Children have a wonderful way of seeing the world. Every day is an adventure. They are desperately grasping at every bit of information to feed their insatiable curiosity. If you have spent much time with a child lately you likely have experienced the endless questioning. If you haven’t had the privileged, check out It’s Great, You’ll Love It! Recently my dear daughter asked me one of those questions that leaves a parent in thought for weeks.
“Mom, why do you like hugs?”
Now, this is a simple answer in the moment. I responded with something along the lines of - because I love to wrap my arms around you to show you how much I love you. But the question had me thinking… and thinking… why do I like hugs?
I grew up in an affectionate home. When I woke up and when I was tucked into bed there were hugs and kisses. I saw my parents hugging one another and holding hands. When I returned from school or practices, I was greeted with a smile and a hug. Both sets of grandparents were quick to give me hugs and often a kiss on the cheek. It was common to sit on a lap to read a book or eat cookies and milk. Being held and hugged is a connection to the good memories from my young childhood.
As I grew older there were times of grief or illness that my family would embrace to provide comfort. Getting a hug and crying in my dad’s arms was the only way to recognize my way through the heart-breaking loss upon hearing one of our favorite aunt’s had died. Laying my head in my mom’s lap while she would trace my arm as we watched TV was how I overcame strep throat and broken arms. Being held and hugged is a connection to recovery and healing from my older childhood.
In my teen years hugs were a way of celebrating – squeezing out the extra energy you did not know what to do with. When I met a goal at the gym or achieved success at a meet squeezing my parents was where I placed the overwhelming energy of enthusiasm. When I did well on a school exam it was not uncommon for my mom and I to dance in the kitchen and end the dance laughing and hugging. Giving hugs is a connection to happy memories from my adolescence.
I learned from many of my friends that this was not common in their home. Their homes were full of injury and insult. It was common for me to hug my close friends to make sure they knew someone cared. I remember thinking, “If I could just share a piece of what I have with another person, it may help.” I never felt I needed to apologize they did not have the same type of love at home I had. I did, however, have a feeling I needed to be worthy of it by passing it along. Giving hugs or holding a hand is a connection to paying forward the love I received as a young adult.
When I became a mom, I could not hold my babies enough. I would take with each child through their infancy to hold them just because I wanted to. I love holding them when they need the healing. I love hugging them to ease the burden of grief. I love hugging them to celebrate. I love hugging them to pass on the love my parents infused in me. I hope one day they can pass it on in the same way.
Once I reflected on why I like hugs, I had to dig a bit deeper on this hugging thing. Research has found that we should get eight hugs a day to get the full benefits listed below:
Reduces heart rate
Increases ability to concentrate
Better night’s rest
Quickens muscle regeneration
Builds trust and a sense of safety
Relieve stress, depression, and anxiety
People who are stressed, depressed, or feeling anxious are less likely to want to be hugged. Research has shown that people who are struggling in these ways may not want to be hugged or even touched. Building trust and creating a comfortable can help them work through their feelings to allow themselves to gain the benefits of hugs.
Something seeming so simple – a hug. A question coming from such an innocent place of curiosity has a much more complicated answer. One of the best parts of a hug is when you give one you get one in return. Whether it is frequent practice in your home today or not share a hug before you go end your day. Start sharing your light with those around you. You may very well be healing something you did not know was broken.
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