A year and a half ago, I worked for the YMCA's after school program, which took place in the poorest elementary school in the city.

The program, which was basically homework and then playtime, was for the kids whose parents couldn't afford daycare, and for the mostpart, wished they didn't have a kid. This was best proven by the fact that about 1/4 of the parents attended our free parents appreciation dinner, and 100% left early.

After I got to know the kids, they would run up to me and hug me to say hello, or sit on my lap during playtime.

I had the audacity to hug them back, and to read them stories while they climbed all over me.

This behavior earned me a write-up, and an incredibly offensive lecture about "good touch, bad touch." After all, if the parent sees, which they won't because they don't even look at their kids, they might sue us!

I was told that when a child hugs me, I am to walk away and ignore them in order to show them that touching is not okay.

I wasn't even allowed to hug the five year old who watched his dad get shot to death the night before. "That's a matter for the mother to deal with," my boss said.

I called my mom, who's worked in childcare her whole life, expecting sympathy. But they had brainwashed her too. "That's just how it is. Just don't touch them."

I started hugging the kids more than ever, telling them how many things they could grow up to be, and then I quit. Rules like this make me sad about humanity, and I'll never stop wondering how those kids are doing.

Couple things: I wasn't a teacher, I was a part-time after school counselor while I went to college. I saw these kids for four hours a day, and I was never once alone with any of them. That rule is understandable, but I don't agree that hugging them in plain sight is any sort of threat.

But most of all, thanks for the front page! I'm pretty new here and I never expected anyone to care about my silly little AMA.

Comments: 1689 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

BrokeTheInterweb568 karma

One little boy was Autistic, and since I know a bit about Autism, I was put in charge of keeping an eye on him. The only thing that seemed to calm him down when he was on tirades, biting and kicking and ripping everything in sight, was just to hold him tightly for as long as it took, and he was happy again. They let me hug that one.

grpatter274 karma

If I throw a tantrum do I get a hug, too? /s

On a serious note, this AMA makes me want to have a chat with whomever thought this was a good 'rule'. Seriously... how out of touch are we in the US. Kids aren't a fucking lab experiment, show some compassion.

Dr_Merkwurdigliebe201 karma

As much as I'd like to have someone to blame, I don't think anyone created this because they thought it was a good rule. They were afraid of being sued, incarcerated, fired, etc. and made a stupid rule that would cover their asses. It only became a "good" rule after everyone had been lobotomized.

GJENZY56 karma

Maybe you could blame old school psychology.

I was listening to a story about it on NPR. The so called professions used to think it was bad for children developmentally to show them love. In modern psychology this absurd idea has been proven false.

BrokeTheInterweb88 karma

Fuck it, I'm letting my kid ride the subway alone too. (NPR reference? Anyone... ?)

BudMasterSess67 karma

Isn't that common for people with Autism? I saw a movie about woman with Autism and one of the things she came up with (in addition to revolutionizing slaughterhouses) was to have a machine that squeezed her tightly. She said it helped to calm her down. I cannot for the life of me remember her name though.

BrokeTheInterweb139 karma

Temple Grandin! She's the smartest living person in the field of autism awareness. She used to be non-verbal, but she developed her own coping methods to teach herself to talk as a teenager. She's a really great person to explain to the world how kids with autism feel.

ichabodguitar363 karma


balchynz819 karma

I made the decision this year to say fuck it. And just do it.

The number of times I take my kids to the park, and see other children need help, Down the slide, to get off the swing, whatever, is crazy.

They have these fucking lazy parents that sit on their ass and have coffee with their friends or whatever and dont pay attention to their child.

In the past I wouldnt go near children other than my own for fear of being branded a pedo.

You know what? fuck that. I have decided that if these kids need help on these things, then I will give it to them. They need to be shown that not every man is a predator and that there are people who genuinely care, and like to help people.

I have had one lady freak out at me so far and scream at me not to touch her child. I calmly told her that I have two small children here of my own, and if she wasnt so busy ignoring her basic parenting responsibilities then it wouldnt be needed.

