29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #25

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.

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #24

24.  Laugh with your children.  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22).  One of the ways to keep a joyful heart in your home is to look for joy in the journey, not just in reaching the destination.  Yes, there is satisfaction in reaching the destination, in achieving our goals.  But we also need to learn to be of good cheer along the way.

Laughter really is good medicine.  Being able to laugh together is a great way to lift the mood at your house.  One of the important distinctions to making laughter an affirming action in your home is to recognize the balance between laughing at ourselves and our situations while not laughing at other’s shortcomings or embarrassments.

Our children understood how to treat people’s challenges with compassion.  As a result, our laughter was never directed at other’s mistakes, foolish words, or physical features.  We reserved our laughter for funny situations that did not embarrass or belittle others.  We laughed out of joy and good cheer, not over the cleverness of a smart insult.  We tried to keep our laughter Mr. Rogers approved.  That’s a laughter you can feel good about!

We all have been gifted by God with various personality types.  Some of us are naturally more serious than others.  If you are a serious adult, it may take an extra effort to laugh with your kids.  For example, a mom shared with us how over time she realized that when she is thinking intently her face just naturally goes to a frown, something she has no control over.  But her children assumed this thinking expression meant Mom was angry.  Two things improved the situation.  Her kids needed to give Mom some grace and accept her thinking look for what it was, a thoughtful expression, not a communication of anger.  And Mom, for her part, needed to work on putting on an affirming expression during her thoughtful conversations with her kids.  An affirming kiss on the forehead also helps which we will talk about next time.