social interaction with your baby. You know little about being a human.
Totally agree! My daughter hated being touched by strangers… or anyone other than her parents for a while as a toddler. Once, an older well-intentioned lady at a store put her hand on my daughter’s cheek and my daughter responded very appropriately… She screamed at the top of her lungs. I asked the lady if she allowed and enjoyed strangers touching her face and she looked at me as if I had two heads… And I said, “Exactly. Remember that children have personal space bubbles too.”
With respect, be careful for what you wish for. We live in a world in which the human touch can have the capacity of healing, brightening our day, and moreover it helps us feel that we are part of the human race. It can be a very negative thing going through this life without the human touch, especially if we are teaching our children to be cold and sterile towards someone they don’t know because of our own fears…
Personally, all I know is that my own 74-year-old mother was a bandit for doing this sort of thing, so maybe I’m coming at it from a different angle.
If she came across a child on her weekly shopping trip, she’d grab their little hand and dance a little jig with them if they smiled at her. She didn’t accost them, she simply loved that lifeline they gave her to the beauty that is childhood.
If it brings joy to an otherwise joyless world, is it so bad? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about anything inappropriate, I’m talking about someone, innocently wanting to connect with a child, if just for a moment.
As for the hygiene issue, come ON, when your kid hits daycare or preschool, a pensioner’s hygiene habits are going to be the LEAST of your problems. Plus, this letter, to me, just felt a little bit grinchy.
But that’s just me.
How about you? Do you have a problem with this? If so, why?