Sorry for the rant, it just pisses me off that males are vilified in this manner

BrokeTheInterweb333 karma

You're awesome. I decided when I was a kid that I'm never gonna forget what it's like, and be the best parent ever. How can a mother not want to hang out wit their kid?

redcircle52 karma

Most kids say that they won't forget what its like, and then they grow up, and ... repeat what their parents did. The reason why: kids learn by observing the actions of people, and over time these behaviorisms become automatic. For example, when you lecture a kid, 95% of what the kid takes away is that it is appropriate to lecture people when you disagree with them; 5% of the take-away is the content of the lecture. So the classic kid is telling himself, during the lecture, that his parents are so unfair (they usually are unfair), and that he won't do the same. But the cycle is so hard to break, because by the time you grow up and have your kids, you want to maintain your active life cycle, and you don't have time to think about how to override your automatic responses. When the kid does something that irritates you, or might make you look like a bad parent in front of the crowd, then you react immediately based on your childhood experiences, which is to scold, shout, and humiliate (when we feel negative, our minds narrow and resort to past experiences, which is why we always think of the awesome comeback 10 minutes later, once we've relaxed). And your kid is sitting there burying his fury, because most Americans maintain a power relationship with their kid (discipline and reward+punishment). Basic leadership: you don't scold anybody in front of other people, but do it discreetly if necessary (this is a big item in "Naval Leadership" by Karel Montor). This is one habit that most of us should develop.

Thinking about breaking the cycle takes lots of thought, meditation, and patience to implement. Most of the time is spent trying to figure out what to do differently so that it becomes easy. There actually is a silver bullet, which I can best describe as what is congruent with our evolutionary development, for people actually raised their kids successfully eons ago for us to be here today, prior to spoken language, lecturing, yelling, etc. The basics from that era drive our cognitive and psychological development today, and the answer is leadership, and is well described by A. S. Neill in "Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Childrearing".

BrokeTheInterweb15 karma

Breaking the cycle won't be too hard as long as I maintain my agnostic views. We spent all week praying, and all weekend at church. That's not gonna happen in my family, at least.

coronalmassejection58 karma

Major upvotes for you. You're right, people need to see men being involved with children in a healthy way. Children need to see this!

BrokeTheInterweb61 karma

There was a "super cute grownup" camp counselor at my BIble camp when I was a kid, and we would all give him group hugs whenever we saw him.

I have no idea what happened, but a few weeks later, he was charged with multiple counts of child molestation. It's assholes like that, who would scare any parent, who ruin it for everyone.

thourtagem49 karma

Was he convicted? Or just arrested and charged? It's hard to tell from your brief description that he wasn't a victim of the mindset that you decry in your original post.

BrokeTheInterweb27 karma

I never knew. I was only seven when I saw it on the news, and my parents only told me that he was in trouble for doing bad things with kids. I wish I could remember his last name...

patriotboy4321 karma

What is sad is that I am really good with childen and who love to be an elementary/kindergarden teacher. But being a Man, I cant do that. It sucks. I have a 2 year old daughter and love her to pieces. I feel your pain man, but I will not not help a kid who needs it....

BrokeTheInterweb30 karma

My best friend, a guy, is going to school right now to be an elementary school teacher. You can find lots of districts that are more open-minded if you look around.

Urethra50 karma

My mother runs a small day care out of her home (between 4 and 7 kids on average) and there is nothing but love there. She is state certified and licensed and its never been an issue. I stop by and play with the kids a few times a week and they all run up and give me a hug and tell me they love me (and vice versa) as soon as I come in the door, and again when I'm about to leave. She has random inspections on occasions. This has happened when there was an inspector there. It has never been a problem.

BrokeTheInterweb48 karma

My mother ran a daycare too, for most of my childhood. It was never an issue there, but it was also Christian-themed. This sort of thing on a corporate scale really goes too far sometimes. I had to read countless literature on bullying, discipline, and how to be as emotionless as possible when I worked for the YMCA. Then I was fingerprinted three times.

Verdian27 karma

I am a teacher for kindergarten through 9th grade in Japan. I hug the younger students back, they can sit on my lap, climb all over me. I'll toss them around, rough house with the older ones, get play-punched and punch back. If a student is good, I'll pat them on the head; if they are bad, they get a light smack upside the head (just the older ones). All of the teachers do this.

The relationships between teachers and students (in part because of this) are incredibly strong. Students trust teachers, develop strong mentor/student relationships, and as a result work harder at school and in club activities. Teachers also take a close interest in students and will talk to them individually if they sense something is wrong. For many students, they are closer to their teachers than their parents.

