By Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
In today’s world economy, we often find that most parents are working outside of the home. This may mean a two parent home has both parents working outside of the home to keep their bills paid and food on the table. This may also mean that we see a reversal of roles, as compared to our 1950s ideals of families, where a father may stay at home with the children while the mother works outside of the home. Or the traditional stay-at-home mother while the father is working.
In any case, we find that the children are missing out on valuable nurturing and bonding time with their parents.
While it is essential that parents work to support their families, it is also essential that parents find ways to connect and bond with their children. To support children, show them they are loved and provide care and attention.
Yes, when you come home from work in the evening, exhausted or in a bad mood because of that particular co-worker, this may seem like one more thing to do that you just can’t find the time for. But it is imperative that you spend time with children, even if it means that you have to skip washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Those things can wait, children cannot.
So what do you do to spend this essential time with your children?
If you have a baby or very young child, infant massage can be the perfect nurturing and bonding activity. This massage can be a quiet time, stand-alone activity, or can even be done while you are providing the essential care you would be anyway, such as changing a diaper or giving a bath. During these times take a few extra moments to speak lovingly with your baby, make eye contact, and provide nurturing strokes on her legs and arms. Maybe just before or at bedtime, provide some long soothing strokes down her back. Not only will the massage help you both to connect, it will also help you both to relax due to the increase of oxytocin – the relaxing and nurturing hormone — in both yourself and your baby.
Toddlers and the Growing Child
If you have an older child, a toddler or school age child, try reading a story together. During the story you can use your hands to draw the pictures or characters on his back. Allow your child to help make up the story so that he can participate in suggesting the types of nurturing touch he may wish to feel. This simple activity can take just minutes or you may find it spreads out across a greater portion of the evening. In any case, together you’ll spend valuable time and share in very special moments that cannot be replaced.
Taking Time for Nurturing Touch is Time Well Invested
Children need nurturing touch to thrive in all aspects of life, socially, academically and cognitively. Without an appropriate amount of nurturing touch in their daily lives, children suffer horrible consequences: feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, lack of confidence, and social skills. Find a few moments each evening to reconnect with your children through massage and nurturing touch.
Discuss this topic with other API members and parents. Get advice for your parenting challenges, and share your tips with others on the API Forum.