Today I've got a devotion running called "The Touch of Your Hand." Please visit Proverbs 31 to read it. I tell the story of delivering my second child and wanting to hold a stranger's hand. In that moment, I was desperate to connect with someone in my pain, and willing to ask a stranger for her hand.
As a mother of three boys, I've learned a lot about touch. Early on in parenting, I read how touch is important to children. Giving my children physical affection was easy when they were young. But as the boys grew, it was more challenging. That's when I got creative. With boys, play is important. So, at times, our touch is quite playful.
The most fun my 18-year-old and I have had in the past few weeks is when I jokingly said, "You need a spanking" and tried to playfully swat his behind. This started a game of tag between the two of us. We ended up breathless with laughter and hugging.
My second son (16) is a wrestler, and a few times I playfully boasted that I could take him down. We both know that's not true, but he loved it when I tried. Or at other times, I allow him to show me a move he's just learned. The kid is so strong, that I'm always in pain after that. But he loves to use me for demonstration purposes.
Finally, there's Robbie. At 15 he still will hold my hand, so long as there are no teenagers within view. So we have a game where we will hold hands in public, but then drop them and act nonchalant when someone walks by. He's an affectionate young man, so I don't have to be too creative with him. It's actually the teenage girls around him I worry about.
Our daughters present more of a challenge. They were 8 and 10 when God chose to add them into our family through adoption. They had not known a lot of loving and healthy touch. So we have navigated those waters slowly through the years. We have found that gentle strokes on their heads, arms or kisses to their foreheads was a way to work up to full hugs. They still aren't completely comfortable with physical affection, but we are consistent with offering loving touches throughout the day. I was rewarded the other day when my youngest daughter, age 13, asked to hold my hand walking out of church. It was a first in four years.
This need for touch is universal. Sadly, some people shy away from it due to bad experiences. But that's when a pat on the back, stroke of the arm, or high five can be a a healthy offering of touch.
What are your experiences with healthy touch? If you've got a creative way to offer it, please share.
In His Love,