Dear Stranger, Stop Touching My Kids

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Dear stranger, stop touching my kids.

You are in the grocery store, minding your own business.

You quickly run in and out of the aisles as your precious baby sleeps in the cart beside you. You are anxious and nervous, hoping you can get in and out before she wakes up.

You have her tucked in tight, a canopy placed gently over the car seat to keep her covered, and a grocery list that is ambitious, but doable. Everything is going great until a stranger approaches your cart, undoes your car seat canopy, and starts rubbing your child’s cheeks.

This exact situation happened to me a month into my motherhood journey. And it hasn’t been the only occasion since then. I am not sure where people decided they have a right to do this, so I am here to clear the air:

In no way shape or form is it EVER okay for you to touch someone else’s child when you don’t know them.

In all honesty, it shocks me that something like this even has to be stated. I don’t even have the balls to go up to another mom to try and make a friend, let alone go up to a complete stranger and invade their space like that.

The worst part is, many moms, including myself, don’t even know how to handle situations like that. I felt so uncomfortable after that encounter as a new mom, I refused to go grocery shopping alone for months afterward.

And no, age doesn’t matter. I appreciate the compliment on how adorable you think my daughter is. But please don’t caress her hair and rub her back when you don’t know either of us. Even though she is older, it is still inappropriate and super creepy. Let’s go back to preschool and learn to keep our hands to ourselves again, okay?

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And don’t forget those pregnant women either! If I had a dollar for every time a stranger randomly decided it was okay to touch my growing stomach, I would be a millionaire by now. Oh, and you can keep the unsolicited parenting advice to yourself there too.

At the end of the day, I realize that many of you do not mean any harm. Babies and children are cute. They spark innocence and light up this sometimes dark world. But please, remember that they are humans too. They don’t deserve to be manhandled at your beck and call. Consent is important.

You don’t go up to every hot guy you see and grab his butt, do you? I think not.

So, the next time you feel the urge to pinch an adorable baby’s cheek in the checkout lane, please think back to this article and admire from a distance. Mom’s everywhere will thank you.

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This post originally appeared at Better as Us, published with permission.