Each night my children and I spend anywhere between fifteen minutes and two hours together. Most of that time is spent reading before bedtime, but that time is also used to reconnect.
Many years ago, my wife and I attended a Gary Smalley seminar where he briefly mentioned the importance of touch. It’s something we all need to live. So I thought to myself that if I don’t supply my children with enough positive words and touches each day then there may come a time in their teen years that they look for that need elsewhere and end up experimenting with touch in ways that isn’t allowed outside of marriage.
So I asked my kids, “Do you get enough loving touches throughout the day: pats on the head, pats on the back, hugs, kisses… stuff like that?” They all answered “no”. So I wondered – how much do they need? Then came the question. “How many times do you feel you would need to know you are loved?” The eldest child only thought briefly before saying her answer: “Twenty times!”.
That’s quite a bit of touching to take place over the two to three hours I have available for them during the week days. With the size of my family, if everyone got 20 touches a day that would add up to 100 touches a day – not including our dog.
If that were spread throughout a three-hour-twenty-minute period it comes out to touching someone every 2 minutes.
I only remember getting a meaningful touch about once every other week growing up, which was still more than most of the kids I knew. I’ll bet our society has even pulled back to the point that children are only given a meaningful touch once a month, and that’s reserved for when the child initiates the hug.
One last thought – giving my children that access to my personal space makes me a tangible figure for them. I become more real and more accessible in ways beyond the physical. Hopefully they’ll learn that and come to their real accessible Dad during the more trying years ahead.