Have you hugged your teenager today?
Some of my fondest memories as a little girl are being down on the living room floor play wrestling with my father. I’m not exactly sure why we started doing this…I think we must have watched too many episodes of Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling. Anybody with me on that one?? Then, I distinctly remember all of those shenanigans coming to an end around the age of 12. He would say that we couldn’t wrestle anymore because it wouldn’t be appropriate. I never argued; I assumed he was right – that it would be weird for us to keep up this childhood game. And, I think many fathers feel the same way.
I came across a great article published by Active For Life recently. It’s a Canadian group that promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyles. The article talks about the importance of roughhousing with your kids – especially daughters!! Horsing around together increases the father-child bond and can help girls feel more confident. Wow, how interesting. The article doesn’t talk about an appropriate age at which this should stop. So, in my opinion, there is no reason to stop. Roughhousing is fun, burns off stress and can make your kids more physically literate, as the article suggests.
I’m going to take it one step further and say that physical touch, in general, between parents and teenagers is vitally important. As our kids get older, bigger and more developed, we may find ourselves shying away from that embrace – it may feel slightly awkward to hug this teenager who looks and feels more like an adult. You may find fewer obvious opportunities to show affection, now that nighttime hugs and kisses aren’t required anymore. And, let’s just be honest, if they are being a bit snarky and moody, it may not be your natural inclination to offer a loving embrace. But, I believe they need it…and, in fact, they crave it.
Last year, I attended a talk at our local high school aimed at keeping our kids safe – the speaker talked about reducing the risk for drugs, alcohol, and sexual assault. I was intrigued when one of the speakers talked about the importance of fathers hugging their daughters. She said that if girls do not feel that kind of “safe” affection at home, they will look for it elsewhere, and potentially find themselves in unhealthy relationships or relationships they’re just not really ready for.
“When girls know they are loved by their fathers they generally don’t go seeking love indiscriminately from other males. Too many times, the lack of a good father/daughter relationship leads to promiscuity and unwed pregnancy.” — Gary and Joy Lundberg, Family Share
Wow, who knew a simple hug could be so powerful?
Sometimes, when my husband and I are having a disagreement or he senses I’m stressed, he’ll say,”Give me a hug.” And if I give a half-assed one, he’ll say,”Give me a REAL hug.” I laugh, because he’s right. A hug immediately diffuses tension and releases endorphins.
So, go ahead… a hug or a headlock – you choose! Just don’t forget that our kids need our physical affection, no matter how old they are.