25. The importance of physical touch. We know, both instinctively and through child development research, that babies who are held, hugged, and kissed are generally more emotionally healthy than those left for long periods of time without physical contact. And long before a child understands anything about the meaning of love, they experience and feel love through our physical touch. A hug, a kiss, a touch all communicate an affirming love to your child, a feeling that is only accentuated if physical touch is also their primary love language.
But with or without the love language impact, the value of touch cannot be overstated. As children get older the forms of touch change, but the basic message of love continues to be communicated through our touch. That teenage boy who backs away from a hug may just need a touch on the arm, a pat on the back, or a good old-fashioned head lock. As with our laughter topic, if you were raised in a household where physical touch was not a common expression of love, you may need to work harder to break the chain and bring the value of touch into you home.
And I hope it goes without saying that Dad needs to be sensitive to appropriate touch as their daughters grow up and develop. A hug, a kiss on the forehead, a squeeze on the arm all say, “I am there for you.” They never reach an age when touch is not needed. Just make sure your daughters are affirmed by your touch, not alarmed by it.
Jesus’ healing ministry was constantly accompanied by physical touch. “Jesus took [Jairus’ daughter] by the hand and called, saying, ‘Child, arise!’ And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately” (Lk 8:54-55). “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him” (Mt 20:34). “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Mt 8:3).
Jesus’ touch was also a way to experience His blessing. “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them … And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them” (Mk 10:13,16). We bless and affirm our children through physical touch.