“We need 4 hugs a day for survival.
We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.
We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
I’ve been blessed with nine children. The oldest is married. The youngest is four. Yesterday I sat behind a father holding his baby and missed all of my babies. Emotions flooded in as I watched him walk to another one of his sons, squat down, and comfort him with whispered words and a hug that completely enveloped the boy.
Ten minutes later he bent down and wrapped his daughter in his arms.
“I love you,” he said. She nodded into his chest as her tears welled. She needed both- the words and the hug.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about touch, how we might not know how much we need it or take it for granted.
I held all of my babies from the minute they were born until they could sit on their own without toppling over and hurting themselves. Even then I’d follow their lead and carry them if they wanted me to. My arms would ache, but I got so strong! I remember feeling overwhelmed with each child as I looked months ahead, realizing that they would be attached at the hip and then the backpack for at least 18 months.
I also recall vividly the struggle I had inside as well-meaning friends and family would tell me, “Put him down! You can’t hold him all the time!” Believe me, there were times when I had wished for more time with no touch from anyone because I was always sought out for a hug, a wrestle, or as a comfy place to sit on or next to.
But I know I did the right thing. And I’d do it all over again because it brought so much peace and happiness and security into my life and the lives of my children.
These days I’m aware of how precious a hug is. I stood in the kitchen with my 14-year-old son last night and saw a depressed soul. He was just tired, but he really looked like he needed a hug. So, I bridged the gap between us and pulled him to my shoulder and told him, “I love you.” “Love you, too,” he quietly answered. Seconds later he hit me in the arm signalling the need to provoke me to wrestle or chase him.
I’m watching my children grow up and out of my home. But they will never outgrow the need to be touched. That realization brought me to contemplate all of you who have nobody who needs you to pick them up, to comfort them, or to wrestle or play with them.
There’s so much research that validates the need to touch and to be touched. In her article,“Do People Need Human Touch?“, Nori Soriano lists a few of the benefits”
- proper development
- to avoid creating a vicious cycle of neglect
But I don’t need the research really because I know how it feels and I know what I’ve seen as I’ve watched my children get their needs met. I understand the criticism when I hug anyone and everyone. I get it that it makes some observers uncomfortable. But the recipients never complain when they get touched. Sometimes I give arm punch or a teasing shove when a hug is too intrusive.
Be courageous and kind today and reach out and touch someone. 🙂
I came across this video last week on Facebook. It says a lot. Enjoy!