“Okay, Okay,” I say, throwing my hands up and walking out of my daughter’s bedroom, “I still love you.” I tell her before shutting the door behind me.
The sweet baby girl I held in my hands at birth and snuggled in bed as I nursed, who, as a toddler giggled all the time and thought that the leaves in trees were tree stars, was now a teenager plunging under her covers hiding, refusing a good morning hug from her Mom.
I am doing my best not to take it personally because the research says this is common with teens. Lots of kids stop wanting hugs from their parents from about fifteen years old until nearly 22 years of age.
But I feel like a fraud because at the same time this is happening, my new brand is launching and it’s aimed at encouraging connection and human touch. How can I bring a message like that when my own daughter doesn’t even want me to touch her?
Of course, kids need to break off from that baby bonding moment that touch provided in the beginning stages of life so they can gain their independence as young adults. But it is as if a child knows instinctively they must cut off the hugs for a time, in order to become their own independent person.
That says a lot about the power of touch.
It has been written that touch is the first sense we acquire, and that touch is literally our first language as babies. It’s even been called the secret weapon for successful relationships.
According to studies, we are capable of determining eight distinct emotions from touch alone – anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness and sadness. Accuracy rates have been recorded as high as 78 percent. So when a child says, (or when anyone says,) don’t touch me, there may be a lot more behind their words than they are even aware of.
For someone so close to me like my daughter, I am trying to respect those times when my touch isn’t welcome to her.
I’m reminded of the words of the late Wayne Dyer about the importance of letting go and releasing the need to control people we love, and the words of Catherine Ponder, that we can hold people captive by our thoughts if we are not careful.
As I finish typing this piece I am watching my hands graze the keyboard and I now understand the power they represent to hold back or release those I love to go forward in their own endeavors. And, my thoughts drift to the first time my baby girl ever discovered her own hands...what a wonderful moment that was.