Be the Dad 15. Be the Positive touch Dad
Are you a hugger? Be the guy that enables your family to feel safe, secure, accepted and loved through the power of positive touch.
Touch = Love, acceptance and security.
When you hug your kids and your wife, you are communicating in one of the most powerful ways - touch. In that moment, they have all of your attention, time and one of the most special things that you can give, affection. You are affirming them by your desire to be near them. You don’t hug people that you don’t like or who you don’t know, you hug people that you really love and your family know that.
If you have had negative or no positive touch experiences role-modeled in your past, there are great keys below for you to move forward and to show love by touch.
Touch = Physical attention and affection
My Dad - The shameless kisser
My Dad, not loud or outspoken but consistent. You could keep time by my Dad’s morning routine of skipping, prayer and porridge. Every morning before we left for school he would come up to each of us kids and give us a kiss on the forehead. From the age of five all the way through to 17. When I left school I still lived at home and I would drop him off at school (he was a teacher) occasionally on my way to work. The first time I did this, we were in the crowded dropoff zone, with kids and teachers all around and Dad was about to get out when, wait, he had forgotten something, he leaned across and kissed me on the forehead. For an instant I felt embarrassed, a man being kissed on the forehead in front of all these people! But then I realised, Dad has done this everyday, why would he stop and why would he care who its in front of, the most important thing was for his kids to feel loved.
Dad would give us a kiss on the forehead even as adults
Positive Touch vs culture
Touch has a bad reputation in media, in the news its associated with wrong touching and abuse. In movies it's about being staunch or physical attention in a sexual manner. What portrayal have you seen on TV, social media or the movies recently where positive, safe physical attention has been role-modelled? You would need to look hard to find it.
If we don’t teach our kids what positive touch looks like, they will go looking for love through touch in the way that popular culture and the mainstream media portrays which is sexual affection.
Touch the incredible healer
Touch is an amazing healer. My Mum had not been hugged a whole lot as a kid due to her father being a staunch southern man. She was great at showing us affection but there was a need in her heart to feel loved and accepted by touch. In my teens, I noticed how much Mum loved and responded to a good hug so I started doing this more and more and I believe that this has helped in filling this void that she felt. Imagine what your positive touch is doing now in your child's life to set them up for a healthy adult life.
Positive touch builds up the receiver
The positive physical affection that you give will define what touch should look like - giving and caring, not taking. It should always be a benefit to the person receiving the affection. It will generate a feeling of safety, security and belonging.
Identifying and moving past what is holding you back:
Not knowing how to show physical affection appropriately and positively. You may not have been shown physical affection in your past, let's look at some of these and some great keys to help you move forward:
The belief that you need to be staunch/ macho or tough to show your kids the world is a hard place. The World may be a hard place, out there, but in here, in the family with trusted members, its a safe secure place. Being loved intensely in the family prepares your kids to weather the hardness out there. Your love in your family will warm the outside world.
Abuse in your past. This is tough and painful and I can’t start to imagine what a hard road this would be. This is the role-modelling of touch in the wrong ways and you will need help to repair this damage. This is damage that can be repaired, my friend, Matt Brown from My Fathers Barbers has an amazing story of this damage being repaired in his life, he has stopped a negative cycle and is now loving his kids in all the right ways. I will put up his story when it goes up online. I encourage you to seek professional help to see these past hurts healed and move past them.
Don’t let bad touch in your past stop you from giving good touch in your future.
Your family culture is not to show physical affection. Who started this in the past of your family that it would become a thing not to touch? Stop and think, ‘would my family be better or worse for hugging more and showing that we love each other through touch?’. Once you have made the decision that it is a good healthy thing, start small and start hugging once a day and go from there. You can be the point in time that your future family culture changes.
Find a good rolemodel of physical affection: Find a role model, a Dad who is loving his family through touch and observe how he does it.
11 Great ways to show Physical affection:
Touch has been identified as one of the top five ways that people feel loved, here are a few keys to help show love through touch:
Watching tv and reading together
Arms around shoulders when walking
Piggy back or shoulder rides
Kissing on the cheek or forehead
Wrestling (we call them cuddle rumbles so that the aim is not to hurt someone)
Drawing guessing game on their back. Draw a number a they guess what it is.
How often? Just overdo it, hug them in the morning when you first see them, at night when they go to bed, come and give them a kiss on the forehead or cheek before you leave for work and when you get home. Aim to be accused by your kids of hugging too much.
Dad’s you can do it, I know that positive touch is going to be amazing for your family, be the positive Touch Dad!