WHEN HUGS DON’T WORK

One of my foster kids taught me that not all want hugs and that hugs can hurt. She was pretty, almost sixteen, and had been much abused. She hated hugs.

I think she had been made to have sex with men as part of a ring of child abusers. We were often not told  our kids histories.  something I  preferred, gave all of us a clean start.

The first time I spontaneously reached out to hug her, she froze.  I can still feel her pain.  That experience taught me to always ask, “Can I have a hug?” I also learned to be aware that some say “Yes” when they mean “No.”

I found this  article unclear on the promise of the title: How to Comfort a Family Member – Families Who Don’t Hug – Oprah.com. A daughter was seeking comfort but didn’t get what she wanted, which she said was just a hug.

The article was designed to get families to hug more often, but never made the point that hugs are not always wanted.

When I am upset, I don’t want hugs. If I am complaining about something, I usually don’t even want advice.  I want to be listened to and maybe a tiny bit of sympathy, but often the best thing to do when I am upset is listening and nodding your head.

Once my ranting is  winding down, an encouraging sentence  might help, but the best is to ask, “What do you need from me to help?”

Often the answer is “nothing.”

That generally means I want to be left alone to quiet myself.  When that is the case, a hug hurts, just as all hugs hurt my sexually abused foster child.  Why.  The body gets tense and edgy when strong feelings are aroused. A hug feels bad.

The other side of the coin came during my practice as a  therapist.  My boss commanded me not to hug.  I chose to disobey.  How when a kid is hurling themselves at you can you not hug?

There does come a time when most kids who loved hugs as a young child, no longer want to be hugged. Be attuned to this and don’t insist. The reasons are many and complex, mainly having to do with growing awareness of sexual feelings.

Parenting advice and tips

First parenting tip: If someone clearly wants a hug, do your best to be open to that.  If you aren’t, acknowledge that you aren’t a very good hugger.  “We didn’t do that in my family, so I am still trying to learn” might work.

Second parenting tip: When you want to give a hug, always ask first and make it clear you expect to honor their feelings.

Third parenting tip: Do not tell you children to hug or kiss someone even a grand parent.  Cannot get most parents to do that, even my own kids ask that of their kids. So I make a separate deal with my grandchildren as soon as they are able to talk. If I ask for a hug or a kiss or their parents insist I get one,they are free to say “No.”

I let them slap me five or  give them a quick kiss or a top of the head kiss. Doing so gives them control over their body and I think that matters.

STAY STRONG

Thank you for all you do, enjoy and be grateful for all you have been given, practice kindness, like, share or comment. Sharing is caring.

Katherine

WORD PRESS DAILY PROMPT

This post does not relate to this today Aug 6, 2014 DAILY PROMPT Writer’s Block Party. When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?

While I describe figuring out how to get and give hugs, the fact is that applies to just about everything.  You have to know when there is problem, sort out how it is a problem, develop strategies and persist.

Here’s how that applies to writing.  I rarely have trouble writing.  When I can’t more ahead on one thing I am working on, I move on to something else.  Happy about that.

But finishing something on my own, is a big problem.  They say re-writing is essential and I re-write and re-write and re-write and after a certain point stuff starts getting worse not better.  Partly this is related to having dysgraphia and every time I re-write I do catch mistakes. It is a problem because it keeps me from getting stuff out there.

But I do persist. I blog four times a week and do the Daily Prompts to force myself  to finish somethings, not when perfect, but when good enough.  But also because I doing something and finishing it gives me a boost.

LINKS OF INTEREST

 

image by defies

 

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