Why You Need to Hug Your Teens

mother and teen daughter laying on grass
Photo by Bence Halmosi on Unsplash

If you were raised by a strict parent who never allowed you to do all the fun things you wanted, chances are you thought they were just being assholes who didn’t want you to have any fun in life.

But as you’ve reached adulthood, you probably now know that they did it to protect you—because they love you.

Yet, it’s one thing for a parent to love you. It’s another thing to actually feel loved.

5 Levels of Human Need

I grew up in a family of all brothers—my mother did, too. And my father went to boarding school and never had a close relationship with his family.

I remember seeing photos from when we were little of us hugging our mom or dad, but the hugging stopped at some point early on.

What I didn’t know at the time, is that it wasn’t normal not to be hugged by your family. And up until I was well into my 20s, I also didn’t know that affection was something we needed.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are five levels of human need that fit into a pyramid. They are, in order from bottom to top:

  1. Physiological
  2. Safety and security
  3. Love and belonging
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization

Physiological

These are fundamental needs of food, water, clothing, sleep, and shelter. This is the bare minimum humans need to survive. Without most of these things, we would die—or at least we may wish we weren’t living.

Safety and Security

The other basic need is the right to feel safe and secure. Without this, it’s difficult for a person to thrive.

Examples of people who experience a lack of these two fundamental needs would be most homeless people, many children in foster care, and in many cases of broken and abusive homes.

If you had most of all of these needs met as children, then you’re more fortunate than an estimated 153 million other children.

Love and Belonging

The next fundamental is a psychological need to feel loved, and to feel like you belong. When you grow up with a lack of community, it can have a deep impact on your emotional wellness.

Someone who didn’t feel loved as a child may go looking for love in places they shouldn’t.

“If you don’t hug your pre-adolescent daughter, and kiss her on the cheek, she will find a teenage boy… three years older than her who will.” — Gary Chapman, author of ‘The 5 Love Languages of Children’.

When you don’t feel like you belong, you can find it difficult to build lasting friendships. You can feel like an outcast in social situations, and often don’t feel like you don’t have any support.

Girl sitting on chair in apartment, lonely and alone
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is another psychological need critical to our progress as humans. Your self-esteem often won’t develop to its fullest potential when you are missing the first three levels of human need. And if you have a parent that has low self-esteem, this can also have an effect on you.

If you don’t value your own self-worth, you can end up in abusive relationships, allow yourself to be used by people, and your career may never peak. This is because you believe you aren’t capable and deserving of more.

Self-Actualization

This is a self-fulfillment need that’s different for everyone. It’s steeped in our morality, creativity, and our acceptance of our own circumstances. Self-actualization is crucial to our growth and having a purpose in life.

You Need to Hug Your Teenagers

Times aren’t what they used to be—depending on where you live. I grew up in Australia, and at the time, for the most part, boys weren’t really taught to cry or hug other males.

As far as I can tell, many (if not most) parts of the US were—and are still—like that, too.

Thankfully, there is a change in the air. Boys are being allowed to feel their emotions, and I see more parents cuddle their boys than when I was young.

Let this be your reminder to parents and parents-to-be to hug your kids and your teenagers. Show them, and also tell them you love them.

Those fleeting moments and small gestures may not feel important at the time, but when a child isn’t receiving them, they can be significant—in a negative way.

I wish my parents had been huggers. Not that it would have made everything better, but I think it would have made a lot of things better.

It Starts With Parents

Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages of Children” explains in his YouTube video the importance of physically showing love and affection to your kids, and how to identify their dominant love language.

I highly recommend you watch it.

I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve learned so much on this topic because I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling the way I did. I don’t want my kids to feel alone, I want them to be successful, decisive, and strong-minded, and I certainly don’t want them looking for affection and love from others because they aren’t getting it at home.

I think we can all agree that, unless you were just really f*cking lucky, most of the shit we carry through life comes from our childhood or youth. So, if you’re able to identify all the faux pas your parents made, maybe, just, maybe you won’t make the same mistakes.

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Aussie in TX. Compassionate content strategist for B2C. Inquiries hey@saguaromedia.co. Buy me a coffee 👉🏾 ko-fi.co/emma-jade

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emma jade

emma jade

Aussie in TX. Compassionate content strategist for B2C. Inquiries hey@saguaromedia.co. Buy me a coffee 👉🏾 ko-fi.co/emma-jade

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