Have you ever tried to connect with your child and just felt… awkward?
This is not uncommon. Parents sometimes express to us that connection can be awkward, such as, “We just aren’t a huggy family.” Feelings of awkwardness around one form of connection may be an indication that the family has other unique and effective ways to express love, or it could be a symptom of discomfort with affection.
Give this a try: Take a moment to imagine looking into the eyes of each of your children, touching them affectionately, and telling them you love them. Certain feelings may emerge. These are significant. For some people this activity might evoke pleasant feelings of love and closeness. Or it might make them feel awkward and uncomfortable. They might even feel anxious, forced, or numb. There may be other feelings as well. The feelings may relate to how love was expressed (or not expressed) during a person’s own childhood. Or it may simply be about fear of looking silly, feeling uncomfortable, or losing face in front of your children.
Awkwardness may also stem from anticipated rejection by my child, particularly if that child is older. Many parents report that at some point they are hurt when their child rejects their attempt to express love.
But even if you feel awkward when you think about connecting with your child, strong feelings are an opportunity to look at our core beliefs. If I feel hurt, it might be that I believe my value depends on my child’s acceptance. It might be that I’m feeling unloved in another relationship and am using my child to meet needs in me that he or she can’t meet.
Understanding my beliefs and how they affect me is never simple work. But it must be done in order to overcome these barriers to connection… even when it feels awkward.
Apply It Now:
- As I imagine giving appropriate, affectionate touch and eye contact to each person in my family and telling them I love them, how do I feel?
- What does that tell me about the presence or absence of barriers to intimacy with each person?
- What could be some possible core beliefs I hold about affection and vulnerability that might be an influence? (Read more about core beliefs here.)
This post is an excerpt from our book, How to Grow a Connected Family.