You’re Cheating Your Kids if You Aren’t Giving Them Enough Affection

AffectionA show of hands: do your kids still let you give them kisses and hugs in public? Ugh, the horror. Mom, you are like soooo embarrassing. What will people think? Ick. (Cue feverish wiping of the cheeks and embarrassed stalking away.)
 
I went through a brief phase when Girl Child seemed to think she was too grown or too cool — both of which were crazy far from the truth — to let me give her a peck before she walked into school or got dropped off at a friend’s house. I think it was the fifth grade, maybe the sixth. Whenever it was, it didn’t last long. “Don’t ever be embarrassed to kiss your mommy,” scolded one of the ladies at church who’d seen The Girl try to dodge one of my smooches. “You’re never too old for your mother’s love.” Surprisingly, it worked. (Upon further review, perhaps I should put that woman on staff.)

Am I the only mom who still smothers her big kid with kisses and hugs?

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Giving regular doses of physical affection is just the norm around our household. I mentioned before that I didn’t even realize there was anything taboo about moms giving their kids pecks on the lips until I came across a blog post lambasting P. Diddy’s ex, Kim Porter, for laying one on her son, Justin. I was shocked. Up until that point, it was something I hadn’t even thought about. My mom still kisses me. My grandmother still kissed her. And of course, I keep the tradition going by kissing my daughter. We’re pretty free with our affection in the Harris clan.

We kiss and hug coming in and do it all over again when we’re leaving out. (And we do it to visitors too, so be forewarned if you ever stop by.) But I will say this: because none of my aunts, uncles, cousins, or parents is afraid of a little schmaltz, I’ve never questioned whether I was loved. I knew it because I felt it. I think it’s one of the hallmarks that makes our gang so great.

Unlike folks who pity the fool to try and get within 10 feet of their personal space, no matter how much genetic similarities they share, I think my family’s affectionate ways have kept us close through life experiences that have destroyed others. We don’t squabble over money or entertain petty rivalries, for example, and when my grandparents made their individual transitions to glory, there was no beef whatsoever about who would get what or how much each of their five children would inherit.

Sometimes I listen to other people talk about their aunts gossiping about their mother behind her back or their sister trying to move in on the boyfriend they brought home for the holidays and feel a tinge of sadness for them. I can’t imagine having that kind of drama with my family. Friends, maybe. (Even though, thank goodness, I haven’t really had that problem either — just a few flakes here and there who took more than they gave.) Our affection isn’t cosmetic. It’s real and, dare I say, even preventative. We ain’t perfect, now. But we do love each other and it shows, even beyond the hugs and kisses.

Miss Skylar is being raised the same way I was, and open expressions of adoration fall free and frequently. When she brings home a good grade on a test. When she takes out the trash without me having to remind her. When she’s had a rough day at school, a fight with a friend, or a bad dance practice. And sometimes — a lot of times — I’ll call her over just to give her a hug or kiss for no reason at all or holler, “Hey Sky! I love you!” from the kitchen into her room.

There are other ways to show love and affection, too, and discipline and establishing some kind of structure are two of them. But nothing beats being in your mama or daddy’s arms, no matter how old you get (or how grown you think you are). Go. Run. Give your kid a long, backbending hug or a big ol’ smooch on the cheek. That’s what they’re there for.

Did you grow up in an affectionate household? Has it affected how affectionate you are with your kids?


Image via Nisha A/Flickr

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