Great Dads know the value of a hug.

It is well researched that hugs are good for us. Whether we are a newborn, a geriatric or anyone in-between, we need physical contact for survival. Hugs are powerful! They make us smarter, they help us feel safer and in general, they can make just about any glum situation feel a little better. These amazing small acts boost our self-esteem and even lower our cortisol levels (the brain stuff that skyrockets when we are stressed). How do they do this? They cause the release of the magical ‘feel good’ hormone- oxytocin. Basically, hugs are just all around ‘warming to the soul’ and ‘feel good’ acts which are essential for human interaction, for feeling loved, for feeling valued, and for believing we are worthwhile human beings.You may be thinking, well this is a mom’s department… Definitely NOT so! Dads, it is critically important for your children that physical affection is a significant part of your relationship with them, even for your older kids (Yip, those ones that slam doors in your face and tell you they hate you, too). It’s easy to show physical affection to our kids at a younger age, and this often seems to extend into the adult years for our daughters (apart from a few prickly teen moments). But all too often, as our little boys become bigger boys, and then much bigger boys, many Dads in particular drop the hugs for the ‘more acceptable’ high fives, handshakes, shoulder-pats…. the pressure is on to teach them to ‘be a man’… Problem… The high fives, the handshakes, and the shoulder-pats just don’t leave our children feeling valued and loved quite as much as a firm embrace. An embrace that communicates “I accept all that you are”… “I love you, unconditionally.” Even when our teens, in their natural fight for autonomy, seem to reject our attempts at physical contact, what matters is that they still know that you, especially you, Dad, WANT to embrace them. What matters is that they know that you are willing to stand there and to take the rolling eyes and the attitude that gets flung…. but the point, and what’s important to them, is that you STILL STAND THERE…During tween and teenage years when hormones rage and acne sprouts, and when the fear of rejection from peers is at the forefront of many of our young adult’s minds, something as simple as a hug can do wonders for a child’s sense of self. An embrace from you, Dad, is a powerful communicator- “I love you just the way you are”… “All of you is acceptable and lovable to me.” What about when our kids are melting down? When our boys, in particular, are crying? It’s so easy to let damaging statements like, ‘Grow up and be a man,’ or ‘Boys don’t cry’ pass through our lips. Dads, boys DO cry, they SHOULD feel free to cry, and they should be able to feel loved enough, safe enough and vulnerable enough in your company to be able to do this. And when they do, what they are actually expressing, is, ‘I need connection.’ A hug is a powerful way to give them this, to communicate recognition, to communicate, “I see you, and I love you, just as you are, with all that you bring.”In a society where we are too busy, too rushed and too frantic to often even communicate meaningfully on a verbal level, we need to ensure that physical affection towards our children, no matter their age, is not left in the gutter alongside the aftermath of the chaos of life…What if you’ve never been ‘a hugger’? Good news- it’s never too late to begin. Kids, all kids, need to feel loved, to feel valued, to feel connected to. There is such profound beauty and power through the simplicity of a hug.Hug your kids, Dad, little and big… In doing this, you are filtering belief, self-confidence, and love into their souls… Be a great Dad… be an awesome Dad… be a Dad who knows the value of hugging his children…

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