As a parent of little ones, NOTHING bothers me more than when random strangers come up to my kids and touch them. Be it their hands, feet, head, face, it all really irritates me, especially the face.
If, when we are walking our dog and people want to pet him, they will always stop and ask first. It’s very rare that they just go ahead and pet him. Why? Because we have a big dog! He’s half Lab, Half German Sheppard, and screams – Don’t touch me unless you ask my dad or mom first, because unless they say is it okay, don’t bother. So, people get permission first.
My dog is as protective as he is a sweetheart. If people want to touch my dog, I don’t mind, he’s always running and rolling around in the dirt and gets filthy. It’s his birthright. So, if you have germs on your hands and you touch him, who cares? He’s going to give you a handful of germs right back. But my kids are a different story.
When a baby is born, pediatricians recommend keeping the little one away from people for 4-6 weeks minimum as their immune systems and defenses are low and still building. For this reason, many moms/parents look forward to going to doctors appointments, just to get out of the house. Makes sense. I, however, have noticed a growing number of new moms taking their babies out earlier and earlier. Hey, you are the parents of your child, who am I to judge. I know that for me personally, staying home for 6 weeks with my first was tough. Cabin Fever was very real for me, and I had all sorts of people advising against it and telling me I had to stay home with the baby, it was best for the baby… What did I know, I was a new mom. By my second and third kids, I was out as soon as I had healed enough to comfortably walk. Both my mom (who had 2 kids) and Mother-In-law (who had 6 kids), helped me to feel comfortable with this decision. I took the necessary steps and covered my little ones, but I still got looks and yes, some people were even bold enough to comment.
“How old is your baby?” Followed by “… And, you’re out already?”
Initially, I tried to just smile and be polite, but I grew tired of people feeling so comfortable expressing their opinions, that I decided to express mine.
“Yes, My baby is 4 weeks old and yes, we are out already. I have other children who will get restless if I keep them indoors all day, so I’m out!”
I didn’t owe anyone an explanation. A simple yes would have sufficed, or no comment at all. I just liked to challenge some people for questioning me as a parent. Ironically, the same people who would comment on me being out with my kids would then extend their hands to lift the blanket that was covering them in their car seat, to sneak a peek or grab their little foot or hand. With my first, I was will admit that in the beginning, I was timid. It was awkward, I didn’t know what to say or do. I felt helpless. Thankfully my husband was way better at speaking up and I soon found my voice again as well. What I don’t understand is, if people are so concerned about me having my baby out so early and being exposed to germs, why are they exposing my baby to their germs? I tried strapping my kids to me using the Moby wrap and covering them completely. One person actually went so far as to attempt to pull the wrap back some so they could see my little ones face. I said, “Excuse me!”. They quickly pulled their hand back and then asked. I gave a look as if to say – Seriously! This child is literally strapped to my body. I wouldn’t just walk up to you and pull the collar of your shirt out to look down your shirt. It’s the same thing.
I get it. A pregnant woman’s’ belly and the little bundles of joy that come out of them are cute, but that doesn’t give people the right to just walk up to them and touch them. Have you ever seen someone walk up to a stranger and touch their abs just because they are wearing workout clothes? Or walk up to a teenager and just grab their hands or pat their heads like they were cute little dogs? Nope! Have you ever seen someone walk up to a random stranger and lift their shirt? No! So why do people walk up to expecting mothers and just touch their stomachs without asking? Would a stranger walk up to another stranger, totally disrespect their personal boundaries by getting in their face, then proceed to make random noises that make no sense?
Nope, not unless they were drunk and looking for a fight. And yet, babies and young children are forced to deal with this obnoxious behavior every day.
Now, I’ll be honest, once upon a time, I was very OCD. A huge germaphobe. Having kids changed all that. No matter how much sanitizer and wipes I carry with me, it’s not enough. Kids are fearless, they literally want to touch EVERYTHING. That being said, I don’t want everything and especially EVERYONE touching my kids. I appreciate people sharing with us that they think our kids are cute, but this is something that can be expressed in words, not physically. Unlike dogs, kids are not intimidating and can at times be shy. This makes them vulnerable. It’s our job as parents to protect them from unwanted interactions that they can or cannot clearly express they are uncomfortable with.
Here are some ways to Say No if someone asks to touch/hold your child:
The Passive Approach: Keep walking and pretend you didn’t hear them ask.
If the person is persistent say: “Not now. He/she is sick right now so I’m trying to minimize germs.”
The polite but Direct Approach:
“No, He/she is still little.”
The Direct Approach: ” No.”
With my girls, since they are a bit older and very friendly, I ask sometimes ask if they want to give a high five, at my discretion.
My oldest used to run up to everyone and just hug them. I had to quickly put a stop to this and explain that we don’t know what germs people have and more importantly, we don’t want someone grabbing her and running away.
I know it can be awkward, but don’t let people invade your or your children’s personal space. Demand they treat you with the same respect they treat dog owners and make them ask first! Also, it’s okay to say no.
Yesterday at Target, two women approached my girls to tell them how cute they were. My husband and I watched as my girls just stared at them until we told them they could say “Thank you.” After, my oldest said mom, did you see me ignore that stranger until you said it was ok to say something? It’s not okay to talk to strangers. I was so proud! They are listening!
The P.I. Mom