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Update: Too many comments to reply to, but thanks everyone for some fascinating perspectives! Every family has its own “rules” about touching, so different people interpret something like a back massage differently, and that’s always interesting to learn about. I totally agree with the majority of the comments saying that it’s fine assuming it’s voluntary - parents shouldn’t be requiring that children provide massages, but if the kid is comfortable and wants to give a massage (or back scratch, hug, kiss, etc.), that’s cool and healthy. Anyways, more consensual massages for everyone!

Dear Prudie strikes again, this time with a weird response to a weird letter about mandatory familial foot massages. It sounds really gross to me, but it might just be my general hatred of touching other people’s feet. (Although I also think it’s strange to demand regular massages from your child as a sort of household chore.) What do you guys think?

Q. Happy Feet: My husband loves to get his feet massaged. When he was younger (think elementary school and up), his mom had him massage her feet often, probably once a week. When he told me about this, I was horrified, even after he assured me these massages were purely a therapeutic thing and not sexual. Now my husband has started telling our young daughter about how she needs to start rubbing his feet. I’ve told him that either I’ll massage them or send him to a professional, but I don’t want her massaging anyone. Am I wrong for putting my foot down (sorry for the pun)?

A: And you just brought back memories of how my father would ask his four offspring, when we were little, to scratch his back. Sometimes two of us would go at it and we loved getting the spot he couldn’t reach. This spot was generally just below his shoulder. Let me assure you there was nothing remotely sexual about this, it was just an entertaining primate grooming thing. You are turning something fun into something ugly. I bet your daughter will thrill to working the kinks out of her Dad’s feet, and there is nothing kinky about that. If your daughter gets good enough, you may want some free reflexology yourself, Mom.


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