Sometimes it's a lot easier not being a parent.

Actually, all the time it's a lot easier not being a parent. I really don't know how the world does it.

It's not the nappy changing or the puke stains that would have me sweating and anxious. It's not the inevitable head lice removal, or even the lack of sleep.

It's the sheer weight of all those defining little moments in parenting life, when normal people shape the attitude and behaviour of another human being.


When you're a kid, the whole world's binary. Right and wrong, up and down, black and white.

So much of parenting is in the grey. How do you strike the right balance between supporting and pressuring a child? How do you strike a balance between loving and protecting, helicoptering or smothering? And how to judge when parenting advice is legitimate and reasonable or unrealistic and just a bit precious?

I respect anyone who takes on the challenge.

But when the Girl Guides of America issued advice recommending parents avoid forcing their children into hugging and kissing relatives, I'm sure many parents the world over rolled their eyes and scoffed.

For goodness' sake, you can let Aunt Mabel give you a quick smooch on the cheek! What, so we're treating your cousins like predators, now?

The whole thing plays out like a scene in a Roald Dahl story; we've all been the shaky-kneed little kid smothered by an ogre at a Christmas BBQ.

But it's perfectly reasonable advice. I'm sure, back in the day, I was told to embrace a family friend or relative and felt a bit uncomfortable.

The world can only be a better place, for broader consensus about personal space and boundaries.


The murky undertone to this debate is one of sexual violence. And while the Girl Guides are hardly suggesting that every great uncle has grotesque or predatory intentions, teaching children to say 'no', and to define their own physical boundaries, is surely of great importance.

How many of the women to come out in the last few weeks and identify their powerful sexual harassers, found themselves as children in a position where they weren't empowered enough to say 'no'?

It's not a stretch. We mould our society in the way we raise our kids.

I have some wonderful friends with an amazing daughter. I hadn't even thought about it before this week, but often when I visit, they often ask their daughter if she wants to give me a kiss or a cuddle goodbye.

Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn't. Maybe it hurts just a tiny bit if their daughter's not in the mood.

I mightn't be a parent but I'm adult enough to accept it.

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9-noon.