Loving touch

Photo Oct 16 3 05 11 PM     The beginning of my first born’s life is a bit of a blur for me. I had had a really rough pregnancy, then a C-section and a not so pleasant recovery. That coupled with the daily learning process that came with being a new parent, left me in angst and doubting my abilities regularly. My fix for this was to sit in my head and do research and buy every gadget available. Nothing seemed to calm the anxiety and having a child with colic just didn’t help matters at all. Needless to say I was cut off to the flow of the universe and to my own insticts.

     One day, very randomly my mom approached me and said, “Karen, do you ever kiss her? Do you ever hug her?” Part of me had the normal new parent response of a sigh and eye roll. That “of course I hug and kiss my child!” feeling. But then I stopped. My mind wondered like in those movie scenes in which your life flashes before your eyes. And I quickly came to the realization that the answer was NO. Not only was that not something I had not done but I had not even thought about! Kissing and hugging didn’t seem to have been in anything I had read during my extensive research, probably because it just never even occurred to me to look. I mean, my priority was to keep this tiny being alive, that just seemed like a given not a necessity.

     But why wouldn’t it be a necessity? Hugging and kissing is basic nonverbal communication. It is how we express Photo Apr 19 6 19 34 AMlove to a being that has yet not learned societal norms. Sorry folks, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (great book if you have not read it) do not apply here. A baby can not feel loved because you shower him/her with gifts or because you change it’s diper or because you verbally explain it. Touch is “it” at the very beginning and up to this point I had not even thought about it. After she said it, it seemed like common sense, but why hadn’t I thought about it organically? Not sure I will ever get the answer to that question but I have always vowed to share my experience of those not commonly talked about subjects. And this is a big one.

     As human beings, feeling loved is such an important part of our experience. Most of us search endlessly for that special someone that will love us till we grow old and wither. The lack of it also has adverse mental repercussions as if we lacked it as children we might feel like we had a void to fill within us as we grow. Yet society doesn’t embrace physical touch but actually frowns on it. When referring to babies, we are usually told not to hold them too much as to not spoil them, and when they are older, to avoid grey areas dealing with consent there are rules that forbid it. Well, is it possible to hold your baby too much? I guess that would depend who you ask but for a baby that doesn’t have many means of communication, physical touch maybe the only way it will feel loved. Hugging, kissing, cuddling, and holding your baby is imperative to its mental health. And as your child grows, it is important to make a clear distinction between discipline and love. A simple hug after conflict resolution can potentially reassure a child that even though their actions may have not been acceptable socially, your love for them is unchanging and without condition.

     Physical love from a parent to a child can be one of the first building blocks for human relating. It can teach a child nonverbally that you love and support them always. A feeling that they will carry unto adulthood and hopefully a healthy love life. SO don’t be afraid to hold your child. Love your child and kiss your child as much as you can. It is important for a well-rounded individual.

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