Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Appropriate Touch is Super Important
(No Matter How Old Your Kids Are)

When I was a young mother a few people cautioned me about rocking my babies too much. They warned of the dangers of "spoiling" them. I don't believe for a minute that an infant can be spoiled. Infants don't have the capability to formulate a plan to emotionally manipulate anyone. They simply cry and express their needs in the only way they know how.

I'm so glad I never listened to those who warned of "spoiling." How precious are the memories of hours spent rocking and soothing the precious children God gave me. This was key to our bonding as mother and child, and to their emotional health and well being.

As children grow, some also believe that parental affection should wane. I've heard some parents say, "My kids know I love them, but I'm just not an outwardly expressive or affectionate person." I believe that's dangerous and strongly disagree with that philosophy. Appropriate affection doesn't have to stop and in fact, it's vitally important to children's health and well being . Studies show that lack of proper parental affection is one reason many teens become sexually active. They end up "lookin' for love in all the wrong places."

How can we appropriately express physical touch to our growing children, teens and even young adults? A few ideas:

  • Appropriate hugs
  • Appropriate kisses
  • Snuggling on the couch while talking or watching TV
  • Gently placing your hand on theirs while you talk about something important
  • A gentle/soothing pat on the hand
  • Rub their back while they watch TV
  • Dance together
  • Brush their hair 
  • Give them a gentle touch on the cheek when you express love to them. 
Receiving affection from both mom and dad is important.

Christmas hugs with Dustin
 Some of these suggestions will vary based upon the ages of  children. Dustin and Jordan would look at me like I'm from outer space if I offered to brush their hair. At 21 and 23 years old, that's just...kinda weird. But each day when we see each other we hug, and I give them a kiss on the cheek. Usually we hug a lot more than once a day. The other day Jordan had something I needed in the kitchen. I asked him for it and he said, "hold on Momma... ya gotta dance for it." Confused, I said, "what?" And instead of explaining, he held out his hand to me, and put me in position to do the waltz. He proceeded to waltz me right around the kitchen for several minutes before he gave me the item.

Jordan insisted we dance by the Christmas tree when our picture was taken last year.
 Savanna likes watching movies while I scratch her back. She's not a real huggy person, in fact sometimes she seems downright opposed to a hug, but she's always interested in a gentle back rub.

She didn't seem opposed to a hug for this photo, which was super-nice!
Respecting our children's personal boundaries is important. We can meet them where they're at (in their comfort zone) and still show appropriate affection no matter their age.

Not only is appropriate affection a wonderful thing, but you never know what we might be averting in their lives by making it a priority. 

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