The Importance of Reaching Out to Our Children

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Reaching out to your children
Reaching out to your children

TODAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, my daughters and I climbed into bed and cuddled. It's something that happens pretty regularly in my house. Some people say the kitchen is the heart of their home, or their dining room table. Ours is the king size bed, with its soft comforter and stacks of pillows. Those few minutes were like docking at a re-charge station. Topped up, we went on with the rest of our day.

There was a time when I didn't feel so rejuvenated. When my kids were small I was oversaturated with the constant giving of my own body. I literally meditated on how every person would get a "piece" of me. When my second child was born, I felt like my newborn was getting so much more physical touch, so we instituted sleepover nights for my 2 year old, and quick "60-second snuggles!" during the day, where we would run and dive into the bed, just the two of us and have a quick hug and nuzzle before the baby would cry again. It was a struggle of equilibrium in more ways than one, with my own needs coming last. In the early years of having babies and toddlers, my husband said that if he brushed against me at night, I would recoil in my sleep. I was living in a state of overstimulation, as so many of us moms do in that period of our lives.

But I am here to say, that as the physical demands of parenthood become fewer, resist letting them slide away completely. Those aforementioned babies are now 9 and 11 years old, and being physically affectionate with them is more of a conscious choice than it was when they needed to be carried and wiped and rocked. But we choose to do it.

reaching out to our children
reaching out to our children

Studies show that children who feel safe and loved at home are more confident, happier, and they do better in school. The affection of a father with his daughter directly correlates with her self-esteem and self-image. Adolescents are less likely to go into the world body-hungry and searching for physical comfort and gratification. This is probably the easiest, quickest and most direct way to make our children feel KNOWN, feel SEEN, feel LOVED.

As we enter the onset of adolescence, sometimes our kids pull away from intense snuggles of old. We always respect their feelings, but we never stop reaching out. A pat on the back, a side one-arm hug, a squeeze of the hand - all these things keep the physical connection between us alive. It is the thread we keep between us on the days they don't feel like being touched, so that when they do feel like it, they can jump into bed with us in the mornings, or be comforted by a bear hug on a bad day. It prevents us from losing the habit of touching each other, or being comfortable with that touch. I want to be able to grab my grown up children and give them huge hugs. To hold them when they are going through hard times, even as adults. I want that connection there.

So today, and every day, I will reach out.

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