(Stock Photo/Elena Korenbaum) Many fathers feel uncomfortable lavishing love on their daughters as they bloom into young women, but a teenage girl still needs that affirmation and will seek it elsewhere if she doesn’t receive it at home. What a tremendous opportunity we have to provide the love and appropriate affection our children need.
The Importance of Affection
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JULY 05, 2007
Craig Harris, HappyNews Columnist

It feels so natural at first. A baby boy comes into the world and his parents hold, hug and kiss him without a second thought. Then, as he grows taller than they are, it doesn’t come so easily anymore. But that growing young man needs love, affirmation, and affection as much as he ever did.
It may be a little more awkward to grab a big kid and give him a bear hug, but he still needs it and we are wise to give it to him. If he doesn’t get the attention he needs at home, he’ll seek it somewhere else.
Many fathers feel uncomfortable lavishing love on their daughters as they bloom into young women, but a teenage girl still needs that affirmation and will seek it elsewhere if she doesn’t receive it at home. What a tremendous opportunity we have to provide the love and appropriate affection our children need.
I hug my kids, kiss them on the forehead or cheek, and tell them I love them every single day. That means a lot to any age person. Who doesn’t want to be shown love and affection? Who doesn’t want to be told he is loved? And an immediate reward is I get to hear my children tell me they love me right back. That’s what family is all about.
Our children still come jump in the bed with us during thunderstorms or on Saturday mornings. This is normal and healthy. Our daughter climbs in the bed for some reading time with her mother almost nightly. That is a special time for them that builds a bond of love and understanding. And I hug and kiss their mother in front of them every day, too. If they are nearby, they’ll join in for a group hug. We tell our children we love them when we’re saying goodbye, whether it’s for a day at school, bedtime, or they’re going off to camp for a week. Then, we grab them for a hug when we get back together. It’s all about letting them know they are loved. When families are affectionate, we can tell each other we are sorry; we can open up and discuss details of our lives; we feel connected, loved, and ready to take on the world.
Sometimes, I’ll be sitting in my chair when one of the children will come and plop down in my lap. I can choose to shoo them away or affirm their need for affection and connection. But I am aware that my choices have consequences. Letting the kids sit in my lap today may enable me to stop them from going to that dangerous party tomorrow.
If every child received the affection he craved, gangs would disappear. And so would a lot of the promiscuity, drug abuse, and other negative behavior associated with peer pressure.
We were created to connect to each other and this begins at home. Parents still must be parents and not friends, but showering affection on our children goes a long way toward earning the right to do that. If children know we love them because our actions show it and we tell them so, they will naturally be more attentive and obedient toward us.
Don’t ever stop hugging and kissing your children. Don’t ever stop telling them you love them, even when they become teenagers and begin to pull away from you. Show them appropriate affection and positive affirmation. In this way you will earn the right to pass down your values, to discipline them; and you may just prevent them from a world of hurt.
You can contact Craig Harris at lcraigharris.blogspot.com.