Experts sucking the kindness out of raising our families

Published 19/02/2014 | 05:28

WE ALL remember as a child being made to give a Granny, Grandad, auntie or uncle a kiss on the cheek goodbye, or to say thank you for a birthday or Christmas present.

There may have been various reasons why this was a mildly unpleasant experience for a young child; I'm thinking in particular the smell of Deep Heat and mothballs, a scrape from a stubbly chin (whether from Granny or Grandad), or possibly the feint whiff of Jemmy and ice or worse, 4711 cologne.

Sometimes slightly more distasteful was being on the receiving end of the said peck, which in the case of most recipients warranted the instant wiping of the location with as much vigour as is needed to remove all traces of human contact.

But there were also the wonderful memories many have of the same grandparent or relative providing comfort and shelter, when parents simply didn't understand, or weren't around to offer that safe haven.

So when I read that a leading sex education expert had advised parents to stop forcing kids to kiss elderly relatives, for fear of encouraging future sexual exploitation, my blood started to simmer gently.

According to Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Sex Education Forum in the UK, instead of helping a child learn about showing affection, this may 'blur the boundaries of what is acceptable when it comes to physical contact'.

She even claims that encouraging a youngster to blow a kiss, high-five or wave to a relative instead, will help them avoid future sexual exploitation.

Now while I'm all for trying to protect children from the perils of genuine predators, I can't see how stopping the warmth and affection offered by a loving grandparent is beneficial.

Plus the thoughts of legions of high-fiving septuagenarians is quite a disturbing image in itself!

Genuine affection is something we need to preserve, because it's part of being a caring family.

Most parents are sensible and know exactly what's appropriate for their children and, while forcing them to do something is probably not the right thing to do, I see nothing wrong with encouragement coming from a trusted source.

It's sad to think that any kind of human feeling and kindness is being taken out of how we raise our children.

I wish my children had either of their grannies around, as I would 'encourage' them to kiss and hug them as often as possible.

But then again, they were two beautiful, warm and generous ladies, they wouldn't have needed much coaxing!

* BEING A full-time working mum doesn't leave a lot of time for the more personally enjoyable aspects of life (i.e. there is hardly such a thing as 'free time' never mind 'me time')!

However, I have really been trying hard lately to set aside at least an hour a week (I believe the term 'quality time' is often coined) to catch up with friends and, of course, all the goss.

They say variety is the spice of life and, wanting to sample everything the town has to offer, our almost weekly lunch dates have certainly become quite an eye-opener.

We are ridiculously spoilt for choice in Drogheda town centre for good quality eateries, all offering a wealth of delicious menus and wonderfully friendly staff.

So far, our 'cafe crawl' (as it has now been dubbed) has brought us to Simona's on the South Quay, the Salthouse on the North Quay, Relish Cafe in the stunning Highlanes Gallery and, of course, the breathtaking view from the Tower restaurant.

Each visit in turn has been a very pleasant experience, with Simona Borza's legendary welcome (and Panino Porchetta) hard to beat; Fidelma Mcallister's warm smile always a pleasure in the Salthouse; Andrea and her team making sure you have all you need in Relish; and not forgetting the charm of Neil Lacey making the ladies swoon 'above in the Tower'.

They're not going to make a fortune from us lot, picking at salads and fizzy water, but what lovely surroundings we have to share those precious 60 minutes. (The great company also helps too!)

We still have many more places to sample as our 'cafe crawl' continues, and I dare say we'll have many more happy hours (dry of course)!

So, where to next...?

Drogheda Independent

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