I spend a lot of time listening to adults expressing varying levels of unhappiness in their life. Some of the stories shared go back to their childhood and teen years. I keep hearing a reoccurring theme from these stories that goes like this, “My parents would say to me, ‘I love you’, but they didn’t come to any of my activities in school, my mom seldom gave me a hug and I can’t remember a time when dad ever showed me any kind of physical affection (a timely hug, kiss or a pat on the back).” For many of these adults they are still questioning if the words, “I love you!” were even true.
Showing affection is powerful. When given, it speaks a message of love that can give a child the ability to go on during tough times and say no to temptation. When affection is withheld it leaves a child searching to fill the emptiness and void. I heard a parent say, “If you don’t hug your daughter, someone else with another agenda will gladly do it for you.” Sometimes the absence of touch can affect a child so much that he or she spends a lifetime reaching out for embraces.
Part of preparing your child for the teenage years is providing for them physical affection. It’s incredible what a meaningful and appropriate touch; hug, kiss or even a “high five” will do to the heart of a child. A parent’s touch provides for a child a sense of meaningfulness and security.
Jesus knew the importance of communicating love and personal acceptance through physical touch. In Mark 10:13-16, Jesus blessed and held the children brought to him. In Mark 1:40-42, Jesus filled with compassion reached out his hand and touched the Leper even before he said anything to the leper.
Every day our children must be reminded of our love. We should do that with each child verbally, through physical affection, a listening ear, focused attention and praying daily with them.
Never stop telling your children, “I love you!”, but impress on their heart that this statement is true by providing them with lots of physical affection and positive attention.