We all know of the positive benefits of touch to our babies and young children. Indeed, we touch and cuddle them incessantly. Some mothers even enrol on infant massage courses to reap the benefits of touch.
Why is touch so important? Because it is one of the basic needs that we human beings have. It conveys connection between individuals. And it feeds our souls.
Yet we stop touching our children when they’ve gotten past a certain stage. In fact, we often shy away from touching them or any form of affectionate physical contact. And ironically, the teen years are when children need touch most, as they are learning about adult relationships.
For if you are not touching your child as an expression of parent-child love, he or she will grow up thinking that physical contact between adults is confined exclusively to the sexual context, rather than hugging to convey hello, ruffling someone’s hair as a show of affection, holding hands to comfort and snuggling up, which surely must be the biggest simple joy. For touch is not only about sexual foreplay. I once knew someone who had many lovers but who had never made love, for sex is very different from making love. I was surprised to find that though young and quite healthy, he had cold lumps of hard fat under his skin, something that his mother has too. Going for foot massages was his way of getting non-sexual physical affection that his body was starved of and crying out for, and that hunger is fed by paying for it rather than given and received freely in the home.
Our most potent sexuality comes from intimacy, rather than bed acrobatics or superficial visuals. When you kiss your lover slowly and deeply, when you put your finger into his mouth to know his inner cavern at leisure, when you taste all of him languidly and feed yourself to him, when you touch him after the act, when you run your fingers lazily down his body, that for me is the very depth of lovemaking that makes us feel good, that amazing feel good.
Children, from babies to teenagers, need that “feel good” in a non-sexual and pure context, so that they grow up understanding the language of touch, so that as adults they make love rather than have a long line of lovers transacting meaningless sex. For touch is not just about sex. It is about love and giving.
My children’s father has Spanish blood in him, and there is a lot of father-son hugging in the culture. He often has his arm round our daughters. Yes, he is physically very affectionate with our growing children, and they respond automatically, naturally. My big 17-year-old still jumps into my bed for cuddles. It warms my heart to see them cuddling up as they once used to. I too, cuddle up to big brother at 50.
SIX WAYS OF FEEDING THE SOUL THROUGH TOUCH
- Hug in the morning instead of saying good morning
- Ruffle someone’s hair as you walk past
- Kiss your child’s head
- Reach out for his or her fingers
- Cuddle up and watch TV
- Touch your partner in a loving context in front of the children
Touch can heal a lot and says a lot.
Photo: my two girls cuddling up ❤