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Wednesday, December 6, 1989

The Importance of Touch  


I grew up in a highly religious and
very strict house . Part of that mindset
is no touching. Our house was a very "hands
off house", right down the the separate twin
beds my Grandparents slept in. What this led
to with me is I am a person who needs lots of
personal space and feel crowded and uncomfortable
with the "touchers!"

I also had the sense enough to understand
the too little touching is just as unhealthy as
too much touching and knew I could not raise
my child to be the same way as me. With
family dynamics like that people have to
work hard to change the mindset and make
an everyday conscience effort. Everyday
I made sure to tell me son Loved him and
give him at least one hug. I know these sound
like everyday things and should come Natural
but they are only natural if that is the way you
were raised and was not so for me it was work.

16 years later I can proudly say he
is fine with Physical contact though I still struggle.
The funny part now is even though he is not an
"Over -Toucher" he can still make me uncomfortable
at times and leave me feeling crowded. Now that
I have a new daughter I have to start the process
over again and wanted to do some research
to verify if the feeling I had that such a hands-off
approach to raising kids really was unhealthy.
Here is what I found.

People who grow up in environments without
touching are less compassionate. Things do
not affect people that grow up this was as
they would other people. A simple shoulder
squeeze displays a connection that when
with held does not allow the person to
emphasize with other people.

They are also more emotionally
Isolate. When you grow up in a world
like that you tend to keep not only
your body parts but your feelings to

People that grow up without
basic physical contact end up having
a hard time later in life distinguishing
the difference between appropriate
contact and in- appropriate. This can
leave them open to molestation or
other forms of abuse.

Last of all it can leave them emotionally
stunted. How can you grow as a person
when you do not experience the full
spectrum of feelings? Stoicism is not
the only feeling out there and people
who feel the need to segregate themselves
will often stop their emotional growth at
that phase and not move past it.

Studies have shown that even Babies
react to peoples expressions and posturing
and this tells us that a comfort level with
ones own self starts at an early age. I had
to try this one out myself and both my son
and I saw Rowan in her high chair and made
frowning faces. Soon she was ready to cry
so we started smiling. Giggles abound.
Rowan can already read our moods and
models hers after the people who care
for her. There for it is very important not
to swing the pendulum to far in either way.
To teach your child what is appropriate
touching or not start early. When she needs
comfort, hug them and smile. Let them know
comfort comes with Love. If you are a person
who has children and a hard time with physical
contact make sure that when they get older
to explain the difference between correct contact
and inappropriate. Don't assume they "know"
because you do.

Try to give your older Children pats
on the back or a shoulder squeeze. They
may squirm and wriggle away but they
subconsciously get the message you care
about them. Let your loved one or Significant
other know your boundaries but try to
entertain theirs as well. Give them a massage
once in a while or practice other forms of
intimacy outside your comfort level to let
them know you are working on increasing
yours if they scale back theirs a little.
Verbal communication does wonders as
well for people tend to believe it is them
when you shrug away or tense up when
they embrace you. All in all know
your boundaries but don't cement them
in stone, teach your children to be
more then you are and make sure to
include you partner in your comfort zone.
After all you will be together a life time,
develop healthy habits now!

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Picture I used on cards

Picture I used on cards
Rowan with soap hair