Chinese Embrace Hugging, But Americans Are Wary of the 'Awkward Embrace'

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“With my 6-year-old Tyler, I’ve always encouraged him to hug when he says ‘bye to a person close to him,” she said. “Now, I notice him backing away from it. … The only exception to that is me, his dad and his brother.”

“It seems to tie into when he started school,” she said. “He actually seems slightly more wary to hug his peers than he does with aunts, uncles and grandparents.”

Still, Amy Binette Wolfe says the hugging culture is still alive and well in her small community in the New England Berkshires.

“I’ve met many, many people, and it’s all hugs, hugs, hugs,” she said. “I am not always the initiator. Thank goodness, because this sounds like a love fest. I consciously look for signs that the hug is happening or if the hand is coming out for the firm handshake.”

“But if you're chatting about your kids and show emotion or vice versa, and the person knows you ... the hug might happen,” she said. “That being said, as much as I adore the kids' pediatrician we don't start off or end appointments with a hug."

“I did hug the kids’ dentist once,” she added. “It was purely an accident. … There was a lot of awkwardness. Thankfully, the dentist is awesome.”

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