COLUMN: 100 Dads – Be free and plenty with hugs

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Chris is a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and husband to Jen, (Mom #47) another veteran of our Forces. This big, broad biker has had two tours in Afghanistan and takes great pride in having served and protected his country.

These days Chris enjoys a peaceful life in a beautiful world surrounded by love and wilderness. His retirement has been well earned.

With all six children tackling adulthood Chris recalls parenting brought a lot of fun; however, it his most recent title hits him right in the heart – “Poppa.” Happily, Chris is lit up by a sweet little grandson. Each minute of their time together is a precious memory and not at all lost on Chris.

Chris, “Hug often, everyone. Hugging will release tension.” Tip 9

In the 100 Moms edition, hugging was one of the most common tips. I was hopeful it would continue to come up with the advice from 100 Dads. Thanks Chris.

A popular tip in 100 Moms was from Nicole, Mom #80, advising parents to hug when a tantrum occurs. Nicole also felt, as Chris’ explained, hugging is a great tension release and a very effective parenting practice.

I thought it was worth sharing Nicole’s (Mom #80) example as well:

Nicole, Mom #80, sixth tip:

When one of my children was screaming out of control, I just wanted to scream back to try to get control. I realized very quickly this did not work so I took a different approach. What I did learn, every time I asked them if they needed a hug during this time, every one of them said yes and every time it calmed them down. We could talk out the problem, and I would encourage them to figure out ways to fix it. It was a learning point for us all.”

As she stated “every time” she asked if her children if they wanted a hug, they said yes. That is solid research, a tried and true method. Hugs hold a lot of meaning.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. It is likely tantrums are a clear sign children are feeling out of control. Maybe they are hungry, tired, or stressed in some way. Like grown-ups, a hug can help.

Although in hindsight it makes perfect sense, I can appreciate in practice it may be hard to identify. I was rarely in a “hugging mood” when Michael was unhappy.

Having limited skills and capacity, recognizing Michael may have needed a hug, reassurance or to feel safe was not a level of awareness I had. I also didn’t realize how tension reduction could have helped us both.

There are a lot of interesting facts about hugging. Hugging helps with loneliness, fear, self-esteem, tension and even blood pressure.

Hugs also serve to silently say hello, welcome, good bye, good night, good morning, I love you, I see you, you matter, I care, and you’re not alone. Hugs are free and accessible, although not universally enjoyed.

Sometimes I’m not much of a hugger myself, but when I see Michael it’s a visceral reaction. Luckily I have a few people in my life that activate my automatic hug reflex. I am thankful for everyone I get and give.

Even though Michael is an adult, we still hug hello and good-bye. Occasionally, I try to leave my lipstick kiss on his cheek. It’s not so easy anymore.

I hope hugging continues for all Moms and their babies, big and small. If you’re longing for a hug, giving one can feel just as good as getting one.

Thanks to Chris for his service abroad and at home. I happen to know firsthand he is a great hugger and I’ll be looking forward to my next one.