Tag Archives: Hugs


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.


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.



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.



image by defies


Don’t Hug Kids

Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch  As usual perverting the  topic so I can discuss how this relates  to #EmotionalIntelligence. My topic: Not hugging kids.

Hugs can be prickly use #emotionalintelligence to know when to hug.

Hugs to Doug Savage for allowing me to use his cartoons to start my posts with a laugh. Follow him at www.savagechickens.com 

I am a hugger. Once upon a time, I assumed everyone wanted a hug. Most of us do. All I have to do around my youngest grandson is say “I need a hug” and he barrels into me with a happy face. Once upon other times, all my grandchildren responded similarly.  Then things changed. At first the reluctance to my wanting a hug was usually part of the era I call “My way or the highway” aka “The Terrible Twos.”

Sensitive soul that I can sometimes be,, I not only stopped demanding hugs or kisses but I made a contract with each of my grandchildren. That contract?  I would  always ask and they could always say “No.” And did they exercise their right to say “No.”

Confession: I so missed the hugs and kisses that I amended the contract to give myself the right to “Air kiss” or “Top of the head kiss.”  That usually became a giggly game and satisfied my need for bodily contact.

Teens and pre-teens are touchy about hugs. Hugs are too likely to stir sexual feelings or thoughts. Being attuned to body language is key.  I had hugging uncles and when I started feeling uncomfortable when they wanted to hug, I turned my body, so they only got a sideways hug.  Most got the hint.

Then there was the ongoing quarrel with one of my bosses. He objected to any physical contact with clients.  That is a therapy mantra. But mantras should only be suggestions not Eleventh Commandments.

Think for a minute.  How would you feel if you offered a hug to someone and the person turned away? Rejected? Of course?  So my rule as a therapist? A client wants a hug, a client gets a hug.

Okay, all rules have exceptions: The exception to my rule as a therapist about hugs? Not if the person seemed to be using  a  hug for sexual kicks.  That became something to discuss.  In everyday life, the same should hold true unless you and the hugger are sexual partners.


Parents should never force children to hug or kiss even the closest of relatives. The best way to teach good touch and bad touch is to let the kids decide who he or she wants to hug or kiss. Give total permission to your kid to say “No”.  

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the sort might get their feelings hurt, but a child learning to own their body starts young. 


Humans need bodily contact; but it must be respectful contact.  Don’t be afraid to offer hugs. Other ways to offer safe contact? Cuddles.  My grandsons didn’t want hugs, but they often wanted to cuddle on my lap.  My husband is not a hugger, but we cuddle each night.  Back rubs are another way of providing the touch we all need. The trick is always to ask and then to  check the answer with the other person’s body language.

Meanwhile  smile as often as you can, laugh and play,  and be grateful for all you have been given.

As always, share and care what you find helps you get and stay emotionally strong.   I hope if you find my posts of value, you will  practice internet kindness liking, rating, commenting, or sharing.

Thank you for all you do and as always work to stay strong, not always easy, but worth while.


Links and articles of interest


A blog about the importance of hugs, the ones that feel good, the ones that feel bad and the  the ones that do not involve actual contact. Hugs strengthen emotional fitness.

Picture of premature twin being hugged by his brother, This picture was taken over 17 years ago and the twins are now at least that old or older. Hugs matter.
This picture was taken over 17 years ago and the twins are now at least that old or older. Hugs matter.

A link to more about the value of hugs. This by blogger John A. Warnick.

The Five Second Hugging Practice – Seedlings.

A quote from the link:

Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, has said “(w)e need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs for maintenance.  We need twelves hugs a day for growth.” And, research in a Korea orphanage demonstrated a significant boost in the health and growth of infant orphans who received an extra 15 minutes a day of physical touching.

parenting thoughts about hugs

I’m a hugger.  I don’t think there is a nicer gift in the world than a loving hug.  My kids are huggers, and so are my smallest grands.

However, hugs are not always a welcome gift.  One of my foster children taught me that hugs hurt some.  She was one who  burrowed into my heart; but the first time I spontaneously hugged her, it was like hugging a prickly ironing board.  She had been abused and hugs triggered memories of the abuse.

I became much more attuned to the need to ask permission.

At the opposite end of my hugging experiences are an ongoing quarrel I had with one of my bosses.  At a group function where some of the kids I worked with were coming to me for hugs, he chastized me for “violating boundaries.”   He eventually threatened to fire me.  Didn’t matter to him that the kids, particularly the small ones were rushing to me with open arms.  I ignored his threats.  Rejecting a child’s hug is rejecting the child.


Tip one: Face to face hugs when wanted by both parties build physical and emotional strength.

Tip two: Be sensitive to those  not able to hug freely. Most were abused or neglected as children.  The abused have their trauma retriggered; the neglected were probably not hugged and didn’t learn how they comforted.  A few are just super sensitive physically and hugs hurt.

Tip three: Don’t hug children without their permission. The younger the child the more he or she might be okay with hugs, but unwanted hugs feel bad  and are a boundry violation. At the same time when a child comes to you for a hug, refusing is hurtful.

Tip four: Give non-physical hugs. How? Sincere praise and compliments.

Tip five: As a social media person, give virtual hugs.


Asking for hugs when needed can strengthen both parties.  So I am asking you to send me some virtual hugs.  Hillel, a sage from long ago, said,  “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”

So, this will be a week of posts and reminders about me and my birthday  and book launch bash. .  Here is the agenda.

My 76th Birthday bash

This event is actually  a huge experiment on my part.  I am learning as I go. One thing I have been struggling with is how to keep the posts threaded.  Threading on Facebook is a way you can follow and comment on a specific post that interests you easily.  I particularly  want those people joining the Be With Beauty Contest to be able to post in one place.

Facebook is experimenting with threading and it appears now that only groups allow threading.  So I have established two groups. Be With Beauty and My 76th Birthday Bash and Book Launch.  I have invited a few of you, some who have said they will come to my bash and others I thought might come if there was an easier way.  Hoping this is an easier way.

One friend has already posted on the Be With Beauty Group.  It would help me see if this strategy works if any of you on Facebook would join that group and post a picture of Beauty. Nature pictures only; must be your own picture.

Finally, watch for a post about the launch of my Newsletter.  I know many of you would prefer fewer posts from me.  The Newsletter will accomplish that.

Thank all of you for supporting me in this experiment and all the other ways you support me.