This is normal here. As a person from America, it took me a long time (about a year) to get used to this. I had teachers encourage me that it was okay. Even students were surprised that I was a bit stand-offish.

I could never teach in America. I'd have been fired and sued in an instant over the casual forms of contact that are encouraged here. It is a paranoid, unloving education system back in the States. If I have kids, I hope they can go to school over here.

edit: I shouldn't generalize all American and Japanese schools like that. There are plenty of caring American teachers, and horrible Japanese teachers. Apologies all around.

BrokeTheInterweb7 karma

This is an awesome system. So many kids are only allowed a strictly professional relationship with their teachers, and it's hard for kids to blindly respect someone who doesn't want to hug them or pat them on the back.

Thinktank5820 karma

I'm sorry the system treated you this way. I for one know the joy of entering a classroom and having two dozen screaming kids running up to hug you. One of the best feelings in the world. If you'd like to continue providing the wonderful attention to kids, maybe you should look in places where it's encouraged. I'm assuming you're in the US. Most places outside this lawsuit happy country put a lot more emphasis on childcare and practically let their teachers run free.

BrokeTheInterweb20 karma

It was awesome. After a hard day of classes, these kids really appreciated me and what I had to teach them, and it was obvious that I was helping to shape their minds in a good way. Nothing feels better than that.

[deleted]17 karma

That's just odd. My daughter used to attend the YMCA afterschool care in our town. And she is a very affectionate little monkey, and was always getting/giving hugs from the staff. There was never any problem. 0.o Also, when I worked in daycare the kids were constantly climbing all over us and sitting in our laps and we gave them hugs. Never any problem. Children need to be touched.

I'm Canadian though, is it different?

BrokeTheInterweb38 karma

Nah, I'm almost positive that there was something wrong with my supervisor. She was an ex-NYC desk-cop. My dad is a cop, but doesn't feel the need to tell everyone and present himself as a tough guy all the time. She did. I was written up for a few other completely silly things too, but the principle of this one blew me away. That's 35 already high-risk kids you're purposely denying affection to.

CollectiveNoun16 karma

I have a family friend, who has been teacher for over 40 years, involved in a lawsuit right now because they tapped a kid on the shoulder with a pencil to get the kids attention.

The parents of the kid are suing my family friend for abusive behavior and assault against the student. My family friend is now in semi-forced retirement sue to this lawsuit. (Not providing too many details on this because it is pending)

I am sorry that our lawsuit happy country and paranoia has ruined childcare for you.

BrokeTheInterweb29 karma

My favorite high school teacher was just fired for telling a girl to get her jugs off his desk. The entire class agreed that she was trying to flirt with him, which I've seen the classiest girls in my own class do as well. I wish she could be suspended.

Neato8 karma

"Are you fucked in the head?" Would have been the proper response to your boss. But your reaction was pretty cool too.

BrokeTheInterweb28 karma

Terrible memories. A similar phrase once left my lips when she tried telling me that young kids only need after-school physical activity ONE day a week.

Winga7 karma

Oh no. That woman is just wrong. The touching issue may matter more but this isn't even debatable.

BrokeTheInterweb8 karma

And she truly couldn't understand why the kids weren't able to sit still and do their homework immediately after sitting still for eight hours in a classroom.

Imez5 karma

Do you think your bosses are doing this because they're monsters, or because they know what a terrifyingly litigious world we live in?

My daughter is 3, and I am extremely greatful her pre-school teachers hugs her and carries her when she's having a hard time. We're human. We need this stuff, especially when we're tiny and oral communication isn't very effective.

BrokeTheInterweb5 karma

It was only one lady, and though it was clear from her previous write-ups about incredibly silly things that she didn't like me very much, she explained that the rule stems from the possibility of a lawsuit.

queeniemab3 karma

I was a kindergarten teacher as well and was also scolded and given a talk about that. I was told to tell the kids "no, I don't like that".

But I loved kids and I love reading them stories and hugging them. I have 3 baby brothers and sister ffs.

BrokeTheInterweb8 karma

I hate when authority tells you to be emotionless and distant from the kids, while telling them lies to support the rules they couldn't possibly understand otherwise.