Kids Need Their Mom to…Never Stop Touching Them
“Dude, what did you just say?” his cool friend asked as he reacted with mock horror and yet with just a little envy.
“Uh…” With a deep voice, the embarrassed one tried to recover a tiny drop of dignity. “I just like my mom to scratch my back before I fall asleep.”
The truth is, all of my now-teenage kids like me to scratch their backs, and play with their hair, and just sit on the side of their beds until they can’t think of one more thing to tell me.
I love that we have a loving home, but honestly, this kind of affection has been an intentional pursuit ever since my first baby was born. I’m afraid that without an everyday choosing, we may have drifted apart—especially as we all learned to navigate their journeys toward separation and independence.
When my children were younger, a man whose name I can’t even remember told me, “Never stop touching them. When you walk past your children in the kitchen, reach out and brush their shoulder. When you see them in the morning, hug them and tousle their hair. Touch them every day, many times a day, and never stop.” He was right. His instructions are, to this day, the foundation for the tender, positive relationships I have with my children. There is affection in our home. These days, I am mostly the initiator, but even in these distance-testing teen years, all of my kids receive my touch, and I can feel the unspoken safety and love it transfers to them.
On the days my kids feel quiet or grumpy and obviously need a little space, I try to use fewer words and just put a gentle hand to their shoulder. A little squeeze. A tiny kiss to the forehead. A little reminder that my love is the same. On their silly days I can hug them like a crazy mama.
To touch someone can communicate a million things, but with my children, I have always wanted my touch to say to them, I am madly in love with you. My love is unconditional. You will never outgrow your mama’s love.
When I was a single mom and our world was insecure, I tried to lean into them with even more consistent touch and affection. Mandatory Uno games on top of my bed before bedtime. Movie nights with the five of us together on a pallet on the floor. Closer seemed to make us feel safer. Touch seemed to say to them, We’re going to be okay, I promise.
Maybe sometime long ago, touching your child just slipped away. I believe moms have been given the power to restore affection. Reintroduce your touch as soon as you can. A loving hug. The stroke of their hair. A pat on the arm. Let them remember with the simple gesture of your touch that they are loved, they are yours, and the bond will never be broken.
Never stop touching them. The gift of your enduring affection will become one of the greatest gifts you ever give to their souls.
Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful?, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask.