Everyone has a different love language. Some people show affection through words, physical touch, acts of service, or quality time. So, it is selfish and foolish to compare the different ways in which someone shows love to different people.
It is also hard to expect them to show their affection in a way that has not been reciprocated.
Boundaries are important, and it is up to each person to decide if they feel comfortable hugging and kissing someone, or if they want to show their love in another way.
Redditor aitatrwway2021 recently faced this issue with her kid and husband, so she turned to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) to see if she was wrong, asking:
“AITA for telling my husband that his own behavior is why our son doesn’t show him physical affection and I won’t force him to.”
The Original Poster (OP) explained how her relationship with her son has affected her partner.
“My husband and I have a 6 year old son, Sam. Sam is super affectionate to me, because I am super affectionate to him.”
“For practically his whole life we’ve had cuddle time every night, I tuck him in and give him hugs and kisses, I put him on the bus in the morning and kiss him goodbye, and when he doesn’t feel good I let him curl up with me on the couch and hold my hand.”
“So it’s not uncommon for him to randomly tell me he loves me, or come plant a kiss on my forehead while I’m just sitting down – This is just how we’ve always been with each other.”
“By contrast, my husband isn’t a very touchy feely person and therefore our son doesn’t show him the same affection. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is a great father and Sam loves him, but he shows his love with tickles, and wrestling, and Sam climbs all over him like a human jungle gym.”
“That’s their kind of love.”
Both are valid ways to show affection.
“Today Sam wasn’t feeling well so I kept him home from school and we cuddled. When my husband came home he kept trying to cuddle with Sam as well, but he only wanted me.”
“This made my husband feel bad (understandably) and said that it looks like Sam loves me more than him. I told him that’s not true at all, but that kids emulate the behavior that they experience.”
“Since husband isn’t affectionate most of the time (there are definitely some times where he is), Sam isn’t affectionate back because he doesn’t associate that behavior with his father. I told him that Sam shows him love when they goof off with each other.”
“My husband said that I am making him sound like he’s a bad father and that I should force Sam to give him hugs and kisses, but I refused because I think Sam has the right to choose who he is physically affectionate with. He apparently vented to his mom and sister, who have both taken his side.”
“So Reddit – am I the a**hole?”
Redditors gave their opinion by stating:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
And, they seem to agree with the OP in helping her son decide how to be affectionate.
“I suspect, based on your post, that I’m old enough to be that man’s mother. So pass this on to him from me if you think it will help.”
“Your son was not put on this Earth to make you look good. You were put on this earth to raise him and care for him.”
“If you screw up doing that, you own it. It’s not a little boy’s job to duct tape his daddy’s Best Dad Ever poster.”
“Your son was not put on this Earth to make you feel good. Taking care of your feelings is not his job. You are the grown-up.”
“You don’t like that you get what you give? Suck it up. You screwed up.”
“The next time your son looks like he just needs company, offer him company. Just hanging out, doing stuff together.”
“Accept it if he says no. Don’t try to put your hurt feelings on him.”
“If he falls down and skins his knee while he’s with you, ask him if he wants a hug. Again, accept no.”
“Do little, kind things for him like that, and he may grow to understand that Dad, also, can be a source of mutual affection.”
“Or, you may have already set the pattern of your interactions for the rest of your lives. And if that is how it is, you live with it, and stop whining to your mommy about it. Good grief.”
“Signed, somebody who knows firsthand what happens when grown-a** adults try to make their little kids take care of their hurt feelings.”
“ETA: Holy smokes. I am tickled pink that all y’all are being so complimentary and also sad that so many of y’all seem to be hearing something like this for the first time. Gray-haired moms of Reddit, top off your teacups and get out your keyboards!”
“Also, therapy is the sh*t. Shop around if you can, because like any profession, therapy has its lousy examples. Self-help books like the ones listed at various ‘JustNo’ subreddits are also good, as are meatspace and online support groups. This has been your daily sermonette.”
“Staggering off to bed.” ~ jennyislander
“I will say this: sometimes it helps to have an opportunity come along for Dad to prove himself. Not long after my husband and I married, my 5 yo daughter (previous marriage) was sick (tummy ache) and needed to be picked up from school.”
“The school couldn’t reach me immediately and called him. He left work right away, picked her up and did all the comforting things I would have done.”
“She had never seen him in this role before so it had never occurred to her to go to him for this kind of parenting. Give Dad a chance to step up. If he fails to do so that’s on him.” ~ monachopsisismynorm
Others wanted the kid to know it’s not his responsibility.
“As a person who has a parent who has borderline personality disorder, thank you for this comment. I have spent my entire adult life undoing the shame and lack of self esteem I have because I was taught it was my job to manage the emotions of my entire family.”
“I grew up walking on eggshells and desperately trying to gauge moods so that I could keep everyone happy.”
“I freaking HATE when other adults in my kid’s life make comments about him ‘needing’ to do something to make them happy and now I really get why. I will be putting an end to the ‘you have to call grandma because she’s only happy when she talks to you’ crap immediately.”
“I’m saving this post to re-read as needed. Thank you!” ~ buzzed4lightyears
“NTA. Forcing your child to be affectionate with someone would take away their bodily autonomy. They might have difficulty with boundaries.” ~ DaisyBellBaby
We hope they show their kid they love them in many different ways and we’re sure they will reciprocate.