We are stuck in a blur of evening school meetings at present. Last week choosing year 10 GCSE options for Alice, this week A level options for Molly and next week Alice’s parents consultations. Still I can’t think of anything better to do on a Thursday evening that hear from other people about how wonderful our girls are, it’s a lovely treat.
It was interesting this Thursday, as we got out of the car, to hear from Molly, our 16 year old “OK parents, today there are rules; Dad you can’t hold my hand, Mum you can, but I would prefer if you held my arm. Dad please don’t say anything embarrassing, Mum please don’t let him! Once we are inside school no physical contact unless I initiate it OK? I know that you love me and I love you too, but those are the rules”
Oh how they are growing up. Touch is the first expression of love that goes beyond words. Touch is your first communication with your baby, and throughout life it remains our most vulnerable and tender connection with each other. I am a physical contact person, I love hugging and being hugged; just a touch or squeeze of the top of the arm can convey your love for someone. Molly has always been the kind of child who would love to be inside my skin if she could, physical touch means so much to her. However, it now seems we have reached the stage where it is totally uncool to be seen in public holding Mum’s hand!
Every touch has a feeling that comes with it. A light soft touch expresses your warm feelings for a person; it says “I like you”. A warm gentle hug conveys “I’ll take care of you”, an affectionate embrace says “You’re safe”.
Have you ever noticed when someone takes your hand or touches you with love and sensitivity that a wonderful phenomenon occurs? Stress and tension dissolve. Fear recedes. Babies fall asleep in such soothing arms; children unwind and calm down with a gentle reassuring touch.
And a word to the wise: experts agree that premature sexual experimentation stems from a hunger for loving touch. So hold and cuddle your child as much as you can. As they grow, give affectionate hugs when they are near, snuggle up on the sofa watching movies or reading books. Hold hands if they will let you. But remember, never force a touch or a hug on a child; like all of us they have a right to maintain a comfort zone around their own physical space - as we were informed on Thursday night!
Molly didn’t want me to hold her hand, but I caught her leaning into me, sitting close to me; her way of touching without too much closeness, but maintaining the comfort levels she needed from me. When a child gives you the go-ahead, it’s ok to reach out with tenderness so that your touch is a compassionate source of comfort now and always.
‘Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.’ 1 John 4:7 NLT