I'm a firm believer in the power of touch. Sometimes, a genuine touch can be effective in communicating support to a coworker or friend. Handshakes fall into this category as well. But for me, it's the gentle and affectionate touches that - in their silence - speak volumes.
I'm affectionate with my kids. I am that way because my parents were not affectionate with me. Oh, sure, my mom would hug me occasionally, but that was it. My dad never hugged and never expressed his affection. During my awkward dating years I probably ended budding relationships sooner than I would have liked because I was affectionate with the women I was dating. And even in my marriage, my wife has never been an affectionate person, and when she was, it was a surprise.
Which is the reason I'm affectionate with my kids. With Colin, who's 15 now, that affection manifests itself in frequent fist-bumps, and the occasional boyish "I'm gonna hug you, but in a weird way, 'cause a REAL hug would not be cool." Audrey, though, is a hugger. She likes to cuddle with me on the couch if we're watching something on TV, and she is always ready to give me a big hug when I get home. With her, too, I like to simply place my hand on the top of her head, gently, as a gesture of my love for her. Sometimes my affection with her does take a form of "cool", like a fist bump. But with both kids, the gesture means the same: I love them, and I know they love me.
Oh, sure. This will all change. When Colin's a grown man, the hugs might actually increase, because he might see the value in the gesture. And I'm sure that on Audrey's wedding day, she'll be holding onto me tightly as I walk her down the aisle. And I hope, for both of them, that they find partners in life who understand that simple power of touch.