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Hug, Please!: Overcoming the Fear of Affection. | The Family Podcast Network



Feb 20

Hug, Please!: Overcoming the Fear of Affection.


What!?!? Fear of affection? Parents don't have fear of affection. Well, granted that may of been a little bit of an embellishment, but for some of us affection is not on the top of our list.

Let's start at the beginning.

Cora just turned 3. Out of all our children so far, she has been the most challenging for me. She is our boundary pusher. You know the type. 

Me: 'Cora, please don't touch that.'

Cora: Looks at me, then the object, not sure what she has decided to do yet.

Me: 'Baby, would you please not touch that!?'

Cora: Looks as me, then object, then slowly walks over to object which then she decides to touch.

Me: 'CORA!!!!'

We won't even start on all the things I did wrong in that conversation, but I set it up for you so you could see what she is like. If I believed in a 'strong willed child' she is what I would call one.

So, all that being said, she's is a little more taxing than the other 3. However, she is also one of the more affectionate. She is the one that is continually coming up to me stating 'hug, please?'  It seems ludicrous that those could go hand in hand. So called rebelliousness with affection. Hmmmmm. But for her it does. 

So why not just hug her? Well, that is the million dollar question. It's just hard for me to be an affectionate person. I am what is often referred to as a 'thinker.' Typically my love languages are acts of service, I like to do things for people. I like using my hands. Building things. Cleaning things. Sewing. On and on. 'Feelers' typically like hearing and speaking kind words or words of affection. They like hugs and kisses and hand holding. For me, stuff that I find annoying. Yes, annoying.

Affection annoys me.

But I'm not all heart of stone. Often when I am sick or very upset, that is when I am the most affectionate. It's in their, it's just not the first thing I often turn to. And I truly love to hug and kiss and love on my kids, but there is just that point that it gets too much. And Cora finds that point every. single. day.

You know, the only other way I know to put it is that its awkward. I know that seems unusual or strange, but it is. It is also hard on me because I feel that it is often done in an attempt to avoid what is being asked of her. Or to postpone an activity. 

Whatever may be the reason for it, she wouldn't ask for it if she didn't like it. I can already hear some of you saying, 'YES SHE WOULD! If it got her out of having to do something she doesn't like, it would!' But I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Anna, my oldest, never uses hugs to get out of helping around the house. Grant never wants kisses just so he won't have to pick up dirty clothes. It is obvious that not only does Cora like hugs, I dare say she needs them.

I decided today that I was going to embellish her with more hugs. Every time she asks, I will hug her. And I have. And it has not been my favorite.

Now before you get out the pitchforks, gimme a minute. I truly do love to hug my kids. Seriously. When I run into a problem is when it feels as if it is every single second that she is asking. Most the time, she crawls into my lap, manages to hit my bottom jaw with her head, dig her knee into my breast, her heel digs into my thigh and her feet are always cold because she refuses to wear socks. It makes me irrationally angry. Then, her breath always seems bad, she gets 8mm away from my face and then asks for a hug. And today, we did just that.

So I, in all my mommy brilliance, decided that every time she hugs me I would squeeze her as tight as I could without damaging anything. My hopes were twofold; one that she would receive the satisfaction of a hug  and two that it would be moderately uncomfortable and she would want me to stop and possibly not ask quite so often.

Remember, be kind, we are painfully honest here on FPN and this was how I was reacting to my daughters need for affection. I'm not saying it's mature or right, but it's what I was feeling and how I was handling it.

Back on subject, a strange thing happened. Cora liked it. She liked that I hugged her tight. She didn't move. I would ask if it was too tight and she would shake her head 'no'. I would ask if she would like for me to let go and she would shake her head 'no'. And then something else happened. She came back more for hugs.

DANGIT! I was trying to get the opposite reaction!

Then I got to thinking as my rational side was beginning to surface. My daughter is so desperate for affection from her mother, she is willing to be uncomfortable if it means that mommy is hugging her.

I just got choked up writing that.

Wow. If that's not a slap in the face. O. U. C. H.

So where else in my chidren's lives am I avoiding what they are asking of me? Is there more? I ask this because it has really caused me to reflect on how I am as a parent.

If I only parent how I am comfortable, I am not meeting all the needs of my children. Period. 

Our children all have different ways, much like our spouses, that they need to be loved. Anna loves bugs and science and dinosaurs. If I tell the kids that the only activities we would do are ones that Anna likes, Cora and Grant are going to feel pretty left out. Or if we only watch preschool tv and play with baby Charlotte's toys, the older kids are going to get pretty restless pretty fast. 

This transfers very well into how we deeply love our children as well. Cora loves to receive hugs and help with dishes. Anna likes to help with the baby. Grant likes to be told how awesome he is! They all require something differently. 

I am pretty sure Cora has never felt more loved than today. And you know what, her 'strong willed' spirit has been much calmer as well. Truly. 

Even though it was tough for me, it is growing me as a parent and a person.

So since I am giving them freely, who needs a hug!?




Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/fearofaffection


Sometimes annoying. I agree. But the annoying part will one day turn to hurt when they flip right past you like a whirl wind and in that moment you realize that little kid that once longed for anykind of affection from you doesn't need it as much as you do anymore.


Thank you for this! I needed that perspective. I have a 5 year old who is always "HANGING ON ME"!! He is under my feet every time I try to walk anywhere, he's in my face the minute I sit down and he is always wanting a hug or to be held or to sit RIGHT by me. I love him dearly, but I agree that it gets annoying- my personal space bubble is very large and he is always in it! Today I will try to be less annoyed and more understanding! Thanks again!


Forgot to add how I miss my 12 and 15 year old when they wanted to hug- cuddle crawl up in your lap to read or excitedly tell me about the silly ness of something they thought was the mst important thing ever...

quatro64 moderator

Oh, Katie. I can so so so so understand! Even just this morning I had to stop myself from telling Cora to go away and instead give her a hug. It's tough. I, obviously, know exactly how you feel. Fantastic that you are identifying that it is something you struggle with because I really do feel that that is the first step towards changing.


I really think that once our kids realize, after a period of time, that we are going to freely give them affection they won't be quite, dare I say, needy? But whatever the case, it is obviously their love language to be affectionate and as their mother, I want to meet that in whatever way possible! Whew!


Keep up the awesome work!!! I'll be working on it right along beside you. :-)