Connection is what makes parenting joyful. (And it’s what makes parenting easier!)
Emotional connection is making time for our child every day and giving him our focused attention. It is our child knowing she really matters to us and we’re there for her even if she’s melting down.
Physical connection is important too. Hugs are good for us physiologically- they raise our oxytocin and serotonin levels- and they make us feel loved. We have to remember to make time for physical connection. With our busy schedules it’s easy to forget to stop and connect.
When I heard this quote last week I realized I really need to hug my kids more:
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
– Virginia Satir, American psychologist
Physical connection comes naturally with our babies in arms, toddlers who demand “UP!” and young children who often climb into our laps. With older kids we really have to work at it. My 9 year old will still drape herself across me every chance she gets, but my 12 year old and 16 year old boys? Not really…
When I heard that quote about hugs, I realized my boys were barely getting their 4 a day. So I playfully challenged them to 12 hugs a day. They could hug me or their dad, their dog, each other– all hugs count! I’m trying to hug them hello and goodbye, good morning and good night. And any other times I can squeeze one in. My middle boy is pretty enthusiastic and my eldest is tolerant. But I think it’s working because the other night they hugged each other good night.
(An aside: I’ve often wondered if the root of some teen problems is a lack of physical contact. Are they cranky because they don’t get enough tenderness? Do they get in fights and have one-night-stands because they really just need a hug?!)
So- go hug your kids! And your partner if you have one.
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