Are hugs and kisses important? Do they affect the growth of your child?
Childhood plays an important role in anyone’s life. Our personalities, values, behaviours, judgements and habits have a strong connection with our childhood.
From a society’s perspective, if your parents buy you expensive clothes, have provided for you in terms of shelter and food, you should be okay. There is no reason to complain, right? They are good parents. But is that enough?
What about your emotional needs? What if they were consistently neglected? A child who was never hugged, comforted when in fear, and appropriately guided when mistaken, will be as incomplete as a child who wasn’t provided for adequately, oftentimes worse.
When a child is hurt, those words of solace, the warmth of your arms and the tenderness in your eyes can mean a world to them. It shapes who they become as a person.
What is appropriate parental affection?
If I could emphasize enough on just one word when it comes to the nourishment and upbringing of a child, it would be ‘BALANCE’. Everything you do for your child needs to be in harmony with who you want them to be as a person. Sadly, today not many parents sit to think about what they want to give their children and what they are actually giving to them. They don’t know whether what they are giving them is actually helping the child or making the situation worse by the day.
Therefore, my emphasis here is not just on parental affection because that can go to other extremes too. My emphasis is on appropriate parental affection. One that helps your child prosper in life, helps build him/her in character and counts towards positive personality traits.
It is important to first understand your child’s needs. There are 5 major areas where your child needs your affection to grow and prosper in life:
1. Physical Needs and Affection
Your child needs you. If parents weren’t important it was not difficult for the Creator to create man’s existence outside a mother’s womb after a beautiful union of man and woman.
For their initial few years, you are all they have. They are dependent on you for their physical needs. For most parents, it’s easy to hug and cuddle your child at this stage. As they grow and start framing their own realities of the world, in many cases, conflicting your ideals and values, your affection for them withers away. Parents still love their children but find it hard to express it like they once used to.
We’ve seen cases where mothers refuse to hug or kiss their children. These kids grow up not knowing how to give affection. They don’t know how to be enough for their own emotional needs as well as others’.
2. Financial Needs
From the time your child is born to the time they are capable enough to earn for themselves, they are dependent on you for their financial needs. Providing adequate financial resources is one of your prime responsibilities. But it doesn’t end there.
3. Mental Needs and Affection
Parental affection improves self-esteem, academic performance and eventually leads to your child growing up as a mentally stable adult. Your child has certain mental needs that need to be catered to.
They are already subconsciously learning a lot from you but you need to make a conscious effort in certain areas for a better relationship between you and your child.
Humans need to feel protected, loved, and appreciated. At every stage of life, your children need to learn how to go from being dependent on you to be interdependent on you to living on their own.
When your child’s mental and emotional needs are met they eventually lead to fewer psychological and behavioural problems.
4. Emotional Needs and Affection
I have no memory of ever being hugged by my mother. To this day, and by the way, I am in my thirties, I have this desire in me to be hugged like one is hugged by a mother. You know it is commonly believed that healing comes from within. It does. But when you are hurt by relationships, only another relationship can heal that hurt.
Your child will forever look for the love and affection it deserved to get from you. They may find it or they may not find it.
Don’t you think it’s only fair to give them their due share of love, respect and understanding? Why leave them needy when we can give them the affection they so desire from us.
5. Spiritual Needs and Connection
You may or may not choose to differ with this point but none of us is going to live forever. While it’s important to give your child the love and affection they need and deserve, it’s also important to understand that building a strong connection between them and the Creator will help them rely on a power greater than them rather than always relying on you.
While all these relationships are important and give us strength in times of dismay, some circumstances require you to rely on a power greater than you and everyone else around you. That is a spiritual need that needs to be met. Not many of us are introduced to God right. Parents can help their children identify themselves by connecting to an entity above themselves.
What happens to a child who never had appropriate parental affection?
A child who never had appropriate parental affection is incomplete on many grounds. They may have the best car, the best dress or the latest tech but inside they lack confidence. They don’t really have a sound sense of right and wrong. They might have fears residing inside them. A few things a child with insufficient parental affection can suffer from are:
1. Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is a direct consequence of neglect on a parent’s part. A child who has a negative self-image will feel bad, ugly, unlikable, or stupid. They will always question their intelligence, beauty and sense of right and wrong. This is because they were never given the liberty to be and act as per who they truly are.
2. Feeling of alienation
Your lack of parental affection can lead to your child feeling alone, isolated and unwanted. Because they are hardly ever told their existence matters, it’s hard for them to picture themselves as a part of the community or feel that they matter too. This can halt their success as they might never feel their need in society.
Hostile behaviour is also a result of a negative self-image. Hitting, kicking, throwing tantrums, hurling abuses, disrespecting people around them, verbal attacks and bullying become a part of their personality as they are never seen as good. The parents either kept fighting in front of the child or with the child. This leads to them thinking this kind of behaviour is okay.
Aggressive and angry behaviour, as it may surprise some, is a lack of love and affection at the core. If the child, now an adult, acts unusual, tries to control others, is manipulative, is violent and unnecessarily loud, the damage was done way back when he was young.
As we already mentioned, a child who did not have appropriate parental affection doesn’t know how to give it to others. This can lead to issues while interacting at school or in other social settings. As this continues, your child might want to refrain from social activities and choose to live an antisocial life.
If you don’t believe in parental affection, think again. You are doing no good to yourself, your child and to society. If you are a child who was neglected and wasn’t given parental affection the right way, I send you all the love, hugs and kisses and ask you to remother yourself. Hug yourself, feel yourself, even if it sounds silly. Start here.