I made a sign that hangs in my kitchen that says, "Don't forget your daily hugs." I didn't think I would forget to hug my husband, my kids, and my pets, but I was surprised to discover that sometimes I did forget to make sure everybody got enough hugs! I thought I would hang a sign up as an awareness practice. My kids will sometimes come up to me now and ask me if I need a hug, or ask for a hug for themselves. It is something that I treasure, and will forever.
It seems that most of our world is touch deprived. It is a well known fact that if babies aren't touched enough, they do not thrive. It is essential to humans to be touched. I wonder how many people go through a whole day without touching anyone. I feel sad about this. I think it is sad that so many people have become afraid to "get in someone's personal space". I am all for respecting boundaries, but I think we have gone overboard. In my opinion, it is a symptom of a culture that is also afraid to show emotions. By hugging someone, we might have to feel a feeling along with the hug. Some have been taught that this is a scary thing, and it is to be avoided.
I actually witnessed a young child fall backwards off a chair and her father didn't even get up to help her up or to make sure she was okay. He was too worried about other people watching them. He made a comment to the child that she should have watched what she was doing. She was clearly hurting, but not once did he hug her or comfort her. I wanted to go to her and offer comfort, but I didn't know her, so this would have been a problem, I'm sure. I think about babies and young children that aren't getting touched and held enough. I think about babies that go from crib, to high chair to car seat, to bouncy seat, back to crib. Some of them aren't getting much contact at all.
I think we can get rid of the baby gear, make a sling to carry the baby, and hold the baby as much as possible. Ignore anyone who says that the baby is getting spoiled, that is just not possible! Babies especially, must be held and touched. This is how they learn to trust and to love. When they are being carried, they learn about the world from a safe place. I also slept with my kids, and it was the best thing I could have ever done! We became so in sync that I would wake up about 10 seconds before they needed to nurse in the nighttime. It opened up my heart more than I thought possible. It felt like a primal instinct. It felt so right, even though there were people saying it was bad or unsafe.
Our journey began when I turned away from what the mainstream parenting was telling me I should be doing. I knew in my heart that my babies needed close contact with me, so this is what I gave them. They thrived while getting huge amounts of contact and touch. I don't think we stop needing this closeness and comfort just because we get older. Although it is taught that as kids get older, they become "big" girls or boys, and they are expected to not need so much. Again, I think this is a symptom of our dysfunction. We are human, therefore we need to be touched and hugged, and comforted no matter how old we are.
I hope that we find ways to lose the baby gear, so that every baby gets a healthy amount of touch right from the start. I am sure we could find ways to recycle the gear that is already here into something more useful. Then we can hold our babies and our children, and keep hugging and holding each other forever. No age limit on hugs! I think this is part of the recipe that our world needs in order to heal and to find peace all around. So, hang up your signs and practice hugging everyday. Don't forget your dogs and cats and other pets!