Babies are easy to snuggle with; however, our “snuggle need” doesn’t leave as we grow up. Not everyone’s main “love language” is touch, but we all need affection – touch that is non-sexual and simply communicates caring.
Grown-ups are said to need eight hugs a day to be emotionally healthy. (Count ‘em – eight!) Our young children need to know we have enough time to not only close the computer and look them in the eye, but hug them close often and show affection. Even our “too cool” teens need the occasional side hug, touch on the shoulder or arm, fist bump or out-and-out wrestling match.
Why is affection such a big deal? Because we all want to know we are loved and touchable. Ask any spouse who has been left alone, or a dad who is lovingly pounced upon by his family with cries of “Daddy’s home!” after work. Ask any orphan or widow. Ask any teammate that’s hoisted up after a great play.
Kids who grow up with a lack of touch and affection can develop a serious “skin hunger.” This need for validation and affection could lead them into early sexual experimentation or a dangerous encounter with a stranger – even kidnapping. It’s like shopping on an empty stomach. Anything on the shelves starts to look good when there’s nothing in your emotional tummy.
Emotional connection takes more than a text or a Facebook post. It takes real time interaction, face-to-face, and the healthy chemical responses that come from the warmth of skin-to-skin with no expectations.
A challenge: this week, write down each day each time that you share non-sexual touch with your spouse or child(ren). Are you getting your eight times in? Are they?
These expressions cost nothing, but they build a person’s confidence and self-esteem mightily. It’s a hard world out there. Take the time to show affection every day, whenever you can. You need it so much, and so does your family.