this issue, I will continue to share with you some basic principles of
parenting that come from McDowell and Day's "How to be a Hero to your
Kids". Last month's principle was appreciation. This month, you'll learn
about affection. In each of the next four issues, you will get details on one
of the other ingredients of effective parenting.
To a child, parental affection is like water to a plant, oil to an engine,
food to the starving. With no affection an infant can literally die. Without
adequate affection, a child can grow into a teenager who is willing to trade
sex for feeling loved.
Affection (either through hugs or through being told you are loved) meets a
basic physical and psychological need that doesn't really change that much as
children grow older.
Parents tend to hug and kiss children when they are younger, but the hugging
and kissing becomes less frequent as they grow older. By the time children hit
junior high and high school, many parents practically stop hugging and kissing
them altogether. One reason for this is that teen-agers brush their parents
away, saying that they are "grown up now and don't need it." Don't
believe them! They do need affection, and if they don't get it, they will
fulfill their need in the wrong way.
Almost every single high school student has two fears. One is the fear that
they will never be loved, and the other is the fear that they will never be
able to love. These two fears drive them into trading sex for intimacy.
According to researcher Joan Woodward, who has studied lonely people for
twenty years, high school girls are the loneliest people in the United States.
If high school girls are the loneliest people in our country, it's no wonder
that a key reason teen-agers give for engaging in pre-marital sex is that they
are "searching for their father's love."
When parents are consistently warm and affectionate toward their children, the
children feel accepted and appreciated. And when you have felt that affection
as a young child, you are less likely to sell out everything as a teen-ager
because you want somebody to "love you."
Be sure to give your children huge daily doses of affection. their very
destiny, their very ability to some day function as effective and fulfilled
wives, husbands, and parents depends on it.
You can't hug your kids enough, you really can't. And it doesn't really matter
how old or what size they are. No one ever outgrows the need for affection.
There is awesome power in a simple thing like a hug, a wink, and lips just
forming the words "Hey, I love you!"
Gonzalez is a three-time Olympian, a peak performance expert and a
motivational speaker. To get his Free e-zine go to www.thelugeman